CAPE TOWN – The Proteas rewrote the record books with their 3-1 home series victory over Australia, with Faf du Plessis’ team being the first to achieve this distinction since readmission.
Although off-field controversies grabbed the headlines, the Proteas maintained their focus on the field and a host of players put in special performances.
Zaahier Adams submits his Test series report card.
AB de Villiers: 10
Matches: 4 Runs: 427 Average: 71.26 Highest Score: 126* Hundreds: 1 Fifties: 4
If this is indeed to be the great man’s final major Test series, he certainly left his signature on it in indelible ink. De Villiers was a class above any batsman - perhaps apart from Aiden Markram - in terms of the ease with which he scored his runs. His century in the second Test at St George’s Park turned the tide of the series, while there were also some cracking shots, none more so than the square-cut for six to get off the mark at Newlands.
Aiden Markram: 9.5
M: 4 Runs: 480 Ave: 60.00 HS: 152 Hundreds: 2 Fifties: 1
A coming-of-age series for the young Titan. Long tipped for a stellar international career, Markram rubber-stamped his promise with two delightful centuries. The one was to ignite the Proteas fire in a losing cause, while the other represented the cherries on a glorious cake. The way he battled in Durban in the first Test showed his class, and his ability to stand up in the fiercest of battles.
Kagiso Rabada: 9
M: 4 Wickets: 23 BBI: 6/54 BBM: 11/150 Ave: 19.26 5w: 2 10w: 1 Runs: 74 Ave: 12.33 HS: 29
Although just 22 years old, the Proteas fast bowling spearhead is already a colossal figure in the world game. The No 1 ICC ranking gives credence to his status, but it is the astounding performances that he puts in on a regular basis that has everyone purring. Rabada’s five wickets in just 18 balls in the second Test at St George’s Park breathed life into the Proteas and they never looked back from that moment on. Only special players with special talents seize the moment so magnificently. The only reason Rabada’s does not get full marks is for the shoulder brush with Steve Smith for if his initial two-match suspension had not been overturned, the final script would have read a lot differently.
Vernon Philander: 9
M: 4 Wickets: 16 BBI: 6/21 BBM: 9/51 Ave: 16.81 5w: 1 Runs: 155 Ave: 31 HS: 52* Fifties: 1
South Africa are blessed to have two such wonderful talents opening the bowling for them. For all Rabada’s pace and hostility, Philander matches it on the other end with skill and craft. Even though the pitches did not particularly suit Philander’s type of bowling, “The Surgeon” continued to nip and tuck away and was eventually rewarded on the final day at the Wanderers when he cut open the Aussies one final time.
Dean Elgar: 9
M: 4 Runs: 333 Ave: 47.47 HS: 141* Hundreds: 1 Fifties: 2 Wickets: 1 BBI: 1/10 Ave: 16
South Africa’s “Mr Consistency” is the epitome of #ProteaFire: The one who fights courageously, and who battles through the toughest of challenges. This attitude has placed him alongside West Indies legend Desmond Haynes - they are the only batsmen in history to carry their bats throughout the innings three times. His undefeated 141 at Newlands earned him this place in the world game and his value to the Proteas can never be underestimated.
Faf du Plessis: 8
M: 4 Runs: 175 Ave: 25 HS: 120 Hundreds: 1 Fifties: 0
“Captain Fantastic” endured a miserable run of form before a timely century in the final Test at the Wanderers, but Du Plessis’s contribution goes way beyond just the runs he scores. He is the heart and soul of the Proteas and now has the distinction of being the first captain to lead South Africa to a Test series victory over their arch-enemy both home and away. His inspirational leadership kept the team together amid a flurry of controversies during the series, which boosts his rating.
Morné Morkel: 8
M: 3 Wickets: 15 BBI: 5/23 BBM: 9/110 Ave: 19.60 5w: 1
The perfect send-off for one of the nicest guys in cricket. Having made the decision to retire at the beginning of the series, it appeared as if the emotion was going to be too much for Morkel after a disappointing first Test at Kingsmead, which saw him dropped. But after Lungi Ngidi injured his toe ahead of the third Test at Newlands, Morkel came storming back to claim his “career highlight” and best figures ever. The gentle giant signed off at the Wanderers in triumphant fashion despite suffering from an injury. Cheers Big Fella!
Keshav Maharaj: 7
M: 4 Wickets: 17 BBI: 5/123 BBM: 9/225 Ave: 33.64 5w: 1 Runs: 83 Ave: 13.83 HS: 45 Hundreds: 0 Fifties: 0
The unsung hero of the SA attack, Maharaj continues to toil away in the shadow of his more illustrious fast bowling teammates. But when conditions are suitable, like at his home ground, he makes the most of it by collecting nine wickets in the Test. Completely out-bowled his spin counterpart Nathan Lyon.
Temba Bavuma: 6.5
M: 2 Runs: 136 Ave: 68.0 HS: 95* Hundreds: 0 Fifties: 1
A late addition to the series after a hand injury, Bavuma looked woefully out form in his Newlands comeback after not having played any form of cricket since the beginning of January. The diminutive batsman, though, hit form at the Wanderers and was incredibly unlucky not to celebrate his much-awaited second Test century after Morne Morkel’s dismissal left him stranded on 95 not out.
Quinton de Kock: 6
M: 4 Runs: 223 Ave: 31.85 HS: 83 Hundreds: 0 Fifties: 2 Catches: 11 Stumpings: 1
After a miserable summer, during which De Kock’s place was even starting to be questioned due to the emergence of Heinrich Klaasen, South Africa’s wicket-keeper stood up when it mattered with a couple of vital half-centuries. His keeping was also of the usual high standard. However, his involvement with David Warner on the Kingsmead staircase will forever be on his record.
Lungi Ngidi: 6
M: 1 Wickets: 5 BBI: 3/51 BBM: 5/75 Ave: 15 5w: 0
The strongly-built fast bowler gave South Africans a glimpse of the future after replacing Morkel at St George’s Park.
Will definitely be a fixture in the team now that Morkel has hung up his size 13s.
Hashim Amla: 5
M: 4 Runs: 196 Ave: 24.50 HS: 56 Fifties: 1
There is real concern that we have seen the best of Amla, but the Mighty# is determined to contribute to the team’s cause.
He may be not pile on the runs as before, but he is still the perfect foil at No 3 who allows the likes of De Villiers to play with great freedom when they arrive at the crease.
Theunis de Bruyn: 3
M: 2 Runs: 58 Ave: 19.33 HS: 36
Another series of missed opportunities for the Knights captain after playing in the first two Tests in the absence of the injured Bavuma. Showed good application for his 36 at Kingsmead, but will need to make better use of his chances.