London, Sep 13 (IANS) South Africa captain Dean Elgar and head coach Mark Boucher both conceded that lack of experience among their players played a major role in their 2-1 downfall to England in the Test series that concluded here on Monday.
The hosts sealed an emphatic nine-wicket victory in the third Test to complete an excellent come-from-behind triumph at The Oval on Monday.
South Africa started the series by comfortably winning the first Test by an innings and 12 runs last month, with the home side hitting back with a handsome win in the second Test which they won by an innings and 85 runs in Manchester.
They were on top for most of the decisive Test too — clash that was effectively a three-day match after day one was washed out and day two suspended following the death of Queen Elizabeth II — dismissing the Proteas for poor scores of 118 and 169.
“I think lack of experience and lack of exposure to Test cricket (played a part),” Elgar said after the third Test that England won within three days. “The lack of exposure to UK conditions with the ball swinging and nipping. We were also exposed to the type of batting conditions in this Test, especially where the ball was nipping quite a lot,” Elgar was quoted as saying in a report on Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) website.
“It was up there with some of the toughest conditions I’ve faced and I have a relatively decent amount of experience. So I can only imagine how a guy who only has one or two Tests under his belt must feel. It was tough all around.”
The South Africans faced just 92.4 overs in the third Test and skipper Elgar’s 36 was their highest score of the match.
Coach Boucher admitted it was not a good series for the batsmen.
“We always knew we would be under pressure if the conditions went around a bit,” he explained after the match ended.
“I think in South Africa the conditions are not the same. The ball doesn’t swing, the contact points are a little bit different. I know there’s talk of experience and that, but these batters that are here have consistently been the best batters in our country.”
“If you have a look at the last top seven batters that came to England and won the last series, I think between them there were 470-odd Test matches, that’s between the top seven. In this series, 10 of the batters used to bat in the top seven, they’re on 170,” he was quoted as saying in the CSA report.
“So there is a big difference and the only way you get to experience is by going out there and playing. We’ve backed guys to play in quite a few Test matches, in conditions where the ball went around a bit, but they haven’t come off and that’s unfortunate.”
Elgar, meanwhile, felt England could impose their game on their rivals and did what they needed to do. It was the major difference between the two countries, he felt.
“I don’t think they played extraordinary cricket,” the captain added, “I thought they played the correct tempo and when their tail was up, they were striking, but that’s just general good awareness of Test cricket.”
He claimed that England did not play ultra-aggressive cricket but displayed controlled aggression.
“It was nothing out of the ordinary, they played a good tempo of cricket, something you can control when you’re ahead of the game. I don’t think they played ultra-aggressive cricket, they controlled it well and played good cricket. It was always going to be a big and tough series away from home.”
The loss in the series against England left South Africa in the second spot on the ICC World Test Championship table. The team will now take a break before reassembling later in the year for a three-Test tour to Australia.