January 8, 2011

The bridesmaid awaits her turn

In 2010, South Africa watched India enjoy the crown that could well have been theirs
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Come in, No. 2, your time in the shadow of Australia is up. At least, that's the way South Africa would have preferred their year to pan out. Instead they spent 12 months marking time in wet cement.

The Proteas were, as always, competitive in 2010, earning three of their Test victories by an innings and the other two by margins that were almost as convincing. However, a lack of ruthlessness afflicted them in all four of their drawn Tests. The malady may well persist until they find a permanent replacement for yeoman fast bowler Makhaya Ntini, whose retirement from the international arena he graced for 12 years will be a Twenty20 match against India staged in a football stadium and followed by a Bollywood concert.

But while one icon saddles up for the sunset, another has the full right to bask in the glare of his achievements. Not that the impressively grounded Hashim Amla would ever do something so brash. Rare are those who are as comfortable walking among us as they are rising above us. More unusual still are those who remain true to themselves in the throes of all that.Having staked a serious claim to be regarded as the finest current Test No. 3, Amla ended the year as the world's top-ranked batsman in the one-day format he was once deemed unsuited for.

South Africa were again formidable in one-day internationals, winning 12 of the 16 matches they played in 2010. But two of their losses cost them a rubber in India, and we should not forget that the year did not feature an ICC 50-overs tournament. Instead the Proteas suffered their all too familiar flop at the World Twenty20 in the West Indies, where they crashed out in the Super Eights.

On the Test front they started the year by fighting back to draw a home series against England. They also shared the spoils in India, and followed that with a 2-0 win in the Caribbean. Then came another stalemate, against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

All the while India made themselves comfortable on the throne Australia had finally been prised from and South Africa had coveted for so long. So when the Indians arrived to play their first Test series in South Africa since 2006-07 - and their first not staged on the slow pitches of the Asian subcontinent or in New Zealand in 23 months - anticipation was high in the country that the world would be shown who the top Test team really were. But the series refused to follow the convention of Indian batsmen struggling in South African conditions against bristling fast bowlers, whose Indian counterparts weren't equipped to make the most of those conditions.

It was partly true on day one of the first Test, when India were put in to bat on a damp Centurion surface and crashed to 116 for 9 on their way to losing by an innings.It was debatable whether South Africa would have dwindled to that extent had they been inserted, seeing as India were without Zaheer Khan, who was ruled out with a groin strain. The match will be forever remembered for the monumental milestones of Sachin Tendulkar's 50th Test century and Jacques Kallis' maiden Test double-century.

In the second Test, the recovered Zaheer was unleashed on a fast and furious Kingsmead surface and Sreesanth continued to ruffle the mental feathers of most who faced him - almost palpably in the case of Graeme Smith - as India proved they could give as good as they got. The deciding factor was VVS Laxman's steel-willed 96 in the second innings, the highest score of a match India won by 87 runs to level the series heading into the decider at Newlands.

It was only right that the showdown between the game's two top-ranked teams should be concluded on a pitch that, finally, promised a fair contest between bat and ball. When the covers were removed on the first morning a bona fide greentop was duly revealed. But centuries by Kallis and Tendulkar, 161 and 146 respectively, ensured that things stayed tidy in both first innings. Kallis then made an unbeaten 109 to become the first South African to score centuries in both innings of a Test match twice.

The match was set up for an exciting fifth day. India needed 340 to win with all 10 wickets standing on a pitch that offered turn and bounce. But South Africa's attack failed to be the threat they needed to be, and a tame draw ensued.

With that, India earned their first drawn series in South Africa in five attempts, and the begrudging respect of the locals, who had been telling the world before-hand how they were going to knock the Indians' heads off.

The series in the Caribbean earlier in the year passed virtually unnoticed in South Africa thanks to the country hosting a coinciding event that was always going to rule uber alles, the 2010 football World Cup. The only way cricket was going to muscle into the headlines during the month of June was if the Windies woke up from their recurring nightmare and beat the Proteas. They remained unsoundly asleep.

The two Tests against Pakistan were played on pitches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi that would have survived a nuclear holocaust in mint condition. They were duly drawn. That said, more creative bowlers might have been able to find a way through Pakistan's unusually resolute batting line-up.

So expectations leapt when it was revealed, on New Year's Day, that Imran Tahir's application for South African citizenship had been successful.

