South Africa’s win in Wellington against New Zealand was perhaps their most defining Test victory since their mighty win over Australia in Perth last November.
I use the word ‘defining’ so as to emphasise the circumstances under which this victory was obtained and the people who inspired it.
At lunch on Day 2, South Africa were in jeopardy at 6-104, with Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Cock charged with rescuing the Proteas. But budding athletes dream of facing such challenging situations and coming out of it victorious, and De Cock and Bavuma certainly rose to the occasion.
Their styles were distinct but both were equally effective, with Bavuma scoring a patient 89, while De Cock was the aggressor, finishing with 91.
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With the kind of knocks that Bavuma and De Cock are playing of late, has South Africa’s batting baton been passed on? It may be too early to call, but De Cock certainly has the potential to fill Mark Boucher’s shoes and in fact better him down the line.
In the bowling department, Dale Steyn has been out for a while, but you would hardly realise it, with the likes of Kagiso Rabada and Keshav Maharaj providing safe hands for the future.
The Proteas are led by Faf du Plesseis, who is not only new to his captaincy role but also relatively new to Test cricket. But he is influential not only with the bat but also as a skipper and the team is excelling under his leadership.
The fact that many of the recent South African Test victories have been inspired by the performances of youngsters brings fresh air into the Proteas camp and augurs well for the future.
This team will be tested and its depth sternly scrutinised, especially on the subcontinent, but as of now, they are playing exceptionally well.