November 1, 2013

Overseas masters

In the last six years South Africa have a 16-5 win-loss record in away Tests; no other team comes close during this period
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When South Africa lost the first Test of their series against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, they were in danger of losing their first overseas series since July-August 2006, when Sri Lanka beat them 2-0. (Even that series would have ended 1-1 if Sri Lanka hadn't squeezed out a one-wicket win in the second Test by chasing down a target of 352.) As it turned out, though, South Africa kept their magnificent overseas record intact by winning in Dubai and levelling the series 1-1, the 12th successive overseas series that they either won or drew.

Their record when playing away from home has been the stand-out aspect of South Africa's cricket over the last six years, and the one stat that's earned them the respect of all teams and critics. It's also differentiated them from the two previous No.1s, India and England, who rose to that position largely on the basis of home wins. During these six years, South Africa have actually achieved a much better winning ratio overseas (16 wins, 5 defeats, ratio 3.20) than at home (17 wins, 7 defeats, ratio 2.42).

In 12 overseas series during this period, South Africa have won eight and drawn four. The modern cricket schedule has also meant several short series, with little time to acclimatise, but they've coped fairly well with that too: out of five two-Test series, they have won two and drawn three. When given the opportunity to play longer series, South Africa have done even better, winning six out of seven which have consisted of three or more Tests. And the only series against one of the lesser sides was a 2-0 rout of Bangladesh in 2008.

A comparison with other teams during this period indicates how far ahead of the pack South Africa are. While they have a 16-5 win-loss record, the next best is England's 11-11. Pakistan and Australia have win-loss ratios of more than 0.7 as well. When tours to Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are excluded, South Africa are still clear leaders with a ratio of 2.80 (14 wins, 5 defeats), with England slipping to 0.81. Pakistan slip even further, as four of their 14 wins (and one defeat) came on tours to these countries.

South Africa's batting and bowling have both been pretty solid on these tours, but while a few other teams - Pakistan, Australia and England - have achieved similar bowling stats on tours, no other side has matched South Africa's batting prowess. They've averaged 43.43 on tours, around 18% better than the next-best batting team, England. Pakistan's bowlers have been the best of the lot, but the team has suffered because of their feeble batting, while Sri Lanka's bowlers have been the most toothless of the lot on tours.

Test results for teams in away and neutral venues since Oct 2007
Team Tests W/ L Ratio Bat ave Bowl ave
South Africa 32 16/ 5 3.20 43.43 33.51
England 36 11/ 11 1.00 36.70 34.87
Pakistan 43 14/ 18 0.77 29.70 32.07
Australia 38 12/ 16 0.75 33.69 34.24
India 29 8/ 14 0.57 31.74 41.25
West Indies 23 4/ 10 0.40 32.66 41.40
Sri Lanka 23 4/ 12 0.33 34.35 49.40
Bangladesh 14 3/ 10 0.30 25.55 41.27
New Zealand 29 4/ 19 0.21 25.30 37.48
Zimbabwe 3 0/ 3 0.00 13.80 45.96

South Africa have been so good on tours that they invite comparisons with the two dominant teams of the last 35 years - West Indies of the early 1980s and Australia of the early 2000s. While the table below suggests their win-loss ratio isn't quite as good as those of West Indies and Australia, it's still highly impressive. Also, unlike South Africa, both those sides lost an away series during their dominant periods - West Indies lost to New Zealand in 1980, while India defeated Australia in 2001. (If the New Zealand series is excluded and the next two are included, West Indies' win-loss drops to 16-4 from 34 Tests; if one of those two series is included, it becomes 15-3 from 31 Tests.) Again, it's South Africa's batting average that stands out in comparison to the other two teams (though it's also a reflection of the times that their bowling average is the poorest among the three teams).

In terms of comparison with other teams during their peaks, West Indies were far and away the mightiest during that period: they had a win-loss of 5.33, while the next-best were New Zealand with 0.42 (3 wins, 7 defeats) in away Tests. During Australia's best period, England had a win-loss ratio of 1.18 while South Africa were close behind at 1.09.

Comparing the overseas records of WI, Aus and SA
Team Period Tests W/ L Ratio Bat ave Bowl ave
West Indies Dec 1979-Jan 1985 34 16/ 3 5.33 33.21 25.84
Australia Oct 1999-Mar 2005 32 24/ 6 4.00 40.13 26.74
South Africa Oct 2007-Oct 2013 32 16/ 5 3.20 43.43 33.51

With the batting average being so high for South Africa, it's no surprise that four from the team find themselves in the top ten of batting averages in overseas Tests (including neutral venues) in the last six years. AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla lead the way, with barely a run separating the two. de Villiers has been the more consistent, averaging more than 43 in all the countries he has played in except Bangladesh, where he averages 33 in two Tests. In the West Indies and the UAE his average is more than 100, while it's between 53 and 58 in Australia, England and India. He has historically struggled a bit at home, but not during this period, averaging 58.83 from 27 home Tests.

