Lack of experience or not, South Africa was found wanting.
Their captain Dean Elgar must bear some of the blame for their surrender.
For the fourth test in a row, they were crushed. This time by one inning and 182 runs on a flat MCG wicket, where David Warner scored 200, Alex Carey a first century, and an ailing Steve Smith and Cameron Green, nursing a broken finger, hit half centuries.
After failing to make 200 in the previous three Tests, the Proteas managed 204 in the second leg of their MCG disaster as Lungi Ngidi took a liking to Nathan Lyon’s breaks.
Here are our talking points from day four of the second test.
Amateur time for South Africa
Is it an under 10 team or an international team?
Not once, not twice, but three times have the Proteas been exhausted.
The sacking of Elgar on day one was a stroke of genius on the part of Marnus Labuschagne, but the decision to try and pinch a run on the energetic cricketer on the stroke of lunch seemed pointless.
And on the third day? Well, twice Temba Bavuma burned his partner.
Can inexperience be blamed for Bavuma missing his partner?
Absolutely not. After all, the 32-year-old played 53 Tests and also captained his country.
Both were horrible examples of running.
Bavuma tried to get out of the strike as he pushed into the covers and left Khaya Zondo high and dry, as the mid-order hitter, who didn’t react quickly enough, was passed by yards for a .
Later, Keshav Maharaj rolled well into the covers and spun for a third when Bavuma, who spun with the bat in the wrong hand and then started looking at the ball, returned it with the spinner almost level with him on the side of the non-strikers. .
It was one of the worst instances of running in the history of Test cricket. It was like watching Inzaman-ul-Haq in the middle, but only 30 kilograms lighter.
Ricky Ponting called it “schoolboy stuff”.
“Let’s keep an eye on Bauvuma, he’s turning his back on the game,” Ponting said Channel 7.
“Then try to go back the other way, then it’s too late. He absolutely fried his homie there. There should have been a certain three there. The lazy run cost another wicket.
Mark Waugh didn’t hold back either.
“Just an amateur hour from Bavuma,” he said fox cricket.
“It’s not good enough at Test level… they’re not at Test level at the moment.”
Ian Smith added: “It’s just a calamity. Just appalling cricket. Honestly, you’d keep the kids behind an extra hour practicing on a Saturday morning. We have seen two examples of this today.
Kerry O’Keeffe, meanwhile, said the issues were representative of a larger issue at play.
“It’s a sign of a team that’s out of sync,” he said. “When you have run-outs like we saw this morning.
“It is systematic that there are problems. It’s not quite doing the basics of this team well.
What about Kagiso Rabada.
The 27-year-old has bowled 57 Tests and is one of the best bowlers in the world, having taken 267 wickets at 22.49 throughout his career. His strike rate is better than that of Glenn McGrath, taking a wicket every 39 deliveries.
Still, Rabada was poor with the ball from the start. He dropped to allow David Warner to go down on a flyer when his line was also average.
Elgar, who scored 26 in the first innings before falling for a duck in the second innings, called Gabba’s wicket “dangerous” and a bane on Test cricket.
Yes, it was difficult for the stick. But the lack of accountability from the top was equally the problem.
The MCG exposed Elgar’s comments for what they were. An excuse.
Now that, to quote the South African captain, “call a spade a spade”.
Spearhead proves he’s made of tough stuff
Let’s get one thing straight, Mitchell Starc is and always has been tough.
No bowler who bowls 75 tests, snapping their knees ball after ball in the heat, without being badass.
But there have always been lingering questions about Starc’s mental toughness.
Shane Warne got into him at times, but it was more likely, as The Daily Telegraph’s Ben Horne revealed ahead of the MCG test, to try and get Starc to live up to his potential.
Starc hit and bowled with a fractured finger during the Boxing Day test.
The 32-year-old might have said his finger injury wasn’t as bad as Cameron Green’s, but the blood on his bowling finger shows what he went through to help Australia win a victory in the series.
Starc played 18 overs at a fast pace, taking a wicket and catching a run along the way.
But just by bowling, he gave Pat Cummins another striker and someone to share and carry the load.
Time to rethink?
“Bazball” isn’t something everyone has in mind, or believes they can withstand strong attacks under certain conditions, but Proteas could benefit from a philosophical overhaul.
England has apparently benefited, in the short term at least, from a change of mentality.
They hired bowlers.
Almost overnight, they went from a team that was barely winning to a team that can’t help but win. Interestingly, too, their batsmen score — and not just Joe Root.
The Protea have problems. Many of them.
Like England a year ago, they don’t have enough players whose average is over 40.
In fact, they don’t have a single player whose average is above 40, with Elgar being the highest at 37.89.
Could the Proteas win by being tougher on the ball and changing their mindset?
It worked for David Warner, who admitted after his epic double cent that ended a three-year drought that he decided to get back to doing what he does best by going after bowling and playing on his strengths.
On both occasions in Melbourne, the Proteas scored their runs within three runs per over.
The hitters who seemed the best in the slot went hard when the ball was in their zone.
Bavuma found his feet going hard on the ball when there was width; Kyle Verreynne didn’t let anyone settle; and Marco Jansen played competently in the first set when he too played to himself but looked to score.
With the series over, an approach chance in Sydney could pay off.