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[OPINION] Proteas must revisit six batting strategy for Australia series

South Africa’s batting woes over the home summer have been well documented, and Ottis Gibson and his coaching team may need to revisit their six batsmen strategy when their charges face Steve Smith’s fiery four-man pace attack.

The Proteas batsmen have found the going tough against India, both in the Test series and more notably the ODI’s where their batsmen have come under fire. The senior batsmen have failed to rise to the occasion on numerous times during the summer, and that has put a lot of pressure on the younger members of the squad, particularly Aiden Markram who deputized for the injured Faf du Plessis in the ODI’s.

Although South Africa won the Test series 2-1, no South African batsmen registered a century in the three matches with the highest individual score being a sparkling 94 from Markram in the second Test match at SuperSport Park in Centurion. Their middle and lower order failed to contribute notable scores and string together partnerships.

The six batsmen strategy left the Proteas exposed against a surprisingly brilliant Indian pace attack throughout the Test series, and Quinton de Kock was the one who felt that pressure walking in at number six. He had a woeful series with the bat by his high standards, scoring 71 runs in six innings and an average of 11.

The Proteas are also facing a few injury concerns ahead of the Australian series. Captain du Plessis, Dale Steyn and Temba Bavuma are all racing against the clock to be fit for the first Test. There were also suggestions that the selectors were considering going with seven batsmen in the third Test at the Wanderers and include Theunis de Bruyn, instead they went with Andile Phehlukwayo who was less than impressive.

I think that the six batsmen and five bowlers (one being an allrounder) strategy needs to be revisited, at least for the Australian series. We need to bolster the batting until most of our batsmen find their form. If we thought that the Indian bowlers were impressive, the Australians are a cut above the rest when it comes to fast bowling. With the likes of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood and Pat Cummins who can bowl over 145km/h, it is going to be a tough task for our batsmen.

The extra batsmen will help to steady the ship should we find ourselves in a trouble at 50/4 and will make the Australian bowlers work harder to get all 20 wickets to win a Test match.

Some of the most dominant Test sides in history have always had seven batsmen - the Australian sides that dominated between 1998-2008, the South Africans themselves under Graeme Smith between 2008-2012 all played with seven batsmen and four frontline bowlers.

The Australian series is going to be tough and we need all the runs we can get against one of the best pace attacks in world cricket at the moment.

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