SA Cricket magazine editor RYAN VREDE rates the Proteas players out of 10 in the series defeat by Pakistan.
Aiden Markram: 8
To finish the series as the series’ top batsman on a sub-continent tour is a notable feat. To do so with questions over your Test future hovering makes it more so. His talent is obvious, but his temperament has been under scrutiny. This tour was an examination of his temperament, and it stood up to that examination. May have edged ahead of other candidates for the Test captaincy with this series of performances.
Dean Elgar: 4
The world’s most consistent opening batsman of recent years didn’t have a good tour by his high standards. He averaged just over 30, and got out playing some dreadful shots with disconcerting regularity. If he harbours ambitions of captaining South Africa, this tour didn’t advance his cause.
Rassie van der Dussen: 5
His scoring sequence reads: 16 (run out by Elgar), 64, 0 (couldn’t do much about a ball that stayed low) and 48. Clearly got himself in in three of four innings, but never kicked on to play a match-defining knock. He has shown glimpses of being the answer at No 3, but after 14 innings the time has come to convert that promise into consistent productivity.
Faf du Plessis: 3
South Africa’s premier batsman scored 55 runs at an average of 13.75, and high score of 23. That is clearly unacceptable in the context of his experience and role in the team.
Temba Bavuma: 7
Much maligned for his perceived lack of meaningful contribution to the team, Bavuma ended as the fifth-highest run-scorer in the series, bagging 152 runs at an average of 54.oo and high score of 61. There is no question that he has to convert better when getting in, which he almost always does, as evidenced by his scoring sequence of 17,40, 44* and 61. But he was one the few batters who showed the type of mental grit befitting a Proteas player.
Quinton de Kock: 2
There are few words to describe how poor De Kock has been as a skipper and batsman, but I’ll try. He has mercifully been relieved of the Test captaincy, a job for which he has neither the appetite nor competency, seen through his lack of tactical intelligence, innovation and over-bowling his spinners. His batting is a serious concern as well. His highest score of 29 came in the first innings of the second Test. It appeared that, freed of the shackles of leadership, he was playing with the freedom that we’ve become accustomed to. But then, when his side were still in with a chance of a Test victory in the second dig, De Kock showed how little regard he had for the match situation, wafting at his first ball, only to get an edge to first slip. That added to a disgraceful hack in the first innings of the first Test, a tame prod in the second innings and a loose slash in the first innings of the second Test. Tellingly, his counterpart, Fawad Alam outscored him by 124 runs (170 vs 46), this despite having half De Kock’s talent.
George Linde: 5
All things considered, including that he dislocated his pinky finger in the first innings of the second Test, Linde did OK. He wasn’t a consistent enough wicket threat, ending the series with five wickets, all taken in one innings. But he didn’t leak runs, which undoubtedly contributed to wickets on the other end. His contribution of 75 runs was sub-par for a batsman of his quality, but he rarely came in with the pressure not cranked up. He’ll have to get better on both fronts if he wants to establish himself in the Test side, but his emergence was encouraging.
Wiaan Mulder: 5
A solitary wicket and just 24 overs bowled in the second Test (he wasn’t picked for the first) tell the whole story. It is perplexing why Mulder was so underutilised, especially when the ball started to reverse. He never leaked runs, reflected in an economy rate of 2.33. He certainly wasn’t a consistent wicket threat, but this doesn’t excuse his comparable lack of overs, especially when so few of the other bowlers were consistent wicket threats as well. Like Linde, he betrayed his talent with the bat, running himself out in the first innings of the first Test, after looking set on 33. He was in complete control, and will reflect on that decision with disappointment. Overall, he showed enough to suggest that he could develop into a very good Test all-rounder.
Keshav Maharaj: 5
It should have been expected that Maharaj would finish as South Africa’s leading wicket-taker in conditions that favoured him. However, he was nowhere near as consistently dangerous as Pakistan’s spin duo of Nauman Ali and Yasir Shah. Sure, Maharaj took two more wickets than them, but he bowled 37 more overs than Ali and 26 more than Shah. He averaged 31, in comparison to Ali’s 21.50 and Shah’s 30.37. To his credit, he did regularly take top-order wickets.
Kagiso Rabada: 4
Started the series brilliantly, taking three wickets in the first innings of the first Test, but then fell away badly, taking just two more for the entire series thereafter. They are different bowlers, but it will sting Rabada that Hasan Ali took seven more wickets than him, the majority of those with the new ball. That is a telling gulf between Rabada and a player who is ranked 43 places below him in Test cricket. On the batting front, Rabada continues to betray his potential, scoring just 22 runs across four innings, 21 of those in one innings.
Anrich Nortje: 5
The pick of the Proteas seamers, Nortje recovered from an average start in the first Test to take a five-for in the first innings of the second. He then went wicketless in the second dig, which is something that can be expected for someone in the infancy of his Test career. He’ll develop the consistency needed to become a key weapon in the Proteas attack in the years ahead.
Lungi Ngidi: 4
Brought in at the eleventh hour after Tabraiz Shamsi injured himself in the warm-up before the first Test. Went at nearly 3.5 per over in the first innings and nearly 6 in the second as Pakistan chased a small target.