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The Proteas Series: Picking the best ODI XI

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Zaahier Adams has been handed the arduous task of choosing “the best ever” to don the green Proteas ODI jumper. He starts at the top with a dynamic opening partnership.

THE PROTEAS may not have succeeded in bringing home an elusive piece of ICC silverware, with particularly the World Cup trophy painfully eluding them since their historic introduction to global tournaments in 1992. However, in the years between these multi-national jamborees, they have consistently dominated bilateral ODI series against all nations, including the mighty Australians. 

Throughout this period there have been individuals who have thrilled spectators with their skill, flair and innovation, elevating global standards and setting new trends that the rest would follow. 

Zaahier Adams

has the arduous task of choosing “the best ever” to don the green Proteas ODI jumper. He starts at the top with a dynamic opening partnership that ironically spent their best years admiring each other’s class from the non-striker’s end.

THE OPENERS

Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock

What is it they say about opposites attracting? Well, it would be a strain to find two more contrasting personalities than Amla and De Kock, but yet they compliment each other like peanut butter and jam.

There are some like former captain Graeme Smith (6,989 runs at 38.19) and Gary Kirsten (6,798 at 40.95) who threaten to break up this matrimony, but the pair are simply inseparable. Individually, their records are untouchable. 

Amla boasts 8,113 runs at 49.46 – not too shabby for someone initially branded a “red-ball specialist” and had to wait four years for an ODI cap after his Test debut. The Mighty# raised his bat for 25 centuries and 52 fifties, which won him the race to be the fastest batsman ever to post 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, 5,000, 6,000 and 7,000 ODI runs. Only Indian maestro Virat Kohli pipped Amla to the 8,000-run landmark.

Amla’s unique skill was his ability to pepper the off-side boundary consistently during the powerplay overs by hitting bowlers off their line and lengths without any undue risk. And when the bowlers attempted to adjust, there he was ready and waiting to deftly tuck it off his legs. His manipulation of the field was a fine art.

De Kock is more savage. He carves anything square of the wicket while tearing into the short stuff. Equally, South Africa’s new white-ball captain does not hesitate to launch anything over-pitched straight back over the bowler’s head. Still only 27, De Kock has already tallied 5,135 runs at 44.65 with 15 centuries and 25 fifties.

Collectively, they strode to the crease together 95 times and accumulated 4,300 runs at an average of 46.73. There has simply been nobody better.