Shane Warne has picked the best South Africa Test XI since 1990 that he played against, and there are some surprising selections.
Warne named the late Hansie Cronje as the greatest South Africa captain.
Cronje captained South Africa to 27 victories in 53 Tests, averaging 36.32 with three centuries as skipper. He also took 38 wickets at 25.73 as captain. His achievements were overshadowed when it was revealed he was involved in match fixing in mid-2000, and was immediately stripped of the captaincy and slapped with a life ban from the sport. He died in a plane crash in 2002.
Warne also initially left out pace spearhead Dale Steyn for Fanie de Villiers, but quickly edited his post about 45 minutes later.
‘Fanie de Villiers was the hardest player to leave out as he was all quality,’ Warne wrote of the right-armer who took 85 wickets in 18 Tests, including a second-innings 6-43 against Warne’s Australia in January 1994 that lead South Africa to a win in just his second Test.
Warne also could find no place for Lance Klusener in his Test XI but did say he ‘would make any world XI one-day team’.
‘But [I] couldn’t’ squeeze him in ahead of Jonty Rhodes as Jonty’s all-round ability was amazing and redefined fielding in my opinion,’ Warne wrote.
‘Peter Kirsten was at the end of his career when I played against him, so didn’t see the best of him. Brian McMillan was stiff to miss out as he was a quality allrounder, great slipper and fun to play against.
‘[Andrew] Hudson another player stiff to not make the opening position.’
The leg-spinner and South Africa’s opener have history – Warne delivered an ugly spray after bowling Hudson around his legs in Johannesburg in 1994, and Warne wrote of his regret over the incident in his autobiography.
As Hudson and Cronje were batting Australia out of the first Test at The Wanderers, captain Allan Border turned to his champion leg-spinner and said: ‘We need you, Warnie. Come on, get us a wicket.’
Amidst a background of being hounded relentlessly for autographs and abused on the boundary by spectators, Warne’s autobiography takes up the tale: ‘After all the trouble back at the hotel, and at the ground, by the time I got the ball I was really pumped up. I was in a state and wanted to show all the 40,000 people at the ground that I was going to fix them right up.
‘I was desperate to get a wicket and with my third ball I bowled Hudson behind his legs. That set me off. I lost it completely and started telling him to “**** off. Go on, Hudson, **** off out of here!”
‘Hudson is a good player and a lovely bloke, a good friend of my close mate Jonty Rhodes. Andrew had done nothing to deserve that sort of abuse. Eventually Ian Healy grabbed me and tried to stop me.
‘I look back at it now and wonder what was going on.’
Of his greatest Test XI bowling attack, Warne said his back-ups would be fast bowler Rudi Bryson and left-arm spinner Paul Adams, he of the unorthodox action that was famously likened to a ‘frog in a blender’ by England’s Mike Gatting.
‘Lastly, sorry Mr Cullinan but couldn’t squeeze you in,’ Warne wrote with an excess of exclamation points. ‘Was fun bowling to you though!’ – cricket.com.au
Shane Warne’s greatest South Africa Test XI since 1990:
Graeme Smith, Gary Kirsten, Jacques Kallis, AB De Villiers, Hansie Cronje (c), Jonty Rhodes, Mark Boucher, Shaun Pollock, Pat Symcox, Dale Steyn, Allan Donald.