Mind the Windows writer Kevin Wright looks at the remarkable come-from-behind victory South Africa managed in the recent five-match ODI series against England.
Kevin has rated each of South Africa’s players out of ten – so how do de Villiers and Amla compare? Where does Chris Morris sit after his astounding knock? Is Farhaan Behardien justifying his slot in the team?
The Proteas have had a terrible summer. After the remarkable 3-2 series win the ODIs against India, they were then trounced in the Test series. It was followed by hosting the English in a Test series, where they were again roundly outplayed.
Pace spearhead Dale Steyn has been notably hit-and-miss in his appearances, and the batsmen have been at best inconsistent – or at worst, clueless.
They’ve had drama – a change in Test captain, as well as Chinese whispers over the issue of AB de Villiers’ international future.
The fans from the Republic finally had something to cheer about, however, with the comeback series win in the ODIs over England.
Overall, South Africa did very well to fight and come back from 0-2 down to actually win the series. Not entirely coincidentally, they won the three matches where they had a better fifth bowler option than Behardien and Duminy. It was fairly obvious that the biggest problem with the side was a lack of a proper fifth bowling option. Both Wiese and Morris could do that job. They didn’t play to their full potential but have shown glimpses of what they are capable of.
There are still a few more problems they need to fix. Amla, de Kock and de Villiers have been doing well. A batting order reshuffle may be in order, with Faf du Plessis being a little inconsistent at number three, and Rilee Rossouw batting lower down the order than he is used to.
Until then, the Proteas move onto the T20 series, where they’ll get to experiment before the World T20.
Hashim Amla – 6/10
Amla, like de Villiers, struggled to get going in the first two ODIs. He managed to step up in match three, however, putting up a massive 239 run partnership with Quinton de Kock to chase down 319 quite easily. He went cheaply again in the fourth ODI, a match where South Africa lost wickets continuously – and were still given chances – until Chris Morris blasted 62 to take them over the line. In the final ODI, South Africa were 22/3. Amla stepped up again, working a patient 59 in a match-saving partnership with AB de Villiers.
Farhaan Behardien – 3/10
Things seemed to look up for Fudgie after improved performances in the ODIs in India. However, he didn’t contribute much with the bat in this series and was ineffective with the ball. With Morris and Wiese into the frame now, the team should consider playing a specialist batsman in his place. David Miller could be given another go down the order.
Quinton de Kock – 8/10
The 23 year old star smashed two hundreds in this series, including a big one in the first match, where he could have potentially pulled off a massive chase until rain intervened. He got going again in the third ODI, in a massive partnership with Hashim Amla, ensuring that South Africa were still alive in the series. He didn’t manage to get going in any of the other matches, but he did his part in this series. His form is a massive positive for South Africa going into the World T20 in March in India.
AB de Villiers – 7/10
AB scored 218 runs at 72.66 in the five ODIs. He failed to get runs in the first three matches, but managed to find some form in the last two. A special from him in the first ODI could have helped Quinton de Kock pull off an amazing chase before rain intervened. He played a scratchy innings in the second ODI, where England managed to keep South Africa to just 262. AB showed more signs of finding form during the chase in the fourth ODI before being run-out.
But it was the final ODI where he really got going. He came in at 22/3 and built a solid partnership with Hashim Amla. They put 125 runs together for the fourth wicket. AB carried on after Amla was dismissed to reach his 24th ODI ton in 200 matches. He maintained his record of scoring all his hundrerds at over a run a ball.
De Villiers made some very questionable decisions in the first two ODIs. He obviously wasn’t helped by the fact that all his bowlers went for over 7 an over in the first ODI. Defending a low target in the second ODI, Kyle Abbott managed to get an early sniff to keep England in check. However, not having a fifth bowler hurt South Africa. De Villiers’ mistake was failing to bring on his strike bowlers again before it was too late. He improved a lot in the final three, however. He used Kagiso Rabada brilliantly, and he got crucial breakthroughs to prevent England from building a big partnership.
Faf du Plessis – 4/10
Faf got starts in four out of the five matches in this series. He looked really good for most of these innings, however he kept throwing it away. In the third ODI, he calmly chipped away at the rest of the target, and in the fourth ODI he was bowled by an excellent delivery from Chris Woakes. In the other three innings he played, however, he threw his wicket away after getting off to good starts. More is expected of him as the number three in the side. He has so much potential and has shown what he is capable of in the past. Faf just needs to avoid throwing it away with loose shots and needs to start getting big scores more frequently.
