Graeme Smith 9/10
Runs: 282, Highest score: 115, Average: 56.40
If there was ever any doubt about the Proteas Test captain’s continued worth in the longest format of the game, he certainly closed that debate in New Zealand. A colossal performance in the first Test when he scored a first-innings 50 and followed it up with a century in the second was the highlight of the tour for him, especially as he had gone into the Test with an injury concern. However, it was the second-innings half-century in the second Test in Hamilton that was more important as it took South Africa home and into an all-important 1-0 series lead. His leadership has also been enterprising, with the marshalling of his all-star attack a feature of this series.
Alviro Petersen 7/10
Runs: 261, HS: 156, Ave: 43.50
Petersen has scored the second-most runs in the series, but before the final Test in Wellington, he was actually under pressure. He had again fallen foul of what got him dropped last year – not converting promising starts into substantial scores. But that all changed at the Basin Reserve where his 156 in the first innings set the platform for the Proteas’ highest total of the series.
Hashim Amla 7/10
Runs: 189, HS: 63, Ave: 47.25
Amla’s average may be impressive, but South Africa’s No 3 knows he left a few “big ones” out in the middle during this series, especially in the first Test in Dunedin. To be fair to the Dolphins stalwart, though, he was setting himself up nicely here in Wellington, only to be felled when an inside edge ricocheted on to his box. It was a painful blow, and it was actually a tribute to his pain threshold that he continued and carved out his 23rd Test half-century. A good rest awaits Amla in South Africa now as he prepares for the England series later this year.
Jacques Kallis 6/10
Runs: 119, HS: 113, Ave: 39.66
It has been an indifferent series for South Africa’s premier batsman. He scored a glorious century, and was involved in a 200-run partnership with Smith in Dunedin, but added just six runs in two other innings before injury ruled him out of the final Test. Kallis earns his mark through some valuable bowling bursts, where he claimed some crucial wickets at times.
AB de Villiers 7/10
Runs: 218, HS: 83, Ave: 43.60
Another of South Africa’s top six who has not been consistent in this series, although he did play a match- and series-winning innings in the Hamilton Test. The top-order had folded spectacularly with South Africa 88/6 at one stage, but De Villiers held firm and guided the tail to an eventual 63-run lead. For good measure, he entertained the sparse Basin Reserve crowd with a sparkling 49-ball 68 yesterday.
Jacques Rudolph 8/10
Runs: 169, HS: 105*, Ave: 56.33
The Titans left-hander certainly enjoys batting in the Land of the Long White Cloud and continued that on this tour. He certainly started well enough with an undefeated century in the first Test, and continued to make healthy contributions as the series progressed.
Mark Boucher 6/10
Runs: 108, HS: 46, Ave: 36.00, Catches: 11
South Africa’s veteran wicket-keeper did what was required him of him during this Test series. He took the opportunities that came to him, and scored valuable runs in the middle-order. And with Boucher being in the twilight of his career, that is sufficient to earn him a swansong tour of England later this year.
Vernon Philander 10/10
Wickets: 21, Best bowling: 6/44, Ave: 15.47
The Philander Express steamrolled its way through New Zealand and had the home audiences gasping in awe of his brilliance. He just kept it “simple” and the results “obviously” came his way. Records fell in the path of his destruction, most notably Philander becoming only the second bowler in the history of the game to claim 50 wickets in his first seven Tests.
Dale Steyn 7/10
Wickets: 9, BB: 3/49, Ave: 26.55
Steyn will bowl a lot worse in a series and claim many more wickets. The World No 1 fast bowler bowled with good pace throughout, consistently in the mid-140km/h, and swung the ball appreciably. He can’t really do any better than that, and should have had greater reward for his efforts. Had the fielders hung on to a few chances in Wellington, it could also have been the catalyst Steyn needed.
Morné Morkel 9/10
Wickets: 10, BB: 6/23, Ave: 23.00
The beanpole fast bowler arguably had his most consistent series in a long while, where he hit his lengths superbly and rattled the Kiwis with his venomous bouncer. But until the very last day of the series, he could only look on as Philander claimed all the wickets and glory. To Morkel’s credit, he never sulked, and when the reward came his way in the form of all six second-innings wickets in Wellington yesterday, it was richly deserved. He also scored a valuable 35 not out at No 10 that swung the Hamilton Test, and ultimately the series, in South Africa’s favour.
Imran Tahir 5/10
Wickets: 4, BB: 2/12, Ave: 38.00
Another tough series for the Pakistani-born leg-spinner. Rain denied him the opportunity to bowl last on a wearing Dunedin pitch in the first Test, the second Test in Hamilton lasted only three days, and in Wellington, he was sacrificed when Kallis was a late withdrawal. But nonetheless, Tahir did make progress as a Test bowler as he showed he could fulfil the “holding role” too, and be used as the foil for the faster bowlers to strike from the other end.
JP Duminy 8/10
Runs: 136, HS: 103, Ave: 136.00
If South Africa had forgotten the class of Duminy, the little left-hander certainly reminded the folk back home with an elegant century on his return to the Test team after a two-year absence. It came again on the back of earning a late call-up, similar to his debut Test in Perth three years ago. It was an innings that can only boost his confidence, especially with bigger tours to England and Australia to come later this year. His rating drops a point or two for his unusual butter-fingered catching display.
Marchant de Lange 4/10
Wickets: 1, BB: 1/71, Ave: 151
The Wellington southerly wind has taken in far greater luminaries than the two-Test rookie from Tzaneen, so the 21-year-old’s figures cannot be taken at face value. It was really tough to bowl into the wind at the Basin, which De Lange was forced to do for most of the Test. He is at his most lethal with the wind at his back, and showed this by creating a few opportunities that never went to hand. The fact that he got another opportunity, though, is all that matters in his ongoing learning process. – Cape Times