Both Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis have been nominated for several awards. Photo: Andrew Cornaga /
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s top two players over the course of the summer of 2016-17, Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis, go from allies to enemies as the main contenders for the best cricketer in what was an outstanding season for the Proteas.

A trio of Test series victories - two in Australasia - with three one-day international series triumphs thrown in for good measure, owed much to the contribution of the pair.

In Du Plessis’ case he took to the Test captaincy with such panache, that his very good chum, AB de Villiers reckoned he was best suited for the role.

Having led the side to a third consecutive series win in Australia, Du Plessis was accused of cheating and in the immediate aftermath made one of the greatest “up yours” hundreds in the day-night Test in Adelaide.

He has led from the front, matching word with deed, scoring runs while leading intelligently by pushing his players to the limits of their abilities. That Adelaide century was his only one in the Test arena this season, and there were four half-centuries, while his fielding was breathtaking.

He averaged 61.42 in ODIs last summer, scoring three centuries as South Africa won 14 out of 16 ODIs, including a 5-0 win against Australia, when Du Plessis was captain, with De Villiers out injured.

De Kock’s wicket-keeping is a much improved area of his game; he has taken sublime catches, but he has also entrenched himself as one of the main tacticians in the team. The manner in which he stood up to the stumps for South Africa’s spinners speaks volumes for the hard work he put in ahead of last season.

His batting has elevated him to an elite status on the world stage. He scored two centuries each in Tests and ODIs, averaging 47.56 in the five-day format and 50.31 in 16 ODIs.

The timing of many of his innings underscored his importance to South Africa; in Hobart in conditions suitable for seam bowling, he scored a magnificent 104 and his 91 in the second Test in Wellington, was instrumental in the win over New Zealand.

The pair have been nominated for three awards. The awards take place at Kyalami on May 13.

The Mercury