Amla has exceptional stats in India (average 132.83 in five Tests), UAE (78.40), England (75.70) and Australia (57.81), but on the tour to the West Indies in 2010, he averaged 20.33 from six innings. Overall, though, there's little to separate the two.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul is up there too, followed by Graeme Smith, while Jacques Kallis makes it into the top ten despite a poor series against Pakistan.

Batsmen with the best averages in away Tests since Oct 2007 (Qual: 1500 runs0
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
AB de Villiers 32 2762 64.23 7/ 10
Hashim Amla 31 3100 63.26 11/ 11
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 20 1641 63.11 5/ 8
Graeme Smith 32 3126 57.88 11/ 12
Alastair Cook 36 3440 57.33 12/ 14
Thilan Samaraweera 19 1708 56.93 5/ 8
Sachin Tendulkar 26 2472 54.93 8/ 10
Misbah-ul-Haq 34 2605 53.10 4/ 22
Jacques Kallis 31 2496 53.10 11/ 7
Kumar Sangakkara 21 2025 51.92 7/ 10

South Africa's bowling effort has been led by Dale Steyn, who has missed only two overseas Tests during this period. In 30 matches, he has taken 140 wickets at an average of less than 25. Like the batsmen, he has been very consistent too, averaging 18.13 in the West Indies, 20.23 in five Tests in India, and less than 29 in Australia, Pakistan and New Zealand. Surprisingly, his average in England is 31.65, while he has done reasonably well on the unresponsive pitches of the UAE, averaging 32.78.

The addition of Vernon Philander has been a huge boost to the attack as well: in ten overseas Tests he averages 22, and his control over line and length were on display even on the unresponsive pitches of the UAE. Morne Morkel has taken 99 overseas wickets at 31.97 during this period, and Imran Tahir's incisive spells in Dubai means South Africa have an attacking spinner in their ranks as well, an area which has generally been a weakness for them. Sixteen wins and five defeats is testimony to just how well they've put those resources to use in overseas conditions.

Bowlers with best averages in away Tests since Oct 2007 (Qual: 40 wkts)
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Ryan Harris 11 54 20.75 42.8 3/ 0
Vernon Philander 10 43 22.00 48.0 3/ 1
Dale Steyn 30 140 24.73 45.2 7/ 2
Mohammad Asif 12 55 25.50 51.5 3/ 0
Saeed Ajmal 30 159 26.54 60.1 9/ 4
Abdur Rehman 17 79 26.93 64.3 2/ 0
Tim Southee 13 49 27.83 52.2 3/ 1
Shakib Al Hasan 11 43 28.00 58.2 4/ 0
Shane Watson 28 41 28.02 62.0 3/ 0
Graeme Swann 25 128 28.19 59.8 10/ 2
Zaheer Khan 16 68 29.01 50.3 2/ 1

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Romanticstud on November 1, 2013, 6:18 GMT

    I am a proudly South African supporter ... but a keen fan of statistics ... The fact that South Africa have led the way overseas bears testament to the fact that they have a strong batting line up ... Graeme Smith leads the run scoring with 3126 runs ... Hashim Amla is 26 runs behind and played 1 fewer test but between them and Kallis they have each made 11 hundreds in the 32 tests ... That is at least 1 hundred per test between the 3 of them ... The only player to get more 100s is Cook from England on 12 ... from 36 Tests which is a lower conversion rate per 100 ...

    The top 5 batsmen excluding Petersen ... score at an average of 207 per innings taking actual runs scored and no not out factor ... In that respect Amla scored 55 per innings, Smith 54, De Villiers 52 and Kallis 46 ... Petersen include it is 243 ... He contributes 36 ...

    And when your top 2 bowlers are getting wickets between 7.5 and 8 overs per wicket you can bowl sides out for low scores on a regular basis, on tour.

  • Greatest_Game on November 6, 2013, 3:58 GMT

    @ B.C.G In bilateral tours, the touring team does not unilaterally decide the number of tests (except India it seems!) SA have had 12 tours since 07. 2 tests once each vs Bang & India, but 3 times against Pak!. NZ, WI, India, Aus and Eng all hosted 3 match tours. Eng also hosted a 4 match tour. SL postponed a 3 match tour.

    Of 10 tours TO SA since 2007, Bangladesh, Aus & NZ (twice) played 2 tests. Pak, WI, SL, Aus & India all played 3, and Eng played a 4 test tour.

    India changed their tour to SA this year from 3 to 2 tests.

    For the rest of the current FTP, Aus & WI will each play 3 tests in SA, & Eng will play 4. SA tour India for 3 (we hope) & SL will host this year's postponed 3 tests. . Bang & Zim will each host SA for a 2 test tour.

