In a Test series dominated by bowlers on helpful pitches, it’s not necessarily just the team with the most potent attack that will prevail.
The influence of one or two performing batsmen is arguably an even bigger factor.
It’s the reason why former Proteas coach and current Pakistan mentor, Mickey Arthur, believes Quinton de Kock ran Duanne Olivier closer for the Man-of-the-Series than many would think.
“To be honest, both teams’ batting units battled for significant periods,” he said on Monday after South Africa galloped to a 3-0 series win.
“The difference was Quinton batting at No 7. He played some unbelievable match-winning innings. There was the one at Centurion and now the century here in a difficult situation. That was decisive in this series.”
Indeed, the attacking left-hander ended the leading scorer on both sides with 251 runs at an average of almost 63.
More importantly, De Kock combined his natural ability to score quickly with some superb judgement.
The 129 he scored here was a classic example of a responsible, but rapid innings.
“Quinny’s been in awesome form this summer,” said Proteas stand-in skipper Dean Elgar.
“There have been a few technical things he’s been working on, but don’t ask me what they have been! It’s good to see that the hard work has paid off for him. He’s also done some work away from batting, especially fitness wise. It’s been going well for him.”
However, Proteas coach Ottis Gibson – former fast bowler that he is – was reluctant to underestimate the influence of Olivier, who took a staggering 24 wickets in the series.
“Duanne was the difference with all the wickets he took,” he said.
“But Quinny’s been excellent, he’s a fantastic player for us. Then again, a guy like Hashim Amla kept our batting together and allowed Quinton to score his runs. It’s always difficult to assess what makes the difference in a match or series.”