SACricketmag.com rates the Proteas’ player performances from their 2-1 Test series victory against Australia.
Dean Elgar –161 runs @32.20 SR: 38.42
He only passed 20 once, but the one time he did was crucial. His 250-run partnership with JP Duminy changed the course of the first Test, and bar one blip in the slips, he caught very well, taking five catches. Consistency will be required from him in the coming months as his side’s most senior opener.
Stephen Cook – 179 runs @35.80 SR: 40.04
Surprisingly ended with more runs than his opening partner, but certainly didn’t look more comfortable. Cook struggled for form in the build-up to the series and his confidence was shot. He finally came right in the third Test, and his resolute century in the second innings showed a lot of grit. Whether it will be enough to keep his place in the side, only time will tell, but he couldn’t handle Mitchell Starc’s pace, getting his feet stuck even when he’d spent a considerable amount of time in the middle.
Hashim Amla – 98 runs @19.60 SR: 57.64
A disappointing series for Amla. It’s encouraging to see him play with a lot more attacking flair than we have seen in the past, but he kept going out in the same manner, pushing at balls on good lengths and edging them behind, all off Josh Hazlewood’s bowling. It’s hopefully a matter of ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’, but more is needed from their No 3 in a big series like that. Luckily everyone else in the top seven scored centuries. He didn’t even score a fifty.
JP Duminy – 184 runs @36.80 SR: 55.25, 1 wicket @84.00 Econ: 3.50
A bit like Elgar, it was one big knock that defined his series. It was in the partnership with Elgar that saw Duminy step up really impressively. No one plays a cover drive more elegantly than Duminy in that South African batting lineup, and needing to step up at No 4 in the absence of AB de Villiers, he duly delivered with that 141. Again, though, more consistency is needed from a top-four batsman, with a next-best score of 26. Didn’t do too much with the ball, and was particularly ineffectual in Australia’s first innings in the third Test.
Faf du Plessis – 206 runs @51.50 SR: 58.35
Led his side to a third-consecutive away series in Australia, and led excellently. Soaked up the pressure at key stages and rose above the ball-tampering allegations and boos to score an excellent century in Adelaide. He clearly gets the best out of his players, and they look up to him as a leader. It’s difficult to see him stepping down when AB de Villiers returns.
Temba Bavuma – 162 runs @32.40 SR: 43.43, 1 wicket @30.00 Econ: 3.75
Bavuma was a pleasure to watch throughout the series, not just for his batting, but the way in which he would always keep himself in the game. His fifties in each of the first two Tests were arguably better and certainly more important than his century at Newlands. Unlike Du Plessis and Cook’s centuries, Bavuma’s fifties actually contributed towards victories. Throw in one of the best run outs in Test history and a maiden Test wicket, and you have a player who excels beyond his role as a No 6 batsman.
Quinton De Kock – 281 runs @56.20 SR: 71.50
De Kock has officially arrived as a Test cricketer. South Africa’s highest run-scorer in the series and second overall, De Kock turned average totals into excellent ones at No 7. The comparisons with Adam Gilchrist flew in left, right and centre, as he demoralised the Aussie bowling attacks by scoring big and scoring quickly. He formed an excellent combination with Bavuma in the lower-middle order, and long may it continue.
Vernon Philander – 136 runs @27.20 SR: 55.28, 12 wickets @23.58 Econ:2.73
Man of the Series, not just for leading the bowling line with distinction in the absence of Dale Steyn, but for his contributions as a batsman at No 8. His 73 took the game completely away from the Aussies in the second innings in Perth. His efforts with the new ball in the first two Tests were relentless – he gave nothing away and took bags of wickets. Struggled a bit with the pink ball and appeared to lose a bit of pace off it, but Big Vern is definitely back.
Kyle Abbott – 20 runs, 13 wickets @14.84 Econ: 2.57
The way Kyle Abbott puts his hand up for a challenge is an absolute blessing for the Proteas. He did it with a Man of the Match display in the fifth ODI against the same opposition in September, and did it again in Hobart. His efforts allowed Steyn’s absence to be quickly forgotten. He would again be the outstanding bowler in Adelaide, sending down 29 overs in the first innings and taking 3-49. An economy rate like that built up an incredible amount of pressure.
Kagiso Rabada – 24 runs, 15 wickets @22.40 Econ: 3.10
My personal choice for Man of the Series. He keeps getting better every series he plays, and he’s added a lot more fire to his aggression, which is only bad news for the opposition. The way he steamed in in the second innings at the Waca was a joy to watch, and rightfully bagged him the Man of the Match award. He then went on to take four wickets in as many overs in the second innings at Hobart, destroying the Australian middle order. The man is special, but hopefully he won’t be overworked in the upcoming series’.
Tabraiz Shamsi – 18 runs, 2 wickets @50:00 Econ: 3.42
He will be disappointed with the way his debut turned out. Brought into the team due to his knack for forcing mistakes and his apparent threat with the pink ball, Shamsi didn’t get his stock deliveries to turn as much as he would have wanted and battled to build up any of the pressure that Keshav Maharaj managed to do in the first two Tests. Maharaj will likely be the incumbent come the Sri Lanka series. Shamsi still provides a very useful attacking option; it just didn’t work out for him in Adelaide.
Keshav Maharaj – 58 runs, 4 wickets @40.50 Econ: 2.47
Maharaj did very little wrong in the first two Tests, but perhaps it was his lack of doing anything excellent that saw him removed from the side for the third Test. He can proudly say that his first-ever Test wicket was the No 1 batsman in the world, Steve Smith, and went on to take two more wickets in that first innings, before proving his capabilities with the bat at No 9 with a 32-ball 41. Then he sent down 40 overs in the second innings and conceded just 94 runs. He was more than useful, and looks set for an extended run in the team.
Dale Steyn – 4 runs, 1 wicket @51.00 Econ: 4.02
Steyn broke a bone in his shoulder in the first innings of the first Test and is likely to be out for up to six months. Let’s hope he still has the hunger to recover from this and come out guns blazing next year like he threatened to do at the start of this summer.
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