    Bang & Zim only play 2 or 1 test series, & India once hosted SA for 2. Pak have 3 times hosted SA for 2 tests, & SA hosted NZ twice for 2 tests. Those are unusual.

    Also, why will Aus & India only play SA in 3 match series? Nervous?

  • Greatest_Game on November 6, 2013, 2:48 GMT

    @ johnathonjosephs South Africa's tour of Sri Lanka this year was supposed to include 3 tests, but the SLC asked to "postpone" the tests. SA are scheduled to play those 3 matches in Sri Lanka in May & June, 2015. Hopefully Kallis will still be playing, & fulfill your wish.

  • Greatest_Game on November 5, 2013, 21:16 GMT

    @ ChandraaR believes that " Clearly, before the series in England in 2012 (that started the 8-0 loss streak abroad), [India] had a better W/L ratio than England and Australia playing abroad. Yet they were questioned how India had a better ranking than them "without" doing well abroad?"

    Questioned by who?? India's 8-0 losing streak began in 2011 - NOT 2012. (Eng won in INDIA in 2012.) From Oct 07 to Jul 11, both India & Eng won 8, lost 6 abroad, India CLEARLY NOT better as you claim. Aus WERE worse, 8 & 8. "Doing well abroad" was SA's 11-4!

    In THIS story's context - SA's away SERIES record since 07 - before July 11 India won 3 lost 2 of 7 away series, Eng 3 & 3 of 7, & Aus 3 & 3 of 7. In series, India lost less abroad.

    07 to 11, India's HOME match record 11 & 2, (no loss to Eng or Aus) & 6 series wins, 2 draws, gave them that "better ranking." India's 2 match losses & series draws were, of course, to SA, who lead 12-7 overall: 5-5 in India, 1 series win; 7-2 in SA, no series loss!

  • mahjut on November 5, 2013, 13:46 GMT

    The strangest thing to come out of this for me is that i barely know who Ryan Harris is - who's he been playing abroad with those stats!!?

  • on November 4, 2013, 22:14 GMT

    Important is not win-loss ratio away from home. Important is that SA have not last single away test series since 2006. That is 13 test series in 7 year time. WOW. Even Aus and WI lost away series in peak times

  • Amol_Gh on November 4, 2013, 6:05 GMT

    As an SA-fan, I am only concerned with that Overseas comparision record of WI, AUS and SA. SA is not done yet and that Win-Loss ratio will only get better.

  • Robeli on November 4, 2013, 3:10 GMT

    What should be noted of the WI team of the 80's, is that they never played South Africa due to its isolation and never faced world class players like Graeme Pollock, etc. They may not have had that record. It could have been similar as the Aussies record.

  • ChandraaR on November 3, 2013, 23:03 GMT

    Interesting for me is the India stats. Clearly, before the series in England in 2012 (that started the 8-0 loss streak abroad), they had a better W/L ratio than England and Australia playing abroad. Yet they were questioned how India had a better ranking than them "without" doing well abroad?

  • on November 3, 2013, 2:24 GMT

    south Africa may come close to the west indies team of 80s. 50% of their matches overseas they have won. They are well behind Australia team of 2000s who won 75% of their matches. As I have always stated, no team compares to that Australia team. 2 of the best bowlers in the history of the game in the same team. no stand out batsmen but all very good players. One of the best wicket keeper batsman. and a fantastic captain in Waugh.

  • Romanticstud on November 1, 2013, 6:18 GMT

    I am a proudly South African supporter ... but a keen fan of statistics ... The fact that South Africa have led the way overseas bears testament to the fact that they have a strong batting line up ... Graeme Smith leads the run scoring with 3126 runs ... Hashim Amla is 26 runs behind and played 1 fewer test but between them and Kallis they have each made 11 hundreds in the 32 tests ... That is at least 1 hundred per test between the 3 of them ... The only player to get more 100s is Cook from England on 12 ... from 36 Tests which is a lower conversion rate per 100 ...

    The top 5 batsmen excluding Petersen ... score at an average of 207 per innings taking actual runs scored and no not out factor ... In that respect Amla scored 55 per innings, Smith 54, De Villiers 52 and Kallis 46 ... Petersen include it is 243 ... He contributes 36 ...

    And when your top 2 bowlers are getting wickets between 7.5 and 8 overs per wicket you can bowl sides out for low scores on a regular basis, on tour.

  • Greatest_Game on November 6, 2013, 3:58 GMT

    @ B.C.G In bilateral tours, the touring team does not unilaterally decide the number of tests (except India it seems!) SA have had 12 tours since 07. 2 tests once each vs Bang & India, but 3 times against Pak!. NZ, WI, India, Aus and Eng all hosted 3 match tours. Eng also hosted a 4 match tour. SL postponed a 3 match tour.

