Independent Media cricket writer Zaahier Adams rates the Proteas after a successful tour Down Under.
Faf du Plessis: 9.5
M: 3 Runs: 206 Ave: 51.50 HS: 118* 100s: 1 50s: 0
What more can be said about “Fabulous Faf” that has not already been done? The South Africa tour to Australia of 2016 will forever be remembered as “Faf’s tour” and the Australian public will certainly not forget “Captain Charming” in a hurry.
While the “Lollygate” saga engulfed a nation for a solid 10 days after the Proteas skipper was shown to be shining a ball with the use of a mint in his mouth during the Hobart second Test, it would be a grave injustice if that was all Du Plessis was remembered for. His leadership was outstanding on the field and his media conferences off the field were equally enthralling.
The Aussie media were caught in a right pickle about whether to loath or love Du Plessis for his one liners, especially as his “spending the night” with his Man of the Match bowlers comments after the first two Test had them eating out the palm of his hand. Such is the substance of the man, though, that he backed up all his talk with arguably a career-defining century here in Adelaide when despite the boos of the crowd ringing in his ears, he came out and played the most magnificent innings.
The only thing that never went his way was the cheeky first innings declaration, but even that can be forgiven purely for the nuisance factor it caused in the Australian dressing room. South Africa have a true leader in Du Plessis. Let’s hope the suits realise the obvious and keep him in the job ahead of his good mate AB de Villiers.
Vernon Philander: 9
M: 3 Wkts: 12 Ave: 23.58 Econ: 2.73 BBI: 5/21 Runs: 136 Ave: 27.20 HS: 73 100s: 0 50s: 1
The official Man of the Series was Du Plessis’s ‘go-to-guy’ the moment Dale Steyn clutched his shoulder which brought closure to his series on the second day at the WACA.
Philander thrived on the extra responsibility by immediately claiming four first innings wickets in Perth before showing off all his skills in abundance on a seaming Bellerive Oval the surface.
It was not just a reminder to the Australian batsmen of his unique abilities, but also a strong message to his critics who questioned whether the “Pro” may have lost his mojo. Philander’s batting throughout the series has also been refreshing with a new positive mindset reaping the rewards.
Quinton de Kock: 9
M: 3 Runs: 281 Ave: 56.20 HS: 104 100s: 1 50s: 2 Catches: 11
“Quinny” arrived in Australia with the hang-ups of a poor World Cup here last year. He certainly put that disappointment to bed with a string of spectacular performances in this Test series.
For a maverick talent that he is, it has been amazing to witness the consistency he has brought to his game without losing that trademark flair.
A first innings century at Hobart was arguably the series turner for not many batsmen on either side could cope with the seaming conditions at the Bellerive Oval. The comparisons with Australian legend Adam Gilchrist grew louder as the tour wore on and it was no doubt influenced too by a couple of breathtaking catches De Kock gobbled up during the series.
The one-handed grab diving to his right in Hobart was particularly special.
Kyle Abbott: 9
M: 2 Wkts: 13 Ave: 14.84 Econ: 2.57 BBI: 6/77 Runs: 20 Ave: 6.66 HS: 17 100s: 0 50s: 0
South Africa’s “super sub” just continues to deliver whenever called upon. Just like in the ODI series preceding this tour, Abbott came in for a couple of games and created havoc amongst the Australian batsmen from the outset.
“Jimmy” was simply brilliant in exploiting the conditions in Hobart when the selectors opted for his more subtle skills instead of Morne Morkel’s traditional strengths of pace and bounce.
It certainly proved to a masterstroke in selection with Abbott claiming nine wickets to seal off the series for the Proteas. He was equally good with the pink ball here in Adelaide and deserved more rewards for his efforts. Can expect to hand the neon bib in for a good now and look forward to playing a whole summer of Test cricket at home.
Kagiso Rabada: 9
M: 3 Wkts: 15 Ave: 22.40 Econ: 3.10 BBI: 5/92 Runs: 24 HS: 12.0 Ave: 11
This young man simply raises the bar every time he steps out on to the field for South Africa. Came into the series with plenty of hype surrounding him and the 20-year-old certainly lived up to his billing.
Brilliant at both the WACA and Hobart, he not only troubled the Australian batsmen with his raw pace but also skill factor. Rasping yorkers rifled into the toes of the opposing batsmen has quickly become his signature. An inconsistent performance with the pink ball probably just cost the youngster the Man of the Series award.
A treasure South Africa need to wrap up in cotton wool especially due doubt around Steyn’s long-term future in the national team.
