Johannesburg: Looking to dissect South Africa's dismal performance in the Test series in India, former coach Mickey Arthur today said the Proteas batsmen lost their self confidence on difficult Indian tracks during their 0-3 loss.
The Hashim Amla-led side not only recorded their first overseas Test loss in nine years, but also two of the matches in under three days. Arthur, who was Australian coach when the Kangaroos lost to India 0-4, said that it's tough batting on Indian pitches.
"The wickets in India are extremely difficult and you can see how the entire batting order lost self-confidence. The same happened to Australia in India during my last tour with them there. We had exactly the same pitches there, which Australian and South African batsmen struggle with," Arthur, who was fired from the Australia job after the loss against India, told the Afrikaans daily Beeld here.
Arthur called on the senior Proteas players, especially Faf du Plessis and Jean-Paul Duminy, to put up their hands and help the batting order regain its confidence.
"They are good, experienced players and it's high time that they played their part," said Arthur.
Arthur also believes that the national team's think tank should not use star player AB de Villiers as a wicketkeeper.
"The temptation to use AB as wicketkeeper is always huge, because it places you in a position to choose an extra player," Arthur said. "(De Villiers) is the best batsman in the world and you render him less effective as batsman by giving him this additional role," Arthur added.
Arthur said he would opt for Stephen Cook to anchor the innings because he did not see Stiaan van Zyl having the natural ability of an opening batsman.
Arthur said South Africa needed consistency at the top of their batting list.
"It reminds me of the time when we roped in Neil McKenzie as (captain) Graeme Smith's opening partner (in the 2008 and 2009 seasons).
"He gave us consistency in a time when we needed it. I think Cook can be a short-term solution."
McKenzie was brought in after four years away from Test matches as a substitute opener post Herschelle Gibbs losing his place in the side.
Although Cook has not played in any Tests yet, he has been one of the best opening batsmen in local cricket for a number of years, recording his 34th century in an inter-provincial match last week.
"A good opening partnership reduces the pressure on all the other batsmen and also improves the rest of the batting order," Arthur said.