Sport / Cricket

Sport Staff
4 minute read
16 Jan 2017
11:52 am

Sublime Rabada, poor Bavuma: We rate the Proteas’ Test series

Sport Staff

Faf du Plessis said the Proteas dominated '95% of the time' against Sri Lanka. Our report card backs him up.

On your bike, buddy. Kagiso Rabada was ruthless against the Sri Lankans. Photo: Marco Longari/AFP.

Faf du Plessis, the Proteas skipper, didn’t beat around the bush when he gave his assessment of his side’s whitewash of Sri Lanka.

He noted that they “dominated 95% of the time”, exemplified by the winning margins increasing in each of the three Tests.

Also read: Russell Domingo: Proteas can’t measure progress via rankings

Predictably, South Africa’s report card for the series looks healthy.

9 – Vernon Philander: 

The stocky seamer is back to his best.

His accurate lines continued to confound the opposition batters as they simply didn’t have the technique or patience to keep their batting tighter against him.

One can point to favourable local conditions but that’s not quite the case.

In Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, Philander needed to adapt on surfaces that didn’t encourage his seam movement all that much and did so perfectly.

8.5 – Kagiso Rabada:

There was a stream of thought that the 21-year-old quick would enjoy being given a more care-free role in the attack.

Instead, it seems Rabada bowls better when he’s actually asked to be more of a leader.

He probably won’t bring down his economy anytime soon but who cares when he snaps up 19 victims – the most in the series.

An absolute gem.

8 – Dean Elgar: 

At face value it doesn’t seem that way, but it really wasn’t easy batting in this series.

Given that he had to face the new ball, the gritty left-hander deserved the plaudits he got for being the leading run-scorer in the series (308).

Elgar’s consistency is also encouraging as he and his partner Stephen Cook start to find each other.

8 – Quinton de Kock:

The comparison with Aussie great Adam Gilchrist really isn’t far-fetched anymore.

De Kock continued to prop up the Proteas’ lower-order efforts with his attacking style of play, a weapon that really takes the wind out of an opponent’s sails.

Even his keeping is improving at such a rate that he’s now catching like “Gilly” too.

7.5 – JP Duminy:

The elegant left-hander’s consistency can still improve but there’s no denying that he’s playing with far more freedom nowadays.

An interesting about his performances was that his best innings came when other struggled to tame favourable bowling conditions.

In Port Elizabeth, he top-scored in a tough first innings and reserved his best with a masterful 155 at the Wanderers  – his finest innings to date.

7 – Faf du Plessis:

South Africa’s new full-time captain is a master tactician and brilliantly in control of his emotions without being a robot.

He chipped in with a few useful scores and fielded brilliantly, especially at the Wanderers with that magnificent one-handed catch.

It’s remarkable how quickly this team feels like “Faf du Plessis’ team”.

6.5 – Stephen Cook:

There’ll always be doubts about his technique but the great thing about 34-year-old openers is that they know the limitations of those techniques inside out.

And that means Cook will probably know most of the time how to get around that.

6.5 – Keshav Maharaj:

It’s an unforgiving and unrewarding task to be the Proteas’ frontline spinner in Test cricket.

You’re never in the spotlight and probably won’t take many wickets.

But that suits the left-arm tweaker perfectly.

In fact, seven wickets and some lower-order runs represents big success.

His place looks secure.

6 – Duanne Olivier:

Handed an unexpected debut at the Wanderers, the 24-year-old rookie looked like an out-and-out fast bowler in taking five wickets.

Yet that’s just one of his skills.

Olivier is actually a versatile bowler able to perform with the old ball and adapt to dead surfaces.

It won’t be long until that becomes evident … hopefully.

6 – Wayne Parnell:

You can’t argue with six wickets in a Test.

Parnell clearly hasn’t lost his knack for taking wickets and also looks a far more rounded batter nowadays too.

But he still leaks runs too easily.

5 – Hashim Amla:

Capped his 100th Test perfectly with an epic century but overall it was a lacklustre series by his standards.

Funnily enough, his stats were never truly awful.

4 – Kyle Abbott:

He stole the show for all the wrong reasons after announcing his international retirement to honour a Kolpak contract.

Steady as always in Port Elizabeth, in hindsight it really seemed that his decision weighed on him at Newlands as his Test career ended on a flat note.

1 – Temba Bavuma:

Horrible series for the diminutive fighter as 21 runs at an average of 4.2 attests.

It was disappointing that a few of his dismissals were probably preventable and he will need to tighten up.

One good thing is that he now has some time in domestic cricket to regain his touch.

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