The Proteas managed to finish 2019 on a welcome high after beating England by 107 runs. SACricketmag.co.za reflects on the ups and downs of the past year.
A lot of off-field turmoil took its toll in recent weeks, with a change of personnel building up to the England series. On the field the Proteas suffered even further, culminating in a disastrous World Cup, losing to Sri Lanka in a Test series on home soil, all before enduring humiliation at the hands of India in October.
The Proteas started the year on a positive note beating Pakistan 3-0 in a Test series before also overcoming Micky Arthur’s team in the following ODI and T20 series. The positive performances against Pakistan didn’t last long, though, as the Proteas were comprehensively beaten by a weak Sri Lanka outfit in two Test matches, played in Durban and Port Elizabeth. Despite winning the ODI and T20 series against the islanders, it was clear that everything wasn’t well in the Proteas camp.
The World Cup in England that followed two months later pretty much proved that. With Ottis Gibson’s job on the line, the Proteas went from bad to worse as they managed only three wins from their nine group matches. Rare victories over Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Australia were all they had to show for the campaign, while big defeats by England, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India set the tone for a miserable few weeks in England.
Under interim coach Enoch Nkwe, the Proteas travelled to India at the end of September in an even further disarray of uncertainty. It ended in a 3-0 whitewash at the hands of Virat Kohli and his men, with the Proteas losing the second and third Tests by an innings margin.
Before beating England on Sunday, the Proteas went five Test matches without a win as they ended the year with three wins out of eight. Apart from the World Cup, the Proteas’ ODI record for the year looks good after beating Pakistan 3-2 and Sri Lanka 5-0.
Only Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock and Dean Elgar managed to score centuries in red-ball cricket this year with the wicketkeeper finishing as the highest run-scorer, while Kagiso Rabada was the pick of the bowlers in this format with a total of 33 wickets this year.
On the ODI front the top performers were the same, with De Kock (469 runs) and Rabada (13 wickets) again at the top of the two lists for most runs and wickets for the year.
After the eight T20Is played this year – against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India – Reeza Hendricks finished as the outright leading run-scorer (280) and Andile Phehlukwayo with the most wickets (13).