On the back of the successful test series against Australia and New Zealand, Graeme Smith and his boys took on the Pakistani’s in the last of the summer tests. And once again the Protea’s demonstrated the ruthless ability to strangle opposition out of games with the intensity that was lacking in the past. And although it was a great team performance, there were some performances that stood out for me and some that left a lot to be desired. Here are the All Things Jabu list of Winners and Losers.
The first man to captain in test matches 100 times, the first man to captain South Africa in 100 tests, the first man to captain a team to 50 wins. Graeme Smith has now played 110 test matches. His form over the series was disappointing with only one 50 to speak of. But the direct correlation with South Africa’s form and Graeme’s leadership is difficult to separate and the hope must certainly be that Biff stays on for a good few more years.
AB De Villiers
AB has slowly, but surely, been adapting to his dual role as wicket keeper and batsmen. This series seemed to be when it all finally clicked. 11 catches in the first test equalled a record set in 1995 and he coupled them with 2 centuries, a fifty and the most runs in the series at an average of 88. AB is one of the most devastating batsmen on his day
Dale Steyn & Vernon Philander
It is near impossible to separate the top two bowlers in the world and this series was another occassion where that was true. Together they took 35 of the 60 Pakistan wickets available at an average of 12.9 and 15.8 respectively. Dale Steyn’s devastating spell of 6/8 from 8 overs saw South Africa dismiss a third opponent for under 50 in just over a year. And after Steyn took 11 in the first test (the same amount that Pakistans top bowler took in the series), Philander took 9 in the second. This duo may possibly be the greatest bowling partnership in the modern era of cricket.
What a debut. His adaptation to test cricket was immense as he followed in the footsteps of Marchant de Lange, Kleinveldt and Du Plessis who have all made stellar introductions to the 5-day-game. His 7-29 was the second best on debut by a South African, behind Lance Klusener and 9th best in the history of the game. His match figures of 9-68 are the third best by a South African in test history. Its an exciting time for South African test cricket when you consider a choice of Steyn, Philander, Morkel, Kleinveldt, Abbott and Peterson.
It might have been a long time coming, as well as only delayed by the brilliance of Michael Clarke, but the mighty # is now the World Number 1 batsmen. After another successful series which saw him average 78.50. He is the rock around which our middle order is built and its his solidity that has led to AB being able to play a more natural role again.
I wont talk about it much, but the ludicrous decision to give Kallis out when it was not within the rules of the game, made the BCCI lick their lips as more evidence was added to the docket of evidence again DRS.
After his century against New Zealand under no pressure at all, Elgar was finally tested under pressure and he was found short. His four innings produced 67 runs. With JP Duminy likely to be fit for the next series in November, Elgar will in all likelihood not feature in November. With Stiaan van Zyl and Riley Rossouw playing fantastic cricket in the Sunfoil Series, Elgar will be peering over his shoulder, rather than forward.
As enjoyable as test cricket is right now as a Protea’s fan. Test cricket is not directly benefiting from the ruthlessness of the South African’s now. In our last 5 test matches there has been only 18 days of Test cricket out of a possible 25 and a few of those days have been pretty short too. We need more tests like the SA vs. Australia series.
Probably Alviro’s worst series since he has made his return to the South African side. He seemed to struggle with all of the bowlers and scored a paltry 75 runs in 5 innings at an average of 15. His performances before may see him safe for now, but Elgar might be itching to get a go at the top of the order where he is generally better in franchise side.
Most of Pakistan’s batsmen, but specifically Mohammed Hafeez
I could put any of Pakistan’s suspect batting line-up here, but I will single out Mohammed Hafeez. He score 43 runs in 6 innings at an average of 7.16. He was caught behind on a regular basis and was seemingly unable to deal with the ability of the South African opening bowlers. His bowling was okay, but he is in the team to bat and he failed miserably, much like many of his team mates.