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Cricket | South Africa

Morne Morkel (L) & Faf du Plessis © Gallo Images

Faf, Morne the stars as we rate Proteas

After a successful tour Down Under, we awarded the Proteas players marks out of 10 for their contributions during the three-test series against Australia.

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Faf du Plessis - 9

Du Plessis grabbed the opportunity that was given to him with both hands after JP Duminy's unfortunate Achilles tendon injury during the first test.

Du Plessis's 78 in his first innings in Adelaide came as the Proteas found themselves in all sorts of trouble, still trailing by 300 runs and seven wickets down. In the midst of this pressure, Du Plessis was composed, and he found the gaps in the field with ease. He looked comfortable from the outset at this level, with a solid defence.

The second innings in Adelaide was even tougher. The visitors, being 77 for four were not given much chance of seeing lunch on the fifth day, let alone seeing out the day for a draw.

Du Plessis resumed the day on 19, and together with AB de Villiers and an injured Jacques Kallis they managed one of the most thrilling draws in the history of the game.

The drawn second test gave the South Africans the mental advantage going into the final test in Perth, but soon found themselves in dire straits, batting first, on 67 for five.

In strolled Du Plessis, and with able assistance from Robin Peterson and Vernon Philander gave their bowlers a total of 225 to bowl at. Du Plessis was unbeaten on 78, becoming the first man ever to score 70-plus in his three test innings.

This fightback gave the Proteas the impetus to skittle the hosts for 163, rack up a mammoth second innings score of 569 and finish the match off on the fourth afternoon, retaining their number one world ranking.

Hashim Amla - 9

Amla can hardly put a foot wrong on the cricket field these days, and his tour to Australia proved his value to the team again. He made the most runs of the South Africans, 377, and scored two centuries.

In Brisbane, he reached the 5 000 test-run mark scoring his 17th test century.

He fell four runs short of a double ton in Perth, but was instrumental in putting the Proteas' lead beyond that of the Australia, therefore ensuring a series win.

Jacques Kallis - 9

Once again, South Africa came to acknowledge that, in Kallis, we have the best all-round cricketer the world has seen.

Scoring a century in Brisbane, Kallis injured his hamstring in the first session in Adelaide, rendering him unable to bowl again in the match, and the rest of the tour.

In considerable pain and discomfort, the all-rounder batted for five-and-a-half hours in the match, and coming in at nine and seven, he put together match-saving partnerships with Faf du Plessis in both innings.


Morne Morkel - 8 

Morkel turned out to be the bowling star of the South African bowling attack, as the tall speedster took 14 wickets in total, at an average of 28.50.

A serial no-baller, Morkel missed out on the wicket of Ed Cowan in Brisbane, but seemed to have worked hard on this issue, and bowled only one more the entire series. He found his length and his control was better than ever. He has learnt to use his height to his advantage, making batsmen feeling awkward even on an unresponsive track as he did in Brisbane.

He peaked in Adelaide, taking 5-146 in Australia's first innings and 3-50 in their second.


AB de Villiers - 8

Having not contributed even a half-century since taking over the gloves from Mark Boucher, De Villiers's dual responsibility came under more intense scrutiny each day.

He started off with a 40 and 29* but never looked that confident, even though he did secure a draw for the visitors in the rain-affected first test in Adelaide.

A pugnacious 33 off 220 deliveries in the second innings in Brisbane, together with Faf du Plessis, was intrumental in helping save that test, but this was never the stage for his usual flamboyant stroke play.

He came into his own in Perth, however, and silenced his critics, with a scintillating 184-ball 169, which all but took the match away from Australia. This, in turn, had a positive effect on his role behind the stumps and where he started the tour being very quiet behind the stumps, he raised his profile, being more vocal, assisting with field-placings and in general being the captain's right-hand man.


Graeme Smith - 7

Smith did not really feature in the first test in Brisbane with the bat, scoring 10 and 23, and was also very subdued as captain - resulting in a lack of a killer instinct in the team, one of their most well-documented flaws. The team did not respond well to pressure, and the batsmen had to fought on the last day to save the match. 


