There is no disgrace in losing a Test match. But to be thrashed as Australia was to South Africa in Perth yesterday by 177 runs certainly requires a review.
Especially after losing 10 for 86 after being none for 158 in the first innings and batting disappointingly, with exception of David Warner and Shaun Marsh in the first innings and Usman Khawaja and Peter Nevill in the second.
And remember South Africa did not have AB de Villiers in the squad because of injury, their feared fast bowler Dale Steyne bowled only 12.4 overs before getting injured in Perth and their best batsman Hashim Amla (ranked No.2 in Tests) scored 0 and 1.
Our hats off to Proteas bowlers Kagiso Rabada (a worthy man of the match), Vernon Philander and debutant Keshav Maharaj as also batsmen JP Duminy, Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock for their magnificent fight back after Australia had dominated the opening day.
The Perth Test was reminiscent of the first Test against Sri Lanka at Pallekele in July. Bowled out for 117 in the first innings, Sri Lanka went on to win by 106 runs.
Steven Smith’s record as a captain has been disappointing since July. He lost the Test series 0-3 to Sri Lanka. Captaining Australia in the first two ODIs against Sri Lanka he won one and lost one.
Warner took over the captaincy in the next three ODIs against Sri Lanka and won all three as Australia pouched the series 4-1.
Smith’s poor overseas captaincy record followed him in the ODI series against South Africa, losing all five matches.
Add to it the Perth Test drubbing. Combining Test and ODI results, Smith won one and lost ten internationals from July to November. In the same period Warner won all three internationals.
In the Perth Test, Warne was at his aggressive best scoring a quick fire 97 and 35 before he was run out sensationally in the second knock.
However, Smith appeared a pale imitation of himself when registering a duck and 34.
Is captaincy affecting Smith’s batting? If he continues to fail with the bat in the next two Tests against South Africa, should the selectors look at other options when naming a captain against Pakistan in the three-Test series?
Without Smith batting at his fluent best, the Australians are vulnerable.
I don’t think captaincy will impinge on Warner’s daredevil batting. He will provide colour and oomph the pale Aussies are lacking these days.