Keshav Maharaj’s irrepressible form won South Africa a Test series, while Wiaan Mulder showed glimpses of what lies on the other side of his struggles. RYAN VREDE rates the Proteas after their convincing win in Gqeberha.
Dean Elgar – 7
In his past 20 Tests (16 completed innings), Elgar averages 90.57. No opener in Test cricket can match this record. Since taking over as Test skipper, he hasn’t lost a series, despite playing against India and New Zealand in that period. He would have been disappointed not to get a century in the first innings, but that should not detract from an important contribution with the bat, and through his leadership.
Sarel Erwee – 5
Somehow always looks ‘in’ but finds ways to get out. His first-innings dismissal came after yet another attempt at a booming drive. His second – a chip to short mid-on – came after he should have been out on nought after Mehidy Hasan Miraz inexplicably lost track of the ball’s flight path. The selectors believe in Erwee and he has to repay that investment with greater consistency.
Keegan Petersen – 6
Played really well for his 60 in the first innings but, like so many Proteas batters, failed to kick on when a hundred was on offer. Showed enough to reinforce the belief that the Proteas have solved their problem at No 3.
Temba Bavuma – 7
Got a really good ball on 67 in the first innings, but again showed the consistency that has marked the past 18 months. His strike rotation is a marked feature of this ‘new’ Bavuma. It allows him to play without the cumulative pressure he put himself under previously. Long may this form continue.
Ryan Rickelton – 6
His aggressive intent adds a potent dimension to the Proteas batting lineup, but it has cost him his wicket on a few occasions in his short Test career. He should figure things out as his career progresses, but has marked himself as a player worth investing in.
Kyle Verreynne – 6
I was disappointed with his dismissal in the first innings. A player of his calibre should not be missing those, especially given he was set on 22. But he looked good in the second innings, before the declaration robbed him of what looked to be a certain half-century. His keeping to the Proteas spin duo, who were ripping it with bounce, was excellent.
Wiaan Mulder – 7
I don’t know how the selectors justified Mulder’s inclusion after his Kingsmead horror show, but he took the chance, scoring 33 in the first dig and then being the fulcrum around which the bowling was built. Mulder is a talented player, and that was on show in this Test, but he needs time to rebuild form and confidence in domestic cricket. A stint on the English county circuit could do him the world of good.
Keshav Maharaj – 10
No spinner in world cricket can match him right now. After being omitted for the first Test against New Zealand, Maharaj played a central role in their victory in the second. He then went on to decimate Bangladesh at Kingsmead, and did so again in Gqeberha, taking a seven-for in the second innings. Add to that his growing competence with the bat, evidenced by an excellent 84 in the first innings, and you have a game-defining player, the likes of which are rare in Test cricket.
Simon Harmer – 8
The Test would probably have been over even earlier had Harmer not bowled late in the first innings. He took three wickets in 10 overs then and played an invaluable role in applying pressure when bowling in tandem with Maharaj in the second innings. Consider also that he contributed 29 with the bat in the first innings, and you have an idea of the headache he’s given the Proteas selectors.
Lizaad Williams – 4
A poor showing in conditions that gave new-ball bowlers something. His 12 first-innings overs cost 4.25 per over, which underlined his struggles. In Durban, he showed that he has potential, so one poor Test should not define him.
Duanne Olivier – 5
Arguably his strongest performance for the Proteas since getting into the side this summer. But he has done nothing to advance his cause in a loaded pace arsenal. The Proteas have no use for a seamer who bowls in the high 120s. They need the tearaway Olivier was at one stage in his career. I hope he finds that version of himself soon.