After South Africa’s humiliating 278-run defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka in the first Test at Galle, Faf du Plessis has endorsed the concept of toss-free Tests to reinstate the "lost balance" in the traditional format of the game.
Following the retirement of elite players, South Africa’s overseas Test record has been diluted a bit in the last few years. While the Proteas lost the four-match Test series 3-0 to India in 2015, they were annihilated by England (3-1) in the four Tests last summer. While Faf du Plessis and company bounced back at home to thrash the Aussies 3-1 in a four-match Test series earlier this year, they are now on the verge of losing a series to the No.6 ranked Sri Lanka side.
Considering the way pitches and the conditions are playing a huge role in the outcome of Test matches lately, Du Plessis wants to do away with the toss.
"I'm a big fan of taking away the toss. I think even in South Africa you'll still prepare the conditions the way you prepare them now, but you just make sure that you bring some balance. In home conditions, teams will still win the majority of the games, but you still do even it out a little. I think over the last two or three years away-records have definitely gone down, and games are finishing a lot sooner than they used to,” Faf quoted as saying by Cricbuzz.
"When I started playing Test cricket, 400s and 500s were happening quite regularly. So I'm not just speaking about subcontinent conditions. In South Africa games hardly reach the end of day four anymore. I think that's one of the ways you can make sure that balance is a little better," he added.
South Africa was all out for 73 in their second innings at Galle – their lowest total in the island nation while they were bundled out for 126 in the first innings – their second-lowest total in Sri Lanka.
Spinners led by Dilruwan Perera led Sri Lanka to the win as only three South African batsmen reached double figures in the second dig. While Perera added six wickets to his four in the first innings, veteran Rangana Herath picked up three scalps after taking two in the first outing.
Reflecting on his team’s sub-standard performance, Du Plessis said: "If you keep losing wickets, it is tough coming in. I think that's the biggest difference when you play in the subcontinent. When you do lose a wicket, that next five overs become tricky - you need to make sure you get through that.”
He also cited Sri Lanka opener Dimuth Karunaratne’s example, who carried his bat in the first innings to score a gritty 158* off 222 balls. The southpaw also made a fluent 60 in the second innings to help Sri Lanka post 190 and thus securing an overall lead of 351.
“Karunaratne was there the whole time for them in the first innings. He scored more than half the runs of their total. So he was fantastic in this game. As bad as we were in our batting, he was very, very good,” Faf remarked.
The Proteas skipper also admitted that they were not good enough in this game.
"It's just a case of our batters somehow trying to put pressure back on the quality of spin bowling that Sri Lanka have. There's two ways of looking at it. You could sit it out and try and bat for as long as possible, but you also need to put pressure on the opposition. There were one or two more expansive shots than we would normally play, but the thinking behind the batting was to try and put some pressure back on the bowling, because they don't give you anything. That's the quality the spinners have over here,” Du Plessis asserted.
"If you sit there the whole day you're also not going to score runs. There's an element of what is a medium risk, compared to a high-risk shot, especially on the wickets that we're playing on, with the ball stopping a little bit more than we're used to. It is lessons that we can learn. But we weren't good enough in this game, and Sri Lanka showed us why they were better," he concluded.