That made the Pakistani-born legspinner, the top wicket-taker in the SuperSport Series this season and a perennial performer in domestic cricket, immediately eligible for the Proteas. The news came too late for Tahir to be included in the squad for the third Test, but chances are good that he will feature in the one-day series against India.

It could be that 2010 will be the last year for some time that South Africa will have to make do without a spinner who looks to take wickets, rather than simply to plug an end. Tahir's small step forward might just prove to be the great leap South Africa need to take towards a balanced attack.

New kid on the block
He's not new, and at 31 he's certainly no kid. But Tahir looks for all money like the spark required to ignite the fire that has quietly smouldered within South Africa since their return to the international scene in 1991. Besides, it's about time the country that has been providing players for other national teams for years should do some duty-free shopping of its own.

Fading star
It's difficult to imagine anyone besides Mark Boucher crouching behind the stumps when South Africa are in the field. But he has been the first-choice stumper since 1998, and his 34-year-old knees must be swearing at him. Trouble is, the closest South Africa have come to producing a replacement for Boucher in the past 12 years is AB de Villiers.

High point
The lack of a double-century in Kallis' otherwise dazzling array of batting achievements puzzled a nation for the best part of 15 years. So when he finally solved the riddle with an unbeaten 201 in the first Test against India, South Africans were relieved that they would no longer have to explain the oddly deficient appetite of their most run-hungry son to the world.

Low point
Losing a Test match is no one's idea of fun. Doing so in bespoke bowling conditions doesn't make you feel any better, particularly when you are playing a team whose batsmen are said to faint at the merest hint of green in the pitch. But for your dressing room to spread rumours about the drinking habits of umpires is just tacky. Shame on you.

What 2011 holds
The World Cup looms extremely loud and incredibly close for South Africa. Nothing matters nearly as much for the Proteas in 2011 as success in the tournament, not even the tour by Australia in September and October. And after three unsuccessful trips to the semi-finals, success for South Africa at the World Cup means nothing less than winning it.

Telford Vice is a freelance cricket writer in South Africa

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on January 10, 2011, 18:58 GMT

    Balakrishna and Sidharth, its just plain old hypocrisy nothing else. The teams and players from the sub continent have to face this. The definition of an all time great player keeps varying for different countries. A subcontinent player would always be looked upon as 'Oh did he score runs here' or 'Did he take wickets there' but obviously no such constraint will be placed against English or Aussie players. When the question comes to the best team how do you expect these guys to accept India as the best then? :-)

    However, since this article is about SA, I'll take an example from there. Don't you guys think that Kallis would have been declared the greatest player of all time a long time ago had he been an Aussie or a Pom?

  • siddharth1982 on January 10, 2011, 6:38 GMT

    India's recent performance against top 4 test nations in home and away series

    Against Home Away South Africa drew 1-1 drew 1-1 England won 1-0 won 1-0 Sri Lanka won 2-0 drew 1-1

    So there is absolutely no doubt that India deserve to be hence are the best team. Look at Engald's record aginst the top 3, there is no doubt that they are an improving side.........but calling them #1 after a 3-1 win over a clueless aussie side (which is not even in the top 4) is stupid. India will thrash them in the away series after the worldcup and put all english supporters in their places. It's ok to compare but records & exploits speak volumes

  • on January 9, 2011, 19:20 GMT

    Kallis then made an unbeaten 109 to become the first South African to score centuries in both innings of a Test match twice AT HOME.... PLZ MAKE NO MISTAKE. A few others have scored hundreds in both the innings of the same test but away from bome.

  • Truemans_Ghost on January 9, 2011, 15:46 GMT

    If you look at the ICC ranking points- SA are only a couple of points ahead of England but India are still a LONG way ahead.It will take a long time to reel India in even if 2 or 3 start outperforming them.

  • BellCurve on January 9, 2011, 11:39 GMT

    According to the market, India are favourites with a 21.3% chance to lift the WC. They are followed by England (16.2%), SA and SL (both 14.5%) and Australia (13.7%). The next tier includes Pakistan (8.3%), NZ (5.2%), WI (3.2%) and Bangladesh (2%). Based on these odds, I consider England as expensive and Pakistan as cheap. Bangladesh also deserves better odds, but I cannot see them going all the way. NZ with a full strenght team is very unpredictable. Both Taylor and McCullum are proven match-wnners in sub-continent conditions. All I know for sure is that it is shaping up to be an awesome tournament.

