RYAN VREDE rates the Proteas players on the weight of their performances in the series defeat by Pakistan.
A series defeat at home by a side ranked lower in the ODI format stings. However, there are mitigating factors, not least of all that the Proteas lost a clutch of their best players to the IPL for the series decider.
I wrote earlier this week that there are signs this Proteas side can develop into an elite ODI unit. Their batting inspires the most optimism, but there are concerns around their bowling, particularly at the death.
Some players shone and made statements of intent. Others did their international futures no favours. I’ve rated these players out of 10, considering only players who’ve played at least two matches in the series.
Aiden Markram – 5
If I were to rate Markram on the first 20 runs of his innings he’d get a 10. Instead, he gets half of that because of chronic brain fades. In 26 ODI innings, Aiden Markram has been dismissed between 20 and 50, 15 times. Getting out when set is defining his ODI career at this point. He and the coaching staff need to figure this out quickly. On the plus side, he did emerge as a really good bowling option. There needs to be an investment in this dimension of his skill set.
Quinton de Kock – 7
Frustrated when he got out for 20 in the first match, but his 80 in the second contributed significantly to the victory. He looked like his old, destructive self in that innings, which is encouraging after a period of struggle. Long may it continue because when De Kock is playing well, the Proteas are a formidable opponent.
Temba Bavuma – 6
His dismissal in the first match – an uppercut straight to third man with his side in trouble – was criminal. Bavuma redeemed himself with an excellent 92 in the second match, an innings that helped set up victory. Failed when his side needed a repeat of his Wanderers heroics in the series decider, which left him with an ordinary average of 37 for the series. The Proteas need him to contribute consistently at No 3 if they are to realise their batting potential. It is unfair to make an absolute judgement on his captaincy after three matches. There were a mix of good and not so good decisions in this regard, but time will form a clearer picture of Bavuma, the skipper.
Rassie van der Dussen – 9
Scored 183 runs at an average of 183 and had an incredible strike rate touching 108 in the series. He now averages 80.90 after ODI 18 innings. No Proteas player in history has scored more runs after 18 innings than he has. He has established himself as one of the best in the format in the world and the fulcrum around which the Proteas batting revolves.
David Miller – 8
I loved watching David Miller work in this series. He was a study of patience and power, the former needed when he came to the crease early in the first match, while the latter was exhibited through an unbeaten 50 off 27 deliveries in the second. He is 31 and seems to have matured into the player many believed he could be at the outset of his international career, evidenced by him scoring 273 runs in his last six ODI innings, during which he has only been dismissed twice. That sequence of scores reads: 69*, 64, 37*, 3*, 50, 50*. Long may his form continue.
Heinrich Klaasen – 2
Klaasen’s contributions across three innings in this series: 1, 11, 4. This against a side ranked lower than SA, in home conditions. His excellence against Australia in the Proteas’ last ODI series rightfully excited many, and he may yet recover his form to build a long ODI career. This wasn’t his series, though, and with Kyle Verreynne’s hot start to his ODI career, Klaasen will feel the pressure to perform more than ever before.
Andile Phehlukwayo – 4
Phehlukwayo is 61 matches into his ODI career and still we can’t be sure what we’re going to get from him. In the context of the Proteas’ batting, he fills an absolutely vital spot, one that the best Proteas ODI teams have had a world-class operator at. But he hasn’t translated his immense batting talent into match-defining contributions nearly enough. That talent soared in the second match, reminding us Phehlukwayo is a serious all-rounder, albeit an inconsistent one. His efforts with the ball were average. He took five wickets across the three matches, but never changed the course of a match, whether he operated in the middle overs, or as the Proteas’ premier death bowler. He bombed in the final match, conceding 37 runs in four overs, which, as the most experienced bowler in the attack by some distance, was just unacceptable.
Kagiso Rabada – 5
Rabada was once among the world’s elite bowlers in this format, but injuries have limited his involvement recently and this has affected his potency. He took just two wickets in a series where his fellow heat slinger, Anrich Nortje, excelled. While Rabada’s economy rate for the series (4.70) is outstanding considering how flat the wickets were, the Proteas desperately need him to take big sticks in the opposition’s top order, or rip apart the batting in the middle overs in a manner Nortje did so brilliantly. As an aside, I still feel like he and the coaching staff don’t invest enough in his batting ability.
Anrich Nortje – 9
That he finished as the series’ joint-top wicket-taker despite only playing two of the three matches speaks to his impact. Not only was he an irrepressible force when his team needed him most, he also finished the series with an economy rate below six, which is a notable feat on wickets that were unforgiving if seamers were even slightly off the mark. He is a threat no matter where in the innings he bowls. Players like Nortje are gold.
Tabraiz Shamsi – 4
The Proteas selectors have hoped for some time that Shamsi can carry his T20 potency into ODI cricket. It hasn’t happened, and while he has hardly been a disaster, he certainly hasn’t advanced his cause. He showed up well in the first match, conceding 51 runs in his 10 overs. The second was a nightmare, during which he went for nearly nine runs per over and was hooked after seven overs. This allowed Pakistan back into the match, and forced Temba Bavuma to turn to Aiden Markram to make up Shamsi’s overs. Keshav Maharaj was preferred for the final match and was excellent, taking 3-45-10 in an innings where Pakistan scored 320. Shamsi remains a vital T20 player, but his ODI days are numbered.
Lungi Ngidi – 4
I’m not sure the Proteas selectors know what they want Ngidi to be. Perhaps they’re asking him to be more than he has the capacity to. He got the new nut in the first two matches but made no impact and leaked runs. He was equally impotent when asked to bowl in the middle overs or at the death, finishing the series with just one wicket and an economy rate touching seven. He has played 28 ODIs, so there has been an investment in him. He needs to provide some return on that investment, and soon.