Lloyd Burnard

Sri Lankan tour can't end soon enough

2017-02-06 11:45
Lloyd Burnard

Cape Town - That Saturday's 'Pink ODI' will be remembered for the role a swarm of bees played in proceedings says a lot about the quality of cricket on offer.

Those bees, regardless of their intentions, gave the Proteas more trouble in a matter of seconds than Sri Lanka have done all summer. 

The visitors may have emerged victorious in the T20 series against a South African 'B' team, but when it's mattered this tour has never once provided a real contest. 

The difference in quality between the two sides, in all disciplines, is clear.

And, unfortunately, it means that this tour will now limp towards its conclusion. 

There have been flashes of promise from the visitors - Suranga Lakmal and Lahiru Kumara in the Tests and Niroshan Dickwella in the T20s and ODIs - but they have struggled to provide any sustained competition to a Proteas side that has dominated throughout. 

The Sri Lankans are an awesome bunch. They play the game in the right spirit, are easy to get along with off the field and they have a certain aura about them that was born around the time they won the 1996 World Cup. 

But the days of Ranatunga, Jayasuriya, De Silva, Jayawardene, Muralitharan and Sangakkara are well and truly over now. 

This is a new era for Sri Lankan cricket, and while these outings against the Proteas may be extremely beneficial to them, they are doing little for South Africa. 

They are a different animal on their own turf, but away from home these young Sri Lankan batters are struggling. 

Professional cricketers will tell you that there is no such thing as an easy Test match. Fine. But there are certainly 'less difficult' Test matches, and we saw three of them over December and January. 

And while it is always nice to win, the Proteas will be keen for bigger tests before they leave for England and their ICC Champions Trophy bid in June. 

They play in five ODIs and a single T20 in New Zealand after the Sri Lankan tour, and that will surely provide more of a workout. 

But with South Africa being South Africa, the off-field issues have been captivating enough to hold our attention when the cricket couldn't.

Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw combined to deliver their Kolpak bombshells after the second Test in Cape Town, AB de Villiers pretty much told his bosses that he would play Test cricket when he wanted to, CSA told Russell Domingo that he would have to reapply for his job should he want to stay on beyond August and CSA also launched a T20 'Global League' that is being viewed as the saviour in the country's attempt to keep its best players. 

There is a lot going on ... off the field. 

And while the Proteas have been clinical, the biggest headlines since they returned from Australia have had nothing to do with this tour.

There are those who played themselves back into form against Sri Lanka and their are some who have been given valuable opportunities, but other than that, how much the Proteas can really take out of the past couple of months is debatable. 

They are on a roll - of that there is no doubt - but they now need a new challenge to really test how far they have come. 

Cricket tours can last a long time. South Africa spent close to three months in India in 2015. 

When the matches are closely contested, they are well and truly justified. But when they become this one-sided, they can be difficult to watch. 

It is nobody's fault, but this tour has reached that stage. There is nothing left to play for and no sign of the visitors putting up a fight in Cape Town. 

If it was a boxing match, the ref would have called it by now. 

Lloyd Burnard is a journalist at Sport24 and the former Sports Editor of The Witness newspaper ...

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