  • on January 9, 2011, 8:16 GMT

    Proteas still not NO1 Test Team in the worldthey have to try hard to Break the Indian Barrier......Better luck next time South Africa

  • Indian_a_Jones on January 9, 2011, 7:17 GMT

    @ Christoph Groenewald. keep dreaming buddy!!!!

  • Cpt.Meanster on January 9, 2011, 1:48 GMT

    SA are a good side but I honestly cannot see them lifting the trophy in this WC. They simply don't have the skill to excel in tough sub-continental conditions. Sure they field well and bat decently enough but without a quality spinner or 2 in their ranks they will choke as they always do. Australia too don't have the quality of their predecessors to win it. England ? well they could make it to the final 4. So what does that leave us with ? India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Pakistan are unpredictable and could well be dark horses. However the favorites have to be either India or Sri Lanka but the former has a solid chance of lifting the cup on home soil. India have the class and experience of drubbing any side in home conditions. So let's wait and see for this is gonna be one heck of tournament.

  • bestbuddy on January 9, 2011, 0:40 GMT

    There is a more than able replacement in Heino Kuhn, who keeps AB from keeping for the Titans, and averages 46 in first class cricket. What SA are missing though is an attacking spinner (bring on Tahir!) and a reliable 3rd seamer; Tsotsobe has not lived up to expectations, and does not seem to have the bounce or movement to succeed consistently. SA need to be less sentimental and make changes for the good of th team. A real opener, not petersen who averages less than 5 other openers in first class cricket in SA, and a form no6 in Duminy, who is also someone for the future, not a 32 year old who hasnt hit a hundred in nearly 2 years!

  • on January 8, 2011, 22:02 GMT

    Always, Every body says India is good only on sub continental picthes. But doesn't it also mean other countries are not competetive enough on sub continental pitches? So why not we say SA and England are not good teams as they are not comptetive on Indian pitches. They are not good enough on testing conditions. As long as they are not good in India, they shouldn't be qualified for No1 Spot. What do u says guys? Is my argument invalid? Cricket is cricket every where whether it is Indian pitches or England pitches.

  • on January 10, 2011, 18:58 GMT

    Balakrishna and Sidharth, its just plain old hypocrisy nothing else. The teams and players from the sub continent have to face this. The definition of an all time great player keeps varying for different countries. A subcontinent player would always be looked upon as 'Oh did he score runs here' or 'Did he take wickets there' but obviously no such constraint will be placed against English or Aussie players. When the question comes to the best team how do you expect these guys to accept India as the best then? :-)

    However, since this article is about SA, I'll take an example from there. Don't you guys think that Kallis would have been declared the greatest player of all time a long time ago had he been an Aussie or a Pom?

  • siddharth1982 on January 10, 2011, 6:38 GMT

    India's recent performance against top 4 test nations in home and away series

    Against Home Away South Africa drew 1-1 drew 1-1 England won 1-0 won 1-0 Sri Lanka won 2-0 drew 1-1

    So there is absolutely no doubt that India deserve to be hence are the best team. Look at Engald's record aginst the top 3, there is no doubt that they are an improving side.........but calling them #1 after a 3-1 win over a clueless aussie side (which is not even in the top 4) is stupid. India will thrash them in the away series after the worldcup and put all english supporters in their places. It's ok to compare but records & exploits speak volumes

  • on January 9, 2011, 19:20 GMT

    Kallis then made an unbeaten 109 to become the first South African to score centuries in both innings of a Test match twice AT HOME.... PLZ MAKE NO MISTAKE. A few others have scored hundreds in both the innings of the same test but away from bome.

  • Truemans_Ghost on January 9, 2011, 15:46 GMT

    If you look at the ICC ranking points- SA are only a couple of points ahead of England but India are still a LONG way ahead.It will take a long time to reel India in even if 2 or 3 start outperforming them.

  • BellCurve on January 9, 2011, 11:39 GMT

    According to the market, India are favourites with a 21.3% chance to lift the WC. They are followed by England (16.2%), SA and SL (both 14.5%) and Australia (13.7%). The next tier includes Pakistan (8.3%), NZ (5.2%), WI (3.2%) and Bangladesh (2%). Based on these odds, I consider England as expensive and Pakistan as cheap. Bangladesh also deserves better odds, but I cannot see them going all the way. NZ with a full strenght team is very unpredictable. Both Taylor and McCullum are proven match-wnners in sub-continent conditions. All I know for sure is that it is shaping up to be an awesome tournament.

