• 2020: Work in progress for Boucher’s Proteas

    The Proteas capped off 2020 with a memorable Test victory and will undoubtedly be hoping for more success in the new year. ANDRE HUISAMEN takes a look at the performances of the past year.

    While Cricket South Africa fought for survival off the field, the Proteas were battling just as hard on it. 2020, however, provided unprecedented challenges for the cricketing world with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    As a result, two scheduled tours of the Proteas had to be postponed, while the highly-anticipated T20 World Cup had to be rescheduled for 2021.

    The South Africans will finish the year as the sixth best Test team in the world, occupying fifth spot on the respective ODI and T20I rankings.

    READ: Proteas smash Sri Lanka to take series lead

    After winning his first Test in charge of the Proteas, Mark Boucher and his team suffered three consecutive defeats to England at the start of the year.

    The 3-1 series defeat signalled how far off the Proteas were off from being a world class team once again with the retirement of Vernon Philander also leaving a massive void.

    The subsequent ODI series against the English finished in a draw, before the visitors won the T20 series 2-1.

    It only got worse for the Proteas, who were then defeated by Australia in the following T20 series in South Africa. Fortunately, though, the Proteas responded with a 3-0 ODI series whitewash.

    The Proteas then had to return home from their limited-overs tour of India in March without playing a single game. The Covid-19 pandemic brought a premature end to the South African cricket season and the postponement of the tours to West Indies and Sri Lanka caused further disappointment.

    It wasn’t until the end of November when the Proteas returned to action. The English yet again rubbing insult to injury with a 3-0 T20 series victory, while the three-match ODI series was postponed.

    Thankfully the Test series against Sri Lanka was able to go ahead, with the opening victory over a wounded Sri Lanka team providing a glimmer of hope for the new year.

    Kagiso Rabada’s return will also provide a big boost ahead of the second Test at the Wanderers. The fast-bowler is currently the only Proteas player in the top 10 of any of the ICC Test Player Rankings – sitting sixth in the bowling department.

    Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock both feature in the top 10 of the ODI Player Rankings in respective positions of sixth and ninth. Rabada, though, will start the new year as the fifth-ranked ODI bowler in the world.

    In the T20 format, Rassie van der Dussen sits in fifth on the batting standings, while Tabraiz Shamsi is ranked fifth on the bowling standings.

    De Kock finished the year with the most runs in Test cricket for the Proteas (398), while Heinrich Klaasen accumulated the most ODI runs (242), despite only playing three of the six matches. Van der Dussen enjoyed a good year with the bat in T2o – scoring 288 runs across the three series this year.

    Lungi Ngidi was the pick of the bowlers, taking the most wickets in both the T20 and ODI format with 17 and 12 scalps respectively. Anrich Nortje was the standout performer with the red ball, taking the most Test wickets for 2020 with a total of 16.

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    Andre Huisamen