It was the dawn of new era for the Proteas in Twenty20 cricket at the start of the series against New Zealand. The national selectors placed their faith in host of debutants, some young and some old, to find that correct balance between flair, energy and spirit in the team.
The Proteas T20 side also had a fresh-faced captain in Faf du Plessis and coach Russell Domingo, so there was a lot expectation leading up to the three-match series. We rate who were the hits and flops after the Proteas clinched the series 2-1 at St George’s Park on Wednesday.
Henry Davids 8
The former Capetonian had been waiting a long time for a chance at the highest level and was certainly ready when it came his way. Davids, 32, showed he is in complete control of his game at present with contributions in all three games, which included half-centuries in the last two. South Africa’s Player of the Series, Davids added a great degree of dynamism at the top of the order, which the Proteas have been lacking in recent times in T20 cricket.
Richard Levi 2
It remains lean times for the Cape Cobras basher at international level. It was hoped that Levi was over his World T20 hangover after topping the run-scoring charts in the domestic 1-Day Cup prior to this series. But it was not to be as Levi failed in Durban and East London before being dropped for the series finale in Port Elizabeth.
Faf du Plessis (capt) 8
The man with the Midas touch in South African cricket at present, Du Plessis’s star just continues to rise. The stand-in skipper was superb during this series, from a personal and team point of view. He made mistakes too, like in East London on that last ball, but showed good composure to come back and marshal his troops effectively in the series decider. He had a good series with the bat too, which is always important for a new captain, finishing the series as the team’s second-highest run-scorer.
Quinton de Kock 5
After all the hype surrounding De Kock’s selection for this series, the 20-year-old delivered exactly what was expected from him. His undoubted talent was on full display in Durban where he stroked some wonderful boundaries before the slow conditions in PE proved to be his undoing. He was neat without being spectacular behind the stumps.
David Miller 6
There have been limited opportunities for the KwaZulu-Natal left-hander during the series, but those that came his way were grabbed with both hands. Miller looks much more comfortable at this level now than when he first had a taste of international cricket two years ago. He showed this with delightful cameos at Buffalo Park and St George’s Park.
Farhaan Behardien 7
Another player who just continues to grow in stature at this level. Despite only making his T20 international debut this year, Behardien now looks like a seasoned veteran in the team. He also came good when it mattered in PE, smashing the ball to all parts in the last five overs to ensure South Africa went from a promising to an imposing total.
Justin Ontong 7
After being surprisingly left out of the squad, only to return when captain AB de Villiers withdrew from the series due to fatigue, Ontong certainly had a point to prove to the national selectors. He did this emphatically in PE when he struck a rapid-fire 48 to not only provide the Proteas with momentum, but also rescue them from a tricky situation following the loss of two early wickets.
Robin Peterson 6
One of the more experienced heads in this young Proteas team, Peterson started the series in superb fashion at Kingsmead with the most economical figures – 2/8 – by a South African bowler in T20Is. The lights went out a bit at Buffalo Park – literally and figuratively – for Peterson when he dropped a couple of catches which had a big influence on the Proteas’ reversal on the night. However, the veteran left-arm spinner returned with aplomb in his home city when he bowled a steady line and claimed a great catch in the deep.
Chris Morris 7
The lanky Lions fast bowler delivered on the big stage in his first and only game in Durban with a hostile spell that troubled the Kiwis all night. Not afraid to dig the ball in short, Morris gained good reward for an energy-charged effort. Injury, however, curtailed his progress further.
Ryan McLaren 8
South Africa’s standout bowler of the series, McLaren was the experienced hand in the Proteas side in the absence of either Dale Steyn or Morné Morkel. A bit wayward in the second game in East London when successive leg-byes that went down to the boundary hurt South Africa deeply, he redeemed himself in PE with strikes up front and at the death to peg back any Kiwi resistance.
Dale Steyn 7
The “Phalabora Express” made just one cameo appearance in this series to manage his workload ahead of the Test series. He was his usual effective self, troubling all the Kiwis with his pace and swing.
Morné Morkel 3
A poor series for the beanpole fast bowler. Morkel played the last two games in Steyn’s absence and simply never found his lengths or line. South Africa’s most expensive bowler, conceding over 8 runs to the over. A great diving catch at PE was his best contribution.
Rory Kleinveldt 7.5
It seems always to swing in roundabouts for the Cape Cobras paceman. Man of the Match in the opener in Durban for a superb bowling effort, only to concede the winning runs off his final ball in the next match when he missed his yorker length under pressure. Kleinveldt, though, is constantly improving at this level and should now be an automatic selection in this T20 team.
Aaron Phangiso 7
A wet ball and a bundle of nerves in East London combined to severely impact the Highveld Lions’ spinner’s performance on debut in the second game of the series. But in friendlier conditions in PE, Phangiso bowled South Africa to victory with a virtuoso performance when he claimed both Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum.