The 2016-17 SA Cricketer of the Year will be announced at the CSA Awards on Saturday evening. Who will take home the prize?
The 2016-17 season will go down as a very successful one for the Proteas. An excellent test season, which saw them defeat New Zealand home and away, as well as a series victories against Australia Down Under and a clean sweep of Sri Lanka at home in between that, moved the Proteas from as low as No 7 on the test rankings to No 2.
Their performances in the ODI format was even more impressive, as they tied their record for the most consecutive victories (12), and in that run included whitewash series victories over Australia and Sri Lanka, as well as a 3-2 series win in New Zealand. It culminated in a No 1 ranking for AB de Villiers’ side.
TESTS: W7 D3 L1
ODIs: W16 NR1 L5
T20s: W2 L2
The new season begins with a three-match ODI series against England before the Champions Trophy, but let’s reflect on the four players who have been deemed by the judging panel as vital cogs in their dominant season, between the period 3 June 2016 – 29 March 2017.
QUINTON DE KOCK
Tests Matches: 11 Runs: 926 Average: 54.47 HS: 104 Ct/St: 45/3
ODIs Matches: 22 Runs: 954 Average: 45.42 HS: 178 Ct/St: 24/2
It will be difficult to argue should De Kock be awarded SA’s best cricketer for 2016-17. He scored the most test runs in this period for the Proteas, with the majority of his runs coming at No 7, all in a period which saw him rise above Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers to No 6 in the batting rankings. The 24-year-old was equally as superb in the 50-over format, with his 178 off just 113 balls in the first ODI against Australia setting the tone for the rest of the whitewash series. A highlights reel could be made of his wicketkeeping alone this season – a discipline in which he has improved vastly in the past year.
FAF DU PLESSIS
Tests Matches: 11 Runs: 744 Average: 57.23 HS: 118*
ODIs Matches: 20 Runs: 999 Average: 62.43 HS: 185
No one will begrudge this man winning it either, in what has been Du Plessis’ most significant period in his cricketing career. He was tasked with captaining the test team after De Villiers’ omission resulted in him being handed the role on a full-time basis. He also skippered the ODI side to a 5-0 win against the Australians. He responded to the mint-gate scandal with a century in their first day-night test in Adelaide. This followed an even bolder declaration in that innings, which signified the way he was going to go about his captaincy. He was even more prolific with that bat in ODIs, rising to No 5 in the world rankings. His 185 against Sri Lanka – the second-highest individual innings by a South African – helped him to within a single run of scoring 1 000 this past season.
Tests Matches: 11 Wickets: 47 Average: 23.17 BB: 6-55
ODIs Matches: 20 Wickets: 27 Average: 31.03 BB: 3-13
Rabada has arguably had his fair share of prizes, after winning a record six awards last year. Still, he followed up an immaculate start to his international career with another fantastic period in white clothing. In fact, his test season was even better than his previous, and he could well be in line for another Test Cricketer of the Year gong. He rose to No 7 in the test bowling rankings and No 5 in ODIs. He’s turned from a player with potential to one that is genuinely feared by his opposition.
ODIs Matches: 20 Wickets: 35 Average: 22.42 BB: 7-45
T20s Matches: 4 Wickets: 11 Average: 7.18 BB: 5-24
In an ODI season dominated by the batsmen, leg-spinner Tahir has been simply superb in the shorter formats, to the point that one can’t imagine a limited-overs Proteas side without him. He’s 38, but he’s as fresh as ever, and he’s the No 1 ODI and T20 bowler in the world. He’s not utilised in the longer format, which probably rules him out of winning this award, but his recognition was justified with 35 wickets from 20 ODIs, in a season which saw him become the fifth-quickest to 100 ODI wickets of all time, as well as notching up the best ODI figures by a South African with 7-45 against West Indies in June last year.
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