Maharaj ranks the best
Dean Elgar (6 out of 10)
Steady with the bat, as is usually the case, and his second innings hundred at The Oval, although in vain, was an outstanding display of temperament and determination. Not the prettiest batsman, but then there are others who are supposed to perform that task. Fielding was poor throughout – he is not fit for the slips, especially when he’s got two damaged fingers.
Runs 291; Average 36.37; Highest Score 136
Heino Kuhn (1)
Sadly for Kuhn, it was just not his series. The reasons for selecting him were entirely justified – good form at home for the Titans, which he continued to display for the SA A side when they toured England in May. Just too jumpy at the crease and the precision of Anderson and Broad exploited those technical shortcomings. One good innings came at Trent Bridge, when he was struck on the hand and head but survived an entire session. Ended the series with a severely injured left leg.
Runs 113; Ave 14.12; HS 34
Hashim Amla (4)
In this Proteas side, more is demanded of Amla as its most experienced player. He is not delivering enough in that regard, despite a series in which he averaged over 40. His reaction time may be just a fraction slower than 2012, when he had that dream series here, and in this series he got out to all kinds of bowling; left-arm spin at Lord’s, the bouncer at Trent Bridge, was worked over outside off-stump at The Oval, was caught down leg side in the fourth Test, and missed a quick off-break in the final innings. He remains a hugely valuable part of the team, but runs matter and he needs to score more of them.
Runs 329; Ave 41.12; HS 87
JP Duminy (1)
He looked lost at Lord’s, and it was sad. As a senior player and among the most talented SA has ever produced, he was given an extended run in the team, but never justified the support he was getting from selectors and the coaching staff. Unless he can find confidence, form and consistency with the bat domestically – if he stills wants to in the first-class format – he won’t be back in the Test side again.
Runs 17; Ave 8.50; HS 15
Temba Bavuma (5)
Had to perform a couple of rescue acts again in the two Tests in London, which was another illustration of his fighting qualities and how his technique does not bend under pressure. Tight on defence, his game plan was clear – make the bowlers bowl at him and be patient. By the end of the series, he was elevated to No4, a position he wants to play. The onus is now on him to make the necessary changes to ensure he is a success in that spot – and that includes finding how to transfer pressure on to bowlers by scoring quicker.
Runs 257; Ave 32.12; HS 59
Faf du Plessis (4)
Came to the rescue at Nottingham with some clear thinking and bold tactical moves. Then seemed to fall back, appearing too overwhelmed by the depth and options that England threw at his team. Terrible decision-making with the bat in both innings’s of the third Test, was followed by more bad tactics against Bairstow in England’s first innings at Old Trafford. Has resisted calls to move one spot up in the order, but as a senior batsmen, he, like Amla, owes the team much bigger runs.
Runs 171; Ave 28.50; HS 63
Quinton de Kock (4)
A couple of good half-centuries, but De Kock wasn’t able to play the forceful role with the bat on enough occasions that his side required. England were much tighter with their lines to him, cramping him outside off-stump and he wasn’t able to get on top of them. Continues to struggle against off-spin. Took some wonderful catches throughout the series, but also made some terrible mistakes, with his dropping of Bairstow in the fourth Test a match changer.
Runs 185; Ave 23.12; HS 68; Catches 17; Stumpings 2
Theunis de Bruyn (3)
Played very well under pressure in the first innings at Lord’s where he shared a partnership of 99 with Bavuma. Technique and temperament look solid and has a first-class record that is deserving of an extended run at the highest level. Whether he gets that will be determined by the make-up of the team in the future.
Runs 60; Ave 15; HS 48
Vernon Philander (5)
A deserved man-of-the-match award at Trent Bridge where he showed why he is arguably the most valuable player in the side. He has to get fitter, though, for it’s his fitness that will determine whether South Africa play six frontline batsmen or seven – they seem to want to do the latter. Conditions suited him in this series and he thrived destroying Jennings, but he needs to be on the field more and Du Plessis has placed the onus on him to work on his fitness so that he doesn’t just star in two games of a series, but shines throughout.
Runs 177; Batting Ave 44.25; HS 54; Wickets 10; Ave 23.40;
Best Bowling (inns) 3/24
Keshav Maharaj (7)
Against New Zealand a year ago Maharaj wasn’t even in the starting team – now it’s very hard to think about him not being there. A valuable member of the team, he took lessons from his first innings beating at Lord’s, applied them in the second, bowled beautifully at Trent Bridge and bravely at Old Trafford, where he was asked to do more than usually demanded on the first day of a spinner. Offers control but also a wicket-taking threat because he gets such good drift and his changes in pace are very clever. Vital part of this SA team
Wickets 17; Ave 30.35; BB 4/85
Kagiso Rabada (4)
A series of fits and starts for Rabada, that started with a suspension after Lord’s and the long lay-off didn’t help his rhythm. Bowled some memorable balls – the yorkers to Malan and Stokes – but failed to make an impression on this series. He is still just 22, and very much learning his craft, but he sets high standards for himself and will be disappointed with his overall performance in the three Tests he played.
Wickets 16; Ave 28.43; BB 4/91
Duanne Olivier (4)
Didn’t look like a Test bowler at Trent Bridge where his lines were too wide and his lengths too short. Took his opportunity very well in the last Test, particularly with the older ball, getting it to move late and with his lengths fuller and lines straighter, he proved to be a dangerous operator. His three wickets in England’s second innings were deserved, including those of Root and Stokes. A good back-up option in the squad.
Wickets 7; Ave 27.57; BB 3/38
Chris Morris (4)
A bad first spell in the second Test was quickly corrected after lunch and his second innings spell in that Test was superb – it had some of the old fast bowlers commentating on that match purring. The deliveries to dismiss Root and Cook were among the balls of the series. Couldn’t keep that form up at The Oval, where he was desperately poor.
For all this talk about “X Factor” Morris needs to find a balance in his game that allows his captain to trust him.
Runs 75; Batting Ave 18.75; HS 36; Wickets 8; Ave 25.75; BB 3/38