Temba Bavuma: 7.5
M: 3 Runs: 162 Ave: 32.40 HS: 74 100s: 0 50s: 2 Wkts: 1 Ave: 30 Econ: 3.75 BBI: 1/29
A young South African who captured the imagination of the Australian public and quietened the noise about targets within the Proteas team. It was mainly due to his brilliant athleticism in the field, especially that “once-in-a-lifetime” run out of David Warner in the first Test at the WACA. However, Bavuma also grew in stature as batsman in this series with valuable contributions in the middle-order under hugely pressurised conditions. He would dearly have loved to convert at least on his half-centuries into a second Test ton and was hopefully fined in the team changeroom for a poor review request on the third evening here.
JP Duminy: 7
M: 3 Runs: 184 Ave: 36.80 HS: 141 100s: 1 50s: 0 Wkts: 1 Ave: 84 Econ: 3.50 BBI: 1/5
It certainly is no myth that Duminy keeps his best performances for the Baggy Greens. The little left-hander just loves playing in Australia and reminded the folk down here with a sublime century at the WACA to set up the series opening win for the Proteas.
Unfortunately for Duminy he did not kick on from that wonderful start to the series and despite getting going in both innings in Adelaide he never converted in into anything meaningful. It may just cost him his place in the line-up when De Villiers returns to the side on Boxing Day.
Dean Elgar: 6.5
M: 3 Runs: 161 Ave: 32.20 HS: 127 100s: 1 50s: 0
Elgar exorcised some major demons on this tour with a battling century at the WACA in the first Test. It meant that he could finally move past “the pair” he made on debut at the same venue four years ago.
Like Duminy, that was as good at it got for the Titans southpaw on this tour as he struggled to get into any sort of rhythm after that and was especially poor in the pink ball Test here at Adelaide when a double failure put South Africa under pressure early on in both innings.
From the highs of the WACA it was disappointing to end the tour with a duck and the jury remains out whether he can kick on to be that senior figure the Proteas desperately crave for at the top of the order.
Stephen Cook: 6.5
M: 3 Runs: 179 Ave: 35.80 HS: 104 100s: 1 50s: 0
They say the beauty of opening partnership is when they can dovetail off each other. I don’t think it was mean to interpreted literally the way South Africa’s pair did during this series as Cook’s series was in direct contrast to his opening partner Elgar’s. After enduring a horrid run all the way through until Adelaide, Cook found some relief in the shape of the pink ball.
A first innings 40 was followed a battling century that kept the Proteas afloat in the second innings. It may not have been the prettiest, but it should be enough to extend the veteran’s Test career into the home summer.
Keshav Maharaj: 6
M: 2 Wkts: 4 Ave: 40.50 Econ: 2.47 BBI: 3/56 Runs: 58 HS: 41* Ave: 29
A promising debut series for Maharaj despite losing his place in a ‘horse for courses’ selection when Tabraiz Shamsi was preferred for the pink ball Test.
Provided good control for his captain with nagging accuracy in the first two Tests and showed gumption for the fight with breezy innings with the bat at the WACA.
Tabraiz Shamsi: 5
M: 1 Wkts: 2 Ave: 75 Econ: 3.42 BBI: 1/49 Runs: 18 HS: 18* Ave: -
Was not the trumpcard South Africa were hoping he was going to be in the pink ball Test, but was also rather unfortunate that he beat the bat on so many occasions and could just not get the nick to find some sort of momentum.
Learnt from the maiden bowl in Test cricket to show greater discipline in sticking to his stock ball in the second innings.
Hashim Amla: 3
M: 3 Runs: 98 Ave: 19.66 HS: 47 100s: 0 50s: 0
A disappointing series for the Mighty# with all his off-field dramas – the racism incident at Hobart and the standoff at the MCG – creating the only headlines around South Africa’s former Test captain.
There’s no doubt Amla struggled with the accuracy and movement off the seam Australian paceman Josh Hazelwood was able to get, which accounted for his five dismissals to the same bowler. It was the first time ever in Amla’s celebrated career that this has taken place. A big series against Sri Lanka is required to maintain the aura Amla purveys.
Dale Steyn: 3
M: 1 Wkts: 1 Ave: 51 Econ: 4.02 BBI: 1/51 Runs: 4 HS: 4 Ave: 4
The sight of South Africa’s pace spearhead of so many years leaving the WACA in agony will forever be remembered as most likely Steyn’s last moment in Tests on Australian soil.
It was not the way he would have wanted it to end, especially after all “the cutting heads off the snake” talk, but at least he did get to land one killer blow before he left when he removed the dangerous David Warner to precipitate an Australian collapse.
Dane Vilas: 7
One run out
The reserve wicket-keeper epitomised the team culture by giving his all every time he was required to field. The direct hit to run out Callum Ferguson was simply sensational and he will be grateful for all the memories gained on this tour.
Rilee Rossouw: Did not play, no rating
Morne Morkel: Did not play, no rating
Dwaine Pretorius: Did not play, no rating