    Of 10 tours TO SA since 2007, Bangladesh, Aus & NZ (twice) played 2 tests. Pak, WI, SL, Aus & India all played 3, and Eng played a 4 test tour.

    India changed their tour to SA this year from 3 to 2 tests.

    For the rest of the current FTP, Aus & WI will each play 3 tests in SA, & Eng will play 4. SA tour India for 3 (we hope) & SL will host this year's postponed 3 tests. . Bang & Zim will each host SA for a 2 test tour.

    Bang & Zim only play 2 or 1 test series, & India once hosted SA for 2. Pak have 3 times hosted SA for 2 tests, & SA hosted NZ twice for 2 tests. Those are unusual.

    Also, why will Aus & India only play SA in 3 match series? Nervous?

  • Greatest_Game on November 6, 2013, 2:48 GMT

    @ johnathonjosephs South Africa's tour of Sri Lanka this year was supposed to include 3 tests, but the SLC asked to "postpone" the tests. SA are scheduled to play those 3 matches in Sri Lanka in May & June, 2015. Hopefully Kallis will still be playing, & fulfill your wish.

  • Greatest_Game on November 5, 2013, 21:16 GMT

    @ ChandraaR believes that " Clearly, before the series in England in 2012 (that started the 8-0 loss streak abroad), [India] had a better W/L ratio than England and Australia playing abroad. Yet they were questioned how India had a better ranking than them "without" doing well abroad?"

    Questioned by who?? India's 8-0 losing streak began in 2011 - NOT 2012. (Eng won in INDIA in 2012.) From Oct 07 to Jul 11, both India & Eng won 8, lost 6 abroad, India CLEARLY NOT better as you claim. Aus WERE worse, 8 & 8. "Doing well abroad" was SA's 11-4!

    In THIS story's context - SA's away SERIES record since 07 - before July 11 India won 3 lost 2 of 7 away series, Eng 3 & 3 of 7, & Aus 3 & 3 of 7. In series, India lost less abroad.

    07 to 11, India's HOME match record 11 & 2, (no loss to Eng or Aus) & 6 series wins, 2 draws, gave them that "better ranking." India's 2 match losses & series draws were, of course, to SA, who lead 12-7 overall: 5-5 in India, 1 series win; 7-2 in SA, no series loss!

  • mahjut on November 5, 2013, 13:46 GMT

    The strangest thing to come out of this for me is that i barely know who Ryan Harris is - who's he been playing abroad with those stats!!?

  • on November 4, 2013, 22:14 GMT

    Important is not win-loss ratio away from home. Important is that SA have not last single away test series since 2006. That is 13 test series in 7 year time. WOW. Even Aus and WI lost away series in peak times

  • Amol_Gh on November 4, 2013, 6:05 GMT

    As an SA-fan, I am only concerned with that Overseas comparision record of WI, AUS and SA. SA is not done yet and that Win-Loss ratio will only get better.

  • Robeli on November 4, 2013, 3:10 GMT

    What should be noted of the WI team of the 80's, is that they never played South Africa due to its isolation and never faced world class players like Graeme Pollock, etc. They may not have had that record. It could have been similar as the Aussies record.

  • ChandraaR on November 3, 2013, 23:03 GMT

    Interesting for me is the India stats. Clearly, before the series in England in 2012 (that started the 8-0 loss streak abroad), they had a better W/L ratio than England and Australia playing abroad. Yet they were questioned how India had a better ranking than them "without" doing well abroad?

  • on November 3, 2013, 2:24 GMT

    south Africa may come close to the west indies team of 80s. 50% of their matches overseas they have won. They are well behind Australia team of 2000s who won 75% of their matches. As I have always stated, no team compares to that Australia team. 2 of the best bowlers in the history of the game in the same team. no stand out batsmen but all very good players. One of the best wicket keeper batsman. and a fantastic captain in Waugh.

  • stormy16 on November 2, 2013, 14:22 GMT

    Its SA then daylight and then the rest! A win loss ratio overseas over 1 would be respectable but 3+ is just unbelievable. Interestingly the Windies and Aussies of the past have better ratios but the Saffers are not done yet and I don't see many teams beating this SA side at home or away for a long time.

  • on November 2, 2013, 13:28 GMT

    home advantage is not only about same weather or same type of pitch. home advantage is that you play your 1 st class games regularly on those wickets. and know it better. thats why it is away series if not played in same country. uae will be termed away series for pakistan because of that.

  • on November 2, 2013, 13:24 GMT

    you dont need to win every where to prove yourself. draw is also an acheivement in away series. so as some 1 suggests that SA are not good because they lost to SL in 2006 and drew with pak & india is not correct . they did well and not lost a series for such a long time proves they are good.

    and testcricfan: mate are you saying that only weather is the difference in subcontinent but wickets are same? so that means if any of pak, sl, ban, india play in sub continent , it will be home series? thats a joke. no matter how similar conditions are it is an away series if not played in same country. no ifs in it.

