From captain Faf du Plessis’ struggles in Test cricket and relative success in ODI competition, to fast bowler Junior Dala’s T20I breakthrough and more – here’s South Africa’s 2018 in review.
- No stalemates
South Africa didn’t draw one Test in 2018, after playing 10, winning six and losing four. Only England and India won more Tests in the same period, but played three and four more respectively. ODI cricket brought the Proteas nine wins and eight losses, while seven T20Is yielded four and three.
- Second to Rabada
Fast bowler Kagiso Rabada’s rise to the top of 2018’s top wicket-taker charts is well documented, but who took the second most for the Proteas? Spinner Keshav Maharaj, indeed, was next. He claimed 34 in nine matches – 18 wickets less than Rabada’s 52. The spinner gathered as many innings five-fors (two) and match 10-fors (one) as the pace ace, though. Seamers Lungi Ngidi and Junior Dala were the Proteas’ top wicket-takers in ODI and T20I competition, respectively, in 2018.
- Other than Faf
Captain Faf du Plessis weathered a forgettable year with the bat in Tests, while the young Aiden Markram gathered the most runs – 672 at an average of 33.60. Fellow opener Dean Elgar was a close second with 661 at 36.72, also across 10 innings. Du Plessis was the country’s leading ODI run-scorer – and JP Duminy the highest in T20I cricket.
- Large, but not huge
South Africa’s highest Test total was 488 all out, amassed against Australia at the Wanderers in Johannesburg. The tally was only the ninth largest of the year and 200-plus less than the highest – Sri Lanka’s hefty 713 for nine gathered against Bangladesh in Chittagong. The Proteas’ lowest Test total of 73 all out, eked against Sri Lanka in Galle, was third only to Bangladesh’s 43 versus the West Indies in North Sound, and New Zealand’s 58 against England in Auckland.
- Markam at the double
The year brought only two double centurions in Test cricket – Bangladesh’s Mushfiqur Rahim and New Zealand’s Tom Latham. Markram collected South Africa’s highest and second highest scores – 152 at the Wanderers and 143 at Kingsmead. Both were scored against the Australians. South Africa’s highest ODI score came from the left-handed David Miller, whose 139 against the Australians entertained the Hobart crowd.
- In with the new
South Africa blooded 12 debutants across three formats in 2018. Ngidi was the only one in Test cricket. He also welcomed a maiden ODI cap, as did Dala and batsmen Khaya Zondo, Christiaan Jonker, Heinrich Klaasen and Reeza Hendricks. Dala, Klaasen and Jonker accompanied batsmen Gihahn Cloete and Rassie van der Dussen as the Proteas’ newest T20I cricketers, too.
- Out with the old
Fast bowler Morne Morkel and former captain AB de Villiers were South Africa’s two major retirements this year. Morkel played the last of 86 Tests, 117 ODIs and 44 T20Is in March, while De Villiers ended a 14-year career in the same month. Morkel has since started forging a career in county cricket with Surrey, while De Villiers will continue to play in lucrative domestic T20 tournaments – including the Pakistan Super League, Bangladesh Premier League and Indian Premier League – around the world.
- MSL joins other acronyms
South Africa eventually got its own version of the IPL, PSL, BPL, Big Bash League and Caribbean Premier League in 2018, as the Mzansi Super League launched when the doomed Global T20 League didn’t. The champions Jozi Stars won R7-million, while beaten finalists Cape Town Blitz pocketed R2.5-million.