JP Duminy – 2/10
Duminy looked lost in the four ODIs he played. He was ineffective with the ball, and never looked in with the bat. JP Duminy has been struggling in both Tests and ODIs and should probably be dropped from both squads until he can find some form in domestic cricket. Until then, Rilee Rossouw deserves an extended chance in Duminy’s place.
Duminy has been one of South Africa’s best performers in T20Is over the years and it will be crucial for him to get back in the runs before the World T20.
Rilee Rossouw – 1/10
Rossouw had a shocker of a series. In three matches he scored just 34 runs. Like Faf du Plessis, he threw his wicket away a few times. He still deserves an extended chance, however, with Duminy and Behardien struggling as well.
He needs to work on pacing his innings a little better than he did in this series. He has proved himself before, with two hundreds and four fifties, including some good performances at the World Cup. The team management could consider pushing him up the order to number 3, a position that suits him better.
Chris Morris – 6/10
Chris Morris is apparently a bowling all-rounder, and yet it was his ability with the bat that made a difference for South Africa in this series. He was expensive and picked up just four wickets in three matches.
In the fourth ODI, the team needed 72 runs off 76 deliveries with five wickets in hand when he walked in. South Africa then lost two more wickets and the equation was down to 56 required off 53. South Africa have a weak tail, and Morris had to go after everything. He was dropped by Rashid off Topley when he was on 15. From there, he hammered 3 fours and 4 sixes to win the game for South Africa.
The team should look to play him as a permanent number 7. He solves the fifth bowler problem that South Africa had before the last three ODIs. He just needs to find his rhythm with the ball again.
David Wiese – 4/10
Wiese finally got a chance and happened to feature in the three ODIs that South Arica won. He underperformed, but he contributes a lot more than Farhaan Behardien with the ball. He was sent up the order in the third ODI so that he could get some time out in the middle. He smashed a six, as he is expected to do, and got out to a very silly reverse sweep that failed to connect by a mile. In the fourth ODI, the team needed him to try and hold one end while scoring runs to finish off the chase. However, he fell for 20 with a lot more runs still needed to win.
He finally got going in the final ODI, coming in at number 7 and helping AB de Villiers finish off the chase with 41* (32). Wiese has potential as an all-rounder who gets breakthroughs and smashes the ball out of the park. He has not done particularly well with either bat or ball, but is a handy option for limited overs in the future.
Kyle Abbott – 6/10
Kyle Abbott was decent, and did well supporting Rabada with the new ball. He has actually underperformed and can bowl much better than he has so far. Injuries and resting the senior bowlers has ensured he has got regular chances in ODIs. He is a good death bowler as well and will be crucial at the World T20 with Kagiso Rabada.
Marchant de Lange – 2/10
De Lange played in just one match when Kagiso Rabada was rested. He went for 87 runs and picked up two wickets. To be fair, everyone went for runs in that match on a flat pitch. With Morris and Wiese getting regular chances, and with Morkel and Steyn still around, another chance in international matches, unfortunately, looks a bit far off for de Lange.
Morne Morkel – 4/10
Morkel was disappointing in the matches that he played, and he didn’t get the chance to redeem himself as he was rested for the rest of the series. His international summer is basically over, after being left out of the T20 squad. His future looks a little uncertain especially if Dale Steyn is able to recover in time to play all formats after the World T20. The selectors have some big calls to make and will need manage the bowlers and their workloads well. The rise of Rabada, Abbott doing fairly well and the need for an all-rounder as a fifth bowler means they need to find the right balance in each format.
Kagiso Rabada – 8/10
After an excellent Test series, Rabada was rested for the first ODI. Unsurprisingly, South Africa conceded 399 on a flat pitch. For the rest of the series, Rabada was the pick of the bowlers from both teams. He took nine wickets at just under 20 runs a wicket. He also had an impressive economy rate, going at just 4.73 runs an over.
What Rabada did best was get timely breakthroughs for South Africa each time he was brought on for another spell. He also provided great starts with the new ball. Rabada was probably the biggest difference between the two sides.
He has had to lead the attack in both formats in the absence of Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander and has done really well so far.
Imran Tahir – 7/10
Tahir didn’t do much in the first three ODIs. And then, with South Africa still 2-1 down, he stepped up and took 6/99 in the last two matches. He was part of the reason the team managed to fight back and win the series 3-2. He has been excellent for the Proteas in limited overs cricket and will obviously be the key for South Africa at the World T20.