Home Sport Cricket Picking the Proteas best ODI XI: Donald in, but ‘Lopsy’ trumps Steyn...

Picking the Proteas best ODI XI: Donald in, but ‘Lopsy’ trumps Steyn and Morkel


Zaahier Adams springs a surprise in the selection of his two best seamers, while the spinner is an automatic choice to complete our Proteas’ Best ODI XI.

THE Proteas have been the envy of world cricket for the longest time for its ability to produce high-quality fast bowlers. There has been no respite even in ODIs with the conveyor belt almost running non-stop since Allan Donald and his zinc war-paint terrified the Indian batsmen in South Africa’s first ODI at the cauldron of Eden Gardens in 1991.

Unfortunately the Proteas were not as blessed initially in regards to slow bowling, with the side often opting for an “all-round” package such as Nicky Bojé and Derek Crookes. However, this all changed when Durban’s Sumayya Dildar caught the attention of an excitable young Pakistani in 1998 …

Today Zaahier Adams springs a surprise in his selection of his two best seamers, while the spinner is an automatic choice to complete Independent Media’s “Best ODI XI”.

Here is the team we have thus far:

The Proteas Series: Picking the best ODI XI – the openers

The Proteas’ best ODI XI: A flexible middle order and a maverick at No 3

Picking the Proteas best ODI XI: The all-rounders


Allan Donald

An ICC Hall of Fame inductee, Donald virtually carried the Proteas bowling attack on his shoulders in the 1990s. Although sometimes erratic with the new white ball in his early years, Donald was granted full licence to attack for he was lightning quick, hence the nickname “White Lightning”.

The true legends also know how to transform their game once the pace slows down, with Donald reverting to a shorter run-up later on his career that provided greater control. He played 164 ODIs, and claimed 272 wickets at an average of 21.78.


Lonwabo Tsotsobe

Really? Surely, not a match-fixer! 

From the moment he claimed four wickets on his ODI debut at the WACA in Perth in 2009, the left-arm swing-bowler was outstanding for the Proteas. Many forget Tsotsobe was ranked the No 1 ODI bowler in the world in 2012 for his ability to strike regularly with the new-ball.

He claimed 94 wickets in 61 ODIs at an average of 24.96 – that’s superior to Dale Steyn and Morné Morkel. It’s just a pity that the off-field lights were always too bright for this Eastern Cape talent.



Imran Tahir

Unquestionably the best white-ball spinner the Proteas’ have ever had. Tahir has transformed South Africa’s approach to slow bowlers in its entirety, with the Lahore-born leg-break bowler leaving a lasting legacy since he first grabbed the Proteas crest on his chest before going off on what-would-become a trademark celebration run at the 2011 World Cup.

The much-loved Tahir retired after last year’s World Cup with 173 wickets, which included a national record of 7/45 against the West Indies in 2016.

Notable omissions:

Morné Morkel: 

Due to the steep bounce he generated, theseamer’s awkward length was difficult to get away for many years in white-ball cricket.

Charl Langeveldt: 

Arguably SA’s best death-bowler with a famous last over hat-trick in the West Indies proof of his ability to remain ice-cool under pressure.

Fanie de Villiers:

 “Vinnige Fanie” was the foil to Donald’s pace and is also best remembered for his memorable final over to Allan Border’s Australians at the Wanderers in 1994.

Best Proteas ODI XI: 

Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Jonty Rhodes, Shaun Pollock (capt), Lance Klusener, Allan Donald, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Imran Tahir.

12th man:

 Faf du Plessis