  • on November 2, 2013, 9:08 GMT

    As good as RSA are - and they are excellent, comparisons with the great Oz teams of the late 90's to mid 2000's or the peerless WI side from 76-91 is premature. Those sides dominated everywhere, in all conditions. RSA have done well in Asia, but not blown sides away home and away.

    The batting is special and in Steyn they have a genuinely great fast bowler. Need a spinner.

  • 2nd_Slip on November 2, 2013, 8:14 GMT

    @Trickstar-Loving the excuses you are conjuring up for Swan during that Eng-SA series lol. "Swann's bowled well all over the world and had match winning performances everywhere"- yeah right ,against weak opposition that is, lol look at how he bowls when playing SA, he gets bashed like a club level spinner and besides a few players hit the ground running in test cricket so give Tahir time and you'll be eating humble pie.But seriously, the fact of the matter is we are all entitled to our own opinions and I stand by what I said.

  • DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on November 2, 2013, 7:20 GMT

    SA cricket team never dominated in asain conditions. They should play 3 test match series to prove their performance in sub-continent. They are beaten by srilankan when they toured last time (2-0), they draw 1-1 against pakistan recently and against india few years ago. They are GOOD but NOT BETTER. And also they lost odi very badly against srilanka recently and struggling against pak now. so clearly SA struggling to dominate bcz their inability to play spin.

  • Paracha420 on November 2, 2013, 7:18 GMT

    Once again proved India got no#1 test ranking playing in there own backyard and Dhoni clearly fails as a overseas test captain and India as an overseas Test team despite having Sachin Dravid Laxman although Dhoni is a great leader in limited overs cricket.Nice to see Misbah and Ajmal in the list and now please don't compare Ajmal with Ashwin.

  • S.M.Salik on November 2, 2013, 6:42 GMT

    The Fact which above statistics shows, SA are obvious No. 1 with the incredible record, What about previous No. 1 Test rankings side ?, IND & ENG. claimed No.1 on the performance of their home shows. What most astonoshing revealing in the Column is that Pakistan comes 3rd with away win loss Ratio. Having being labelled most unpredictable side. With Misbah in the top runs getter and Ajmal the best bowling averages overseas, having not bowled in IND & BAN (spin friendly) this is some remarkable achievement of PAK. Well done Misbah & Boys.

  • on November 2, 2013, 5:35 GMT

    While South Africa Test Team Achievements are similar to Great West Indies and Australia of the past, its their Poor ODI Statistics which stop them from achieving the next No.1 Cricket Team.

    They should draw Inspiration from previous Australian Teams by playing ODI Specialists like what Bevan, Symonds, Lehmann, Harvey, Bichel did for Australia.

    Barring Amla and Kallis, there are no good players of Pace and Spin in both Test, ODI formats. De villers struggles against quality Spin in ODI format, while Duminy has to increase his temperament.

  • on November 2, 2013, 0:50 GMT

    And I totally disagree with the comment that UAE should qualify as a "Home Venue" for Pakistan. We do prepare the pitches but our batsmen always throw away that advantage and our bowlers are pretty much good everywhere.

    The point I want to make is that UAE's wickets are different in nature than what we see in subcontinent. You don't get to see 300 being chased for fun in Sharjah or more than 5k people watching the tests in Dubai. Neither does the ball talks there like it does in Karachi. No issues of fog/bad light in UAE whereas in Pakistan, the players never died of heat :p Weather changes many things.

  • cloudmess on November 1, 2013, 23:47 GMT

    SA are way out in front. However, it's a little unfair to lump England and India's away win-loss ration together, when England's 11-11 is still noticeably better than India's 8-14.

  • Not_Another_Keybored_Expert on November 1, 2013, 22:36 GMT

    What you failed to point out is that WI and SA have a very high draw rate compared to Australia,@ stalburgher that is not true if you check the stats again you will notice that all three teams records were taken over a six year period and they have all played almost the exact same amount of games, so what this proves is that SA still have a long way to go if they want to be considered one of the greats.

  • Cpt.Meanster on November 1, 2013, 21:47 GMT

    A decent test match team without doubt. But perennial chokers in the tournaments that MATTER most - the world cup, world t20, Champions Trophy etc. Yes, as a team in white clothing, SA are pretty decent even though they do struggle in India and still haven't won a series there since the 90s. But they DO deserve their no.1 test rank without doubt. Lots of work needed in limited overs cricket though.

  • LeftBrain on November 1, 2013, 21:19 GMT

    @Testcricfan - Any ground that is not your home ground is considered away ground, this is quite simple but somehow you are not getting it. Rajesh did the right thing by classifying UAE as away, otherwise one can argue that all subcontinent pitches are similar so any trips of sub continent teams to one another countries should by considered 'home test', no? similarly NZ and Eng pitches and weather conditions are similar so their trips to each other are home for both teams? Away series is an away series, no ifs and buts here.

  • Trickstar on November 1, 2013, 20:55 GMT

    @ liz1558 Don't agree with you're point that even when England were No1, SA were clearly the top side. England earned that top spot, they even drew with SA in their own back yard in the run up, as well as beating every other side they played during the period to them becoming No1. Lets not forget that SA didn't win a home test series against a top 8 side between 2007 and 2011.

  • Trickstar on November 1, 2013, 20:34 GMT

    @2nd_Slip I've seen both Tahir and Swann bowl in County cricket and in international over the years and to say that Tahir is a better bowler than Swann or Ajmal for that matter is rubbish imo. Swann has been world class for years while Tahir has done very little so far. As for saying you watched them go head to head, that's a complete read hearing because firstly, I once saw derek pringle bowl better than Malcolm marshall, does that mean he's better lol. Also they're not bowling to the same batsmen, Swann also only played 2 of the test matches and secondly Swann had an injury problem throughout the series and had elbow surgery at the end of it. Stats don't lie & Tahir averages 42 and has literally only bowled half decent in a couple of innings in international cricket. The likes of Swann & Ajmal are so far in front of him it's not funny. Swann's bowled well all over the world and had match winning performances everywhere, including the off spinners graveyard that is Australia.

  • StaalBurgher on November 1, 2013, 18:32 GMT

    The fact that SA are being shafted with 2 Test series one after the other for the forseeable future means our win loss ratio will never be as good as Oz or WI. In those days they played 5 Test match series often and the very minimum 3.

  • Testcricfan on November 1, 2013, 16:13 GMT

    I agree with the author that the South Africans have been the best travelers...what surprised me was the relatively high ranking of Pakistan in the table, above Aus and India...After double checking the numbers, it emerged the reason for this is UAE is listed as away venue for Pakistan, which is little baffling...Pakistan get to prepare the wickets in UAE, which are pretty similar to Pak wickets, and have lot of "home" supporters there...Away teams neither of these advantages - what is so different between UAE & Subcontinent - cricket wise - except the weather? Away matches are basically matches played at home of opposition - not simulated home conditions. Given that Pak lost 3-0 to AUS, SA and 3-1 to Eng, lost to *ZIM* how do they qulaify to be better travelers than AUS per the Author? Agreed they have a good bowling attack, but that they are as poor a team as India & SL overseas.

  • HatsforBats on November 1, 2013, 13:12 GMT

    Far and away SA have been the best side for a number of years, and that is set to continue. I do wonder though at the epithet of 'mightiest' applied to the great WIndies. Nearly 45% draw rate? Even accounting for times-a-changin, I rate Australias 6% draw rate pretty highly. Also good to see Harris get some recognition, he's been beyond compare whilst Philander, Steyn, & Anderson have garnered all the applause.

  • Kaballas on November 1, 2013, 12:52 GMT

    I think one major asset is the fact that SA has a few batsmen who averages more in the second innings that the first (or at least it is close). This is a very interesting stat. Most batsmen average 20 runs more in the first innings overall. The reasons are fatigue, deteriorating pitch and scoreboard pressure....

    SA have chased down big targets abroad due to this and G Smith was instrumental in most of them.

  • B.C.G on November 1, 2013, 12:38 GMT

    "out of five two-Test series, they have won two and drawn three. When given the opportunity to play longer series, South Africa have done even better, winning six out of seven which have consisted of three or more Tests."This begs the question-Why do CSA arrange such 2 match series?

  • liz1558 on November 1, 2013, 12:06 GMT

    Even when India and England were the official #1 teams from 2007, SA were clearly the best, and the stats bear that out. One of the most impressive stats there is Swann's away form. The dude can bowl. That Ajmal has taken more at a better rate is a bit misleading, as all of his Tests have been away from home. Still, as good as SA are, the big show-down is likely to be in 2015 when they square up to England again. SA are odds on favourites, but England will definitely make a better showing.

  • B.C.G on November 1, 2013, 12:06 GMT

    @blthndr-Jimmy Anderson.HA HA.He has improved a lot since 2009 however.This table includes 2008-09 where he was o.k.

  • blthndr on November 1, 2013, 11:03 GMT

    lo0k at..Bowlers with best averages in away Tests since Oct 2007.....guess who is not in the list....

  • 2nd_Slip on November 1, 2013, 10:38 GMT

    Wow these stats clearly show that SA are head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to test cricket!!! Truly remarkable and well deserved. They have 4 of the best batsmen(Amla,ABD,Smith,Kallis) and two of the best bowlers(Steyn,Philander) in world cricket at the moment.

    Just like the dominant Aus side, looking at SA's line up and comparing it to that of other teams I can only think of a couple of players playing at the moment who would have a chance of making the starting line up if they were South Africans (Cook for Peterson and Clarke/Chanderpaul/Sanga for Faf/JP ). And oh before you think i forgot Swan and Ajmal, no I haven't, I have seen Imran Tahir bowl better than both of them head to head during the Eng-SA series and Pak-SA series!!

    This side is very good but I admittedly still think they can be even more ruthless considering the talent they have.

  • on November 1, 2013, 10:12 GMT

    These stats are another good argument for the ICC rankings to include a home/away weighting, at least in the test ranking.

  • on November 1, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    While we may say that SA need 2 win in sub-continent conditions, we have 2 remember that all the great teams had some weaknesses and so maybe the sub-continent is our weakness. So 4 me a drawn series over there is enough, bcos it means we've survived the packed stadiums, the Virat kohlis, Shikar Dhawans and Dhoni's great captaincy. And its not as playing away from home is the only determining factor 4 greatness, we have to ensure that we win like 20 matches in a row @ home and make sure we can beat the others away from home, even if we can't win a series in sub-continent. And who knows, maybe in th future, when we hav a spinner thts even better than Imran-bcos he's already a gud 1.

  • on November 1, 2013, 9:21 GMT

    As a South African, the one thing I would like to still see from this team is a bit more aggression when it comes to our batting. That Aussie team of the 2000s was able to take the game away from you in a morning by bullying bowlers. It was as much in their heads as it was in the skills. I would like to see our batsmen (or at least one or two of them whose games suits it) hitting the ball more in front of the wicket. For many years SA were more afraid to lose than they were committed to winning, but in the last few seasons that has changed which has made them more interesting to watch. I'll take a boring win any day, but with the quality in our test batting line-up we should have the confidence to attack a bit more. Allan Donald has brought that attacking mindset to our bowlers.

  • nzondisakhela on November 1, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    wow. Greame Smith has actually got more runs than AB & Hash during this period. Silent warrior indeed. Its a real pity that SA plays much shorter series. They a treat to watch.

  • RobinSinghi on November 1, 2013, 8:02 GMT

    i am an indian by heart. but when it comes to sports, sportsmanship, game... salute SA. i'm elated every time i see best out of both SA & IND cric teams. these particular stats are proof of our honest support towards south african structure. in india we have trains full of cricket talent. what we require is an strong & competetive domestic structure. we have a talented young mature team which has started winning global events, and now what i want to see from them is great test performances especially overseas. GO INDIA! eager to see india present an entertaining brand of CRICKET in these december trip to South Africa........

    Lots of Respect for both SA & IND team culture

  • on November 1, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    A real number one team...

  • AB_DeVilliers on November 1, 2013, 7:46 GMT

    @johnathonjosephs - I agree that this SA team still needs to beat a team in the sub-continent convincingly. Their last victory was in fact in 2007 beating Pakistan in Pakistan after the SL loss. It didn't help that SL changed the tour schedule for this year, swapping out the tests for ODIs. Guess we won't be playing tests in SL for a long time.

    Good article. It shows that this SA team has the making of becoming a special team. As the stats show, they're not great yet, but I reckon they need to beat a sub-continent team convincingly (preferably India as they are the highest ranked) and then we'll know they're the real deal.

    India should never be no.1, sorry. I love their team, but you can't just keep winning at home and losing away and then claim you're the best. The young team will take a while to reach the top again.

  • Clan_McLachlan on November 1, 2013, 7:30 GMT

    We will remember this as a golden age of South African cricket. I'm enjoying every match while it lasts.

  • johnathonjosephs on November 1, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    Its funny that after that Sri Lanka Test Series 2-0, South Africa have never lost a test series away. They also have not played Sri Lanka in a test series in Sri Lanka since then too...... Sri Lanka is very underrated in Tests (6th or 7th place at the moment), yet they still perform some miracle wins. One only has to remember the "Christmas Miracle" in South Africa last year where Sri Lanka convincingly beat the Saffers in SA in the 2nd Test. One only has to blame the SLC for not scheduling more tests. There was a South Africa tour in Sri Lanka for ODI's this year, but Sri Lanka easily beat them 4-1.... This was also without Kallis and Steyn, however. Would love to see a full strength SA team tour Lanka

  • on November 1, 2013, 3:43 GMT

    Given that Pakistan have absolutely had no home advantage, even if they played quite a few 'away' matches in familiar sort of pitches in UAE - their record is very impressive. Goes to show, despite their batting frailties, any test team which has bowlers to take 20 wickets always stand a stronger chance of winning than those loaded with batsmen. Also goes to show how badly India and Sri Lanka have been hurt in absence of even the two world-class bowlers they had in early part of the 2000s. Without Zaheer, Harbhajan and Kumble (India) and without Murali, Vaas (SL) are seriously struggling to keep their heads above water, and their bench strength doesn't inspire any confidence.

  • on November 1, 2013, 3:43 GMT

    Given that Pakistan have absolutely had no home advantage, even if they played quite a few 'away' matches in familiar sort of pitches in UAE - their record is very impressive. Goes to show, despite their batting frailties, any test team which has bowlers to take 20 wickets always stand a stronger chance of winning than those loaded with batsmen. Also goes to show how badly India and Sri Lanka have been hurt in absence of even the two world-class bowlers they had in early part of the 2000s. Without Zaheer, Harbhajan and Kumble (India) and without Murali, Vaas (SL) are seriously struggling to keep their heads above water, and their bench strength doesn't inspire any confidence.

  • johnathonjosephs on November 1, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    Its funny that after that Sri Lanka Test Series 2-0, South Africa have never lost a test series away. They also have not played Sri Lanka in a test series in Sri Lanka since then too...... Sri Lanka is very underrated in Tests (6th or 7th place at the moment), yet they still perform some miracle wins. One only has to remember the "Christmas Miracle" in South Africa last year where Sri Lanka convincingly beat the Saffers in SA in the 2nd Test. One only has to blame the SLC for not scheduling more tests. There was a South Africa tour in Sri Lanka for ODI's this year, but Sri Lanka easily beat them 4-1.... This was also without Kallis and Steyn, however. Would love to see a full strength SA team tour Lanka

  • Clan_McLachlan on November 1, 2013, 7:30 GMT

    We will remember this as a golden age of South African cricket. I'm enjoying every match while it lasts.

  • AB_DeVilliers on November 1, 2013, 7:46 GMT

    @johnathonjosephs - I agree that this SA team still needs to beat a team in the sub-continent convincingly. Their last victory was in fact in 2007 beating Pakistan in Pakistan after the SL loss. It didn't help that SL changed the tour schedule for this year, swapping out the tests for ODIs. Guess we won't be playing tests in SL for a long time.

    Good article. It shows that this SA team has the making of becoming a special team. As the stats show, they're not great yet, but I reckon they need to beat a sub-continent team convincingly (preferably India as they are the highest ranked) and then we'll know they're the real deal.

    India should never be no.1, sorry. I love their team, but you can't just keep winning at home and losing away and then claim you're the best. The young team will take a while to reach the top again.

  • on November 1, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    A real number one team...

  • RobinSinghi on November 1, 2013, 8:02 GMT

    i am an indian by heart. but when it comes to sports, sportsmanship, game... salute SA. i'm elated every time i see best out of both SA & IND cric teams. these particular stats are proof of our honest support towards south african structure. in india we have trains full of cricket talent. what we require is an strong & competetive domestic structure. we have a talented young mature team which has started winning global events, and now what i want to see from them is great test performances especially overseas. GO INDIA! eager to see india present an entertaining brand of CRICKET in these december trip to South Africa........

    Lots of Respect for both SA & IND team culture

  • nzondisakhela on November 1, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    wow. Greame Smith has actually got more runs than AB & Hash during this period. Silent warrior indeed. Its a real pity that SA plays much shorter series. They a treat to watch.

  • on November 1, 2013, 9:21 GMT

    As a South African, the one thing I would like to still see from this team is a bit more aggression when it comes to our batting. That Aussie team of the 2000s was able to take the game away from you in a morning by bullying bowlers. It was as much in their heads as it was in the skills. I would like to see our batsmen (or at least one or two of them whose games suits it) hitting the ball more in front of the wicket. For many years SA were more afraid to lose than they were committed to winning, but in the last few seasons that has changed which has made them more interesting to watch. I'll take a boring win any day, but with the quality in our test batting line-up we should have the confidence to attack a bit more. Allan Donald has brought that attacking mindset to our bowlers.

  • on November 1, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    While we may say that SA need 2 win in sub-continent conditions, we have 2 remember that all the great teams had some weaknesses and so maybe the sub-continent is our weakness. So 4 me a drawn series over there is enough, bcos it means we've survived the packed stadiums, the Virat kohlis, Shikar Dhawans and Dhoni's great captaincy. And its not as playing away from home is the only determining factor 4 greatness, we have to ensure that we win like 20 matches in a row @ home and make sure we can beat the others away from home, even if we can't win a series in sub-continent. And who knows, maybe in th future, when we hav a spinner thts even better than Imran-bcos he's already a gud 1.

  • on November 1, 2013, 10:12 GMT

    These stats are another good argument for the ICC rankings to include a home/away weighting, at least in the test ranking.