Who’s done enough to cement their place in the side? Tom Sizeland rates the players across the two Tests.
STEPHEN COOK – 6
Cook will be disappointed not to have pushed on to a big score in the three opportunities he had, but did well to see off the new ball in Durban and his steadiness in the first innings in Centurion allowed Quinton de Kock to do his thing at the other end.
DEAN ELGAR – 5
Like Cook, battled well for his 19 in the first innings of the first Test. Went on to put down a straightforward chance in the slips, but then again he wasn’t the only one. Injured for the second Test, but his place is all but secure for the summer.
HASHIM AMLA – 7
Amla’s recent flurry of runs for various T20 teams has really paid off. He was always looking to unsettle and score runs against the New Zealanders without doing anything drastically unnecessary. A pair of fifties is hopefully a sign of more things to come now that he’s been unburdened from the captaincy.
FAF DU PLESSIS – 7.5
Faf can take a lot of credit for the way he managed to carve out a century, at the venue he was dropped for in the fourth Test against England. Sitting on 26 off 97 balls at one point, run-scoring looked like an almighty chore, but he managed to shake off his lack of form and confidence and find his rhythm. As a captain, he made the correct choice to not follow on and nailed the point of declaration.
JP DUMINY – 6
The jury is still out. Is one good knock enough to keep him in the side? Generally looked in good touch after being handed De Villiers’ place at No 4, but gave his wicket away needlessly in Durban, and then again when he was 12 runs short of a century. He wasn’t needed as a bowler, which strengthens the point that he should be seen purely as a batsman. He hasn’t contributed enough in recent times to suggest that he should still be in the side when De Villiers returns.
TEMBA BAVUMA – 7
A solid effort throughout from Bavuma. Scored runs when his team needed them the most, and his close fielding was excellent, which included the big run out of Ross Taylor in the first innings at Centurion. He was the second-highest scorer in two of the three innings, plugging the top-order collapse on both occasions.
STIAAN VAN ZYL – 5
From opener to No 7, Van Zyl has had a bit of a raw deal. Nonetheless, he failed to stand out and stake a claim for a place in the side. His 35 showed promise but he got bogged down in the second innings. It was good to see that the selectors have done away with him as an opener, but the best he can do now is be a back-up middle-order batsman for the Australia tour.
QUINTON DE KOCK – 8
De Kock has become a genuine attacking asset to the side, and while he came under fire for giving away his wicket in Durban, his intent was pleasing to watch. On top of keeping excellently in the second Test, he stuck his hand up to open the batting and excelled almost effortlessly. At one point in the second innings, he was on 17 off six balls, which in the context of the game was the boost the Proteas needed to take the game completely away from the Black Caps. He became the first wicketkeeper for South Africa to score fifties in both innings as an opener, but looks Gilchrist-esque coming in at No 7.
VERNON PHILANDER – 8.5
Big vern is back. He showed glimpses of it in Durban and carried it through to Centurion with the same uncomplicated and patient approach that led him to become the fastest South Africa to 100 Test wickets. Bowling at that 3/4 length on the fourth stump, he let the pitch do the rest. The pressure on the batsmen was incessant when he bowled, and if he can stay fit, we’re in for an exciting summer with the new ball.
KAGISO RABADA – 7
Starting to show more fire and aggression as he gets more comfortable in the side. He got it up to 150km/h-plus at times and made the batsmen extremely uncomfortable with a series of nasty short deliveries. He chipped in with five wickets, too, including that of Kane Williamson in the first innings. He really is the final ingredient to a potent pace trident.
DANE PIEDT – 6
Played a backseat role as the pacemen dominated proceedings, but kept himself in the game by taking a wicket in each innings, and was a constant threat in the second innings as he got it to turn sharply in the footmarks. Did nothing to suggest he doesn’t deserve to be the frontline spinner for the summer.
DALE STEYN – 9
What can we say about Steyn, apart from the fact that he’s proved all his doubters wrong? He looks as fresh and hungry as ever, and is now just six wickets away from becoming South Africa’s leading Test wicket-taker. Across the two Tests, his bowling figures read 10-102. He’s back with a bang.
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