  • on January 9, 2011, 8:16 GMT

    Proteas still not NO1 Test Team in the worldthey have to try hard to Break the Indian Barrier......Better luck next time South Africa

  • Indian_a_Jones on January 9, 2011, 7:17 GMT

    @ Christoph Groenewald. keep dreaming buddy!!!!

  • Cpt.Meanster on January 9, 2011, 1:48 GMT

    SA are a good side but I honestly cannot see them lifting the trophy in this WC. They simply don't have the skill to excel in tough sub-continental conditions. Sure they field well and bat decently enough but without a quality spinner or 2 in their ranks they will choke as they always do. Australia too don't have the quality of their predecessors to win it. England ? well they could make it to the final 4. So what does that leave us with ? India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Pakistan are unpredictable and could well be dark horses. However the favorites have to be either India or Sri Lanka but the former has a solid chance of lifting the cup on home soil. India have the class and experience of drubbing any side in home conditions. So let's wait and see for this is gonna be one heck of tournament.

  • bestbuddy on January 9, 2011, 0:40 GMT

    There is a more than able replacement in Heino Kuhn, who keeps AB from keeping for the Titans, and averages 46 in first class cricket. What SA are missing though is an attacking spinner (bring on Tahir!) and a reliable 3rd seamer; Tsotsobe has not lived up to expectations, and does not seem to have the bounce or movement to succeed consistently. SA need to be less sentimental and make changes for the good of th team. A real opener, not petersen who averages less than 5 other openers in first class cricket in SA, and a form no6 in Duminy, who is also someone for the future, not a 32 year old who hasnt hit a hundred in nearly 2 years!

  • on January 8, 2011, 22:02 GMT

    Always, Every body says India is good only on sub continental picthes. But doesn't it also mean other countries are not competetive enough on sub continental pitches? So why not we say SA and England are not good teams as they are not comptetive on Indian pitches. They are not good enough on testing conditions. As long as they are not good in India, they shouldn't be qualified for No1 Spot. What do u says guys? Is my argument invalid? Cricket is cricket every where whether it is Indian pitches or England pitches.

  • on January 8, 2011, 18:42 GMT

    We will win the World Cup with the following team: Smith, Amla, Kallis, DeVilliers, Duminy,Ingram,Botha,Parnell, Steyn, Morkel, Tahir. Parnell only if he is above 140km/h again. Otherwise Faf du Plessis.

  • mahjut on January 8, 2011, 17:58 GMT

    two (maybe 3) more things while I'm mid-rant.This author doesn't speak for all Saffer supporters. I am not expecting much from SA this WC - and have not really since 1999. There are simply and have been each WC better 1 day teams. I'm not saying it shouldn't be a goal - it absolutely should, but #1 in tests was the first goal and a worthy one they should keep striving for - if, by default, that improves their ODI team - great! Philander didn't look like making the step up to international level when he was givven a bit of a run - could be his time now but i wasn't a year or two ago. Quotas schmotas - there are enough non-white players to fill 6 slots in this team while, possibly, adding strength (Tsotsi, Prince, JP, Amla, Peterson, Parnell or Tahir) ... AB would have to keep - like Sanga or Flower (not impossible to be #1 and keeper)!! Then, apparently, Vernon for Jacques in a few years and your quotas will be within sight of needing to be reversed :):)

  • on January 8, 2011, 17:52 GMT

    this is the first time that south africa is not a serious contender for a worldcup apart from 92(when they played for the first time) hopefully this will bring some change of luck and we might see them winning this time

  • mahjut on January 8, 2011, 17:36 GMT

    Xolile, what is one's man's obvious... I think JP is a HUGE talent who will be given another chance to prove he's got over his self-doubts, but Prince has not been treated particulalry well since JP won against Oz, while prior to that he was an excellent middle order batsman and showed again 2nd/3rd test, in tricky circumstances, he is willing to fight ... for me it is NOT 'obvious'. Again, Rudolph? OK, he got 100 in Oz vs a good attack and has been performing in uk (and indeed was not treated particularly well) but had a fairly good chance to shine at test level - and didn't! Maybe not Alviro, but why not Elgar or Millar (ok, I'm not a die-hard saffer so not sure if they're openers but they're higher than 5, i think, and good) - Rudolph, like Mckenzie (who i rated), is a stