Proteas captain Dean Elgar seemed unsure of exactly where his side had gone in their sad two-and-a-half day defeat in their sad two-and-a-half day defeat in the first Test against New Zealand which ended on Saturday.
The Proteas were dismal in all three divisions during the match, with Elgar pointing to a lack of intensity as a big contributing factor to performance.
Their batting division scored only 206 runs over two innings; their bowlers conceded runs with more than four left; and their fielders dropped seven catches costing more than 200 runs, while New Zealand amassed 482 in their lone innings.
It was a bitterly disappointing attempt for South Africa as they entered the series after an impressive 2-1 test series win over India in SA.
“It’s something I’m still trying to think about and hopefully in a day or two I’ll be able to process it and give an answer,” Elgar admitted after the game.
“I feel like our intensity has been lacking for the past two-and-a-half days. As a side, we know that when our intensity is high and we operate at a certain level, we compete and give ourselves the best chance of winning.
“I have yet to process the reason why we missed it in the intensity department. It was something I was trying to process last night, and I still haven’t gotten anywhere.
“We were completely outplayed by a stylish New Zealand outfit in all three departments.”
One of the Proteas’ main shortcomings was their batting division, which just couldn’t handle the New Zealand speed attack, as Matt Henry ran through it 23 7/23 in the first innings and Tim Southee 5/35 in the second.
They were unable to tackle the swinging ball with 13 of their 20 wickets being caught by the keeper or in the slip cordon which was a really poor attempt.
“When the ball is in motion, you still have to have a positive attitude. You still have to look to score and keep the scoreboard ticking, but in the same breath, you have to stay pretty disciplined in your game plans,” said Elgar.
“But that comes back to our intensity. I felt that our intensity was not up to standard with regard to the quality of test cricket.
“That’s one area I can definitely put my finger on, but again, there are other areas we need to smooth out over the next few days.”
For New Zealand, their star of the day, Southee, celebrated a notable milestone as he passed Kiwi legend Sir Richard Hadlee’s record of most international wickets for the Black Caps (201) with Southee finishing the match with 202 scalps.
“It’s a special win. It’s clearly a side that we haven’t had much success against. They’re a very good side and as history suggests, they’re a tough opposition,” Southee said.
“We know they will bounce back, but we will sit back and enjoy what has been a pretty impressive performance from everyone.
“I think if you play long enough you can tick off a few milestones along the way, but I think when you’re in the same conversation as Sir Richard, it’s always a special moment.”