Cape Town – The Proteas stand dangerously on the cusp of
becoming the worst-performing South African touring team in England during the
The equation is stark and simple: either lose or draw in the
pivotal final Test at Old Trafford from Friday (12:00 start, SA time) and they
will become the least productive outfit from our shores in six visits to
England since bilateral contact there was resumed after a lengthy,
apartheid-caused gap with a 1994 tour.
England lead the current Test series 2-1, so have already ensured
retention of the Basil D’Oliveira Trophy they snatched from the Proteas’ grasp
in SA two summers back.
But Faf du Plessis and company still have plenty of
incentive – if they can muster the end-of-tour desire and suitable standards to
play – to earn a 2-2 outcome, which would represent a praiseworthy enough
achievement after a “difficult” three months in the so-called Green and
The Test series still holds the most gravitas, of course,
and sharing the honours there would go quite some way to atoning for the
disappointment of successive 2-1 reverses in the one-day international and
But if the Proteas crash, or are held, at Old Trafford, it
would mean the ignominy of becoming the first ever SA party to surrender all
three formats in England on the same tour.
Also clouding the visit thus far, of course, is the way they
bowed out of the multinational ICC Champions Trophy, held at English and Welsh
venues during June, before the knockout phase.
As things stand, then, South Africa have won only four and
lost eight of 12 full international matches across the three formats in the UK
over the past few months – an unusually low victory percentage of 33.3.
If they fail to triumph in Manchester over the next five
days, they will definitely return the least fruitful of all SA teams visiting
England since 1994.
South Africa have won two (2012 and 2008) and drawn two
(2003 and 1994) of the five prior modern-era Test series in England, the only
blemish being 1998 when the hosts won 2-1.
But even in that year, under Hansie Cronje’s charge, South
Africa won the bilateral ODI combat 2-1; there was also a separate triangular
with Sri Lanka latched on and the team from the Subcontinent won that event.
Here is a reminder of
the outcomes of all the major international activity on previous SA tours of
England since isolation ended:
2012: SA won Tests 2-0, ODIs shared 2-2, T20s shared 1-1
2008: SA won Tests 2-1, England won ODIs 4-0, lone T20
abandoned without starting
2003: Tests shared 2-2, England won triangular ODI
tournament (also featuring Zimbabwe)
1998: England won Tests 2-1, SA won ODIs 2-1, Sri Lanka won
triangular ODI tournament
1994: Tests shared 1-1, England won ODIs 2-0
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