In Adelaide, the captain responded to the big Australian first innings score of 550, with 122. This century kept the hope alive that South Africa will not lose the match, as it is a well-known stat the that Proteas have not lost a test match in which their captain has racked up three figures.

One of the best days in test cricket ensued as the visitors held on for an improbable draw.


On an emotional high, South Africa imposed themselves in a manner not seen before from the Proteas, firstly disseminating the hosts for 169, before amassing a massive 569 in their second innings.

The way Smith and Hashim Amla steered the test in the evening session on the second day was even more remarkable as they changed the course of the match with a batting performance that appeared so effortlessly quick, giving Australia no hope of getting back in the match. Smith blitzed a 100-ball 84, and together with Amla the pair added 178 runs in just over 25 overs at more than seven runs to the over.

This partnership effectively secured the test mace for South Africa and they rounded off their dominance with a 309-win on the fourth day.


Dale Steyn - 7 

Dale Steyn was surprisingly subdued in the first two tests, with speed well below his normal 140-odds. Picking up 1-129 in Brisbane, he followed that with four wickets in Adelaide, 

However, bolstered by the draw in Adelaide, he found his form and speed in Perth, he produced 4-40 in Australia's first innings, ensuring a healthy lead for the visitors. This spell included one of the best deliveries this year, when he bowled to Michael Clarke, and a good length ball squared him up before it nipped away to get the outside edge of the Australian captain, leaving the hosts on 45 for six.


Alviro Petersen - 6 

Not one of his more memorable tours, Petersen contributed 200 runs at an average of 33, including two half-centuries. With Smith, they put on 138 for the opening partnership in the first test, but the pair never managed to cross the 50-run mark again.

One moment that will stand out for Petersen, is his catch on the boundary in Perth to dismiss John Hasting to round off the Australians' first innings for 169 and secure a 62-run lead.

Robin Peterson - 6 

Getting his opportunity in Perth at the expense of a disappointing Imran Tahir, Petersen delivered without being spectacular. He grabbed three wickets in each innings, firstly mopping up the tail - something Tahir failed to do - and then getting stuck in the middle order with the wickets of Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Matthew Wade. 

His claim to fame for this tour will be the wicket of Ponting in the Australian's final ever test innings.

Vernon Philander - 5 

Philander had a below-par tour, but it was to expected since no one could continue taking wickets at the pace that he was. The four wickets he snagged came in the third test in Perth, but they were the big scalps of three potential match-changing batsmen, namely Shane Watson and Ricky Ponting in Australia's first innings, and David Warner and Mitchell Johnson in the second.

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Rory Kleinveldt - 5

After being taken to the cleaners in the first test, Kleinveldt got a lifeline for the second, as Philander was sidelined with a bad back on the morning of the test.

Credit has to be given to him at the way he came back in Adelaide, taking the top three wickets in Australia's second innings with good bounce and movement. 

However, with Philander being fit again, Kleinveldt did not play in the final test.

One thing Kleinveldt will be very conscious of, is the amount of no-balls he bowled throughout the series - 19 in three innings, just not good enough for the highest level of professional cricket.

Jacques Rudolph - 3 

A thoroughly forgettable tour, Rudolph never translated his domestic form and obvious talent into the big runs. He didn't contribute when it mattered, and with only 74 runs in four innings, and dropped from the final XI in Perth, it is entirely possible that we have seen the last of Rudolph in Protea colours.

Dean Elgar - 1 

Making his debut in the third test in Perth when Jacques Rudolph was dropped, Elgar managed a pair, being worked over by Mitchell Johnson on both occasions with a mixture of short and full deliveries to which the Protea had no answer.

Imran Tahir - 0

It is seldom that one cannot find any redeeming passage of play, but Imran Tahir's one-match appearance was rank poor. He took no wickets, conceded 260 runs at over seven runs to the over, and bowled an inexcusable seven no-balls, missing out on a wicket with one of these.


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