The Proteas’ quest to become the best Test side in the world again won’t be measured according to the official team rankings.
Despite climbing to third following the weekend’s 3-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka at the Wanderers, the South Africans won’t be able to catch top-ranked India anytime soon.
India play far too much cricket at home currently – where they dominate – and also have a decent lead over their nearest rivals.
As a result, South Africa rather just want to gauge their progress by performing consistently in their next few series – away to New Zealand and England.
“We’re definitely goal-orientated at the moment,” said Russell Domingo, the Proteas coach.
“You can’t look too much into the rankings at the moment. Naturally, we want to get back to the top but it won’t happen quickly. India are currently the best in the world and still have to play a few series at home.
“All we can do it continue to win series in future and the rankings will take care of itself.”
Faf du Plessis, South Africa’s captain, hailed his side’s “consistency” in the series and also pointed to the fact that they dominated “95% of time”.
The results certainly back him up – the winning margins increased as the series went on, culminating in the weekend’s massive victory by an innings and 118 runs.
Yet Domingo is far more diplomatic, stating “there is still big room for improvement”.
Generally, the Proteas’ bowling attack was ruthlessly consistent but the batting only fired in fits and starts.
Instead, Domingo wants his vaunted batting line-up to experience “hot streaks” more regularly.
“We need more consistency from the batting order,” he said.
“Dean Elgar did that as he scored a hundred and two fifties in this series. What’s happened is that one guy gets a ton, then another guy gets one and then another one. There hasn’t been one batter that made a few big scores in succession.
“I want more players scoring 500 runs in one series.”
Duanne Olivier and Wayne Parnell, the newbies in a revamped attack, took 11 wickets between themselves at the Bullring but Domingo admits they still need to strike the right balance.
“We’ll have to decide which of those two is the most suitable for our demands.”