Picture: 123RF/WAVEBREAK MEDIA LTD
Picture: 123RF/WAVEBREAK MEDIA LTD

London — You might wonder whether Amol Muzumdar agreed to be SA’s Test team’s interim batting coach before Monday — when he gained an inkling of the size of the job ahead of him.

SA were put in to bat by their India counterparts in their four-day match in Thiruvananthapuram‚ and dismissed for 164 in 51.5 overs.

Why is that Muzumdar’s problem? Because five players who were part of that shaky batting display are also in the squad for the three Tests the Proteas will play in India in October‚ when Muzumdar will be part of the coaching contingent.

Two of those players — Aiden Markram and Zubayr Hamza — are likely to be in the top six. Another two — Senuran Muthusamy and Dane Piedt — have scored eight centuries and 29 half-centuries between them at first-class level.

That is why Monday’s mess is Muzumdar’s problem. To him falls the responsibility of making those players‚ and the rest of SA’s batters‚ straighten up and fly right if the series is not to echo the 2016 tour there‚ when India won 3-0.

“Amol is a perfect fit for us‚” a Cricket SA release on Monday quoted acting director of cricket Corrie van Zyl as saying.

“He brings an intimate knowledge of Indian playing conditions and the challenges our batsmen are likely to face. He also assisted us at the spin bowling camp we held recently in India and thus has already built up a good working relationship with Aiden Markram‚ Temba Bavuma and Zubayr Hamza.”

Muzumdar himself talked a good game‚ according to the release: “Cricket has always been and will continue to be my calling. Having spent 25 years on the pitch as a player I intend to spend the next 25 tapping and grooming talent on the cricket field.”

Muzumdar‚ 44‚ played 171 first-class matches — 103 of them for Mumbai — between February 1994 and November 2013. He scored 11,167 runs at an average of 48.13 with 30 centuries and 60 half-centuries.

As a coach he has worked with India’s under-19 and under-23 sides and with the Netherlands’ senior team. And it is as a coach that he matters for a SA team in need of guidance in the wake of a poor World Cup.

Markram was caught behind for a fourth-ball duck on Monday‚ with Hamza lasting 30 balls for his 13. It gets better from there‚ what with Muthusamy staying alive for 48 deliveries before being run out for 12. Piedt clipped his 33 off 45‚ hitting six fours‚ and Ngidi bumped his average up to 5.14 by scoring 15.

But Muzumdar’s work will be judged on how players further up the order than Muthusamy‚ Piedt and Ngidi get on. He has a plenty of work to do on that score‚ but he will know that a little improvement — particularly in Indian conditions — will go a long way.