How the Proteas fared in the IPL and what it means for the T20 World Cup

Heinrich Klassen, Tristan Stubbs (pictured), David Miller, Kagiso Rabada and Gerald Coetzee were the standout Proteas in the IPL, while the rest were either poor or had an average or poor tournament. Picture: Money Sharma/AFP

Heinrich Klassen, Tristan Stubbs (pictured), David Miller, Kagiso Rabada and Gerald Coetzee were the standout Proteas in the IPL, while the rest were either poor or had an average or poor tournament. Picture: Money Sharma/AFP

Published May 26, 2024


As the Indian Premier League (IPL) draws to a conclusion on Sunday, it’s been a mixed bag for the Proteas players involved.

Heinrich Klassen, Tristan Stubbs, David Miller, Kagiso Rabada and Gerald Coetzee were the top-performing Proteas in the IPL, while the rest were either poor or had an average or poor tournament.

Klaasen has continued to perform at the highest level, as he is widely regarded as one of the best T20 batsmen in the world at the moment. His ability to build an innings quickly for the Sunrisers Hyderabad, before unleashing the big strokes is extremely valuable.

Before Friday’s qualifier for the IPL final, the 32-year-old Klaasen had scored 413 runs from 14 matches with a best score of 80 not out. His three half-centuries have seen Klaasen return an impressive average of 41 coming at an incredible strike-rate of 180.

— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) May 14, 2024

Stubbs stands out

Stubbs, meanwhile, made a phenomenal contribution for Delhi Capitals (DC) in his first full season in the IPL. With a best score of 71 unbeaten, Stubbs scored three 50s for an average of 54 - due in large part to his six not out scores. His strike-rate was even higher than Klaasen’s at 190.

As one of the keys to success in batting in T20 cricket, innovative strokeplay is always an asset for a player. In this aspect, Stubbs oozes natural ability. The 23-year-old puts his free-flowing scoring ability down to previous experience playing hockey.

“I got the basics from hockey. I practise them a lot. The way I turn my hands for the spin and seem is like I’m holding a hockey stick. Both feet getting down low, I think definitely come from there [hockey],” said Stubbs earlier in the season.

As for Miller, he was one of the shining stars in an under-performing Gujarat Titans side which finished the season third from bottom on the table.

The finisher ended unbeaten on three occasions while scoring 210 runs at an average of 35. Though he scored just one 50, his strike-rate of 151 showed he could have used a bit more help from his teammates. That said, it was by no means the 34-year-old’s best season in the IPL.

Miller’s best season in the IPL was in 2022 when he bludgeoned 481 runs at an average of 68. Interestingly, his strike-rate of 142 was below what he achieved this year’s edition.

In an IPL season which heavily favoured the batsmen, Rabada was a steady performer with the ball and one of only two Proteas bowlers to fare well. Rabada played 11 matches for the Punjab Kings. Rabada claimed 11 wickets at an average of 33 with best bowling figures of 2/18 across those matches.

With Punjab Kings out of the running for the playoffs, Rabada was released early from the team to return to South Africa where he could focus on his recovery from a ‘lower limb soft tissue infection’.

— MaHi (@cricrazyNandu) May 1, 2024

No Rabada worries for T20 World Cup

Cricket SA were quick to point out that his participation in the upcoming T20 World Cup would not be affected.

Coetzee, though expensive going at over 10 runs per over, claimed 13 scalps for a Mumbai Indians side which finished bottom of the table. His debut season in the IPL saw him return an average of 26 with best bowling figures of 4/34.

Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram, in contrast, were not at their best this season.

De Kock was inconsistent for the Lucknow Super Giants (LSG). The gifted stroke-player managed just 250 runs at the top of the innings for LSG at an average of 22 and a strike-rate of 134. Though he made three half-centuries, he ended his 11 matches in the IPL with five scores in a row of 12 or under. His average is his worst since the 2014 IPL and the 250 runs he scored is also his lowest tally from eight matches or more in a season since 2018.

As for Markram, his is an interesting case.

The Proteas skipper hasn’t had a bad IPL, but it hasn’t been great either. With just one half century in nine matches, Markram has not played a game for Sunrisers since April 28.

The top order batsman has looked on as Proteas teammate Klaasen has played five matches this month.

Without any news of an injury, it seems Sunrisers have dropped Markram.

An IPL to forget

With Rabada and Coetzee effectively the only Proteas bowlers to have a decent IPL, Anrich Nortje, Marco Jansen and Keshav Maharaj all had a tournament to forget for various reasons.

The fiery fast bowler Nortje came into the IPL after recovering from a back injury, to play for DC. His economy rate this season has been over 13, while he has claimed just seven wickets in six matches. Clearly still trying to shake off the rust, Nortje was not picked for DC since April 24.

Proteas all-rounder Jansen has failed to make headlines having played just three matches for Sunrisers. With 18 runs total and one wicket across those three matches he played, it’s no wonder that Sunrisers showed little confidence in the 24-year-old left-arm quick.

The Proteas spinner Maharaj has played even fewer matches than Jansen, with just two appearances for Rajasthan Royals. With returns of 0/16 on April 10 and 2/23 on April 13, Maharaj’s services have not been required since.

Overall, there were some encouraging performances from the Proteas in the IPL, especially from Klaasen, Stubbs, Rabada and Coetzee.

However, on the bowling front there may indeed be some cause for concern if Rabada and Coetzee are expensive opening the innings.

With the T20 World Cup to be held from June 1 to 29 in the USA and the Caribbean, it remains to be seen what kind of pitches will be used and what roles spinners like Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi will play for the Proteas.

The only thing in the Proteas favour, perhaps, is that they certainly won’t be considered one of the favourites and underestimating South African sports teams is always a perilous endeavour.

SA World Cup squad: Aiden Markram (captain), Ottniel Baartman, Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Ryan Rickelton, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs.

Travelling reserves: Nandre Burger, Lungi Ngidi.

* Michael Shermain is a digital journalist at IOL Sport.

** The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of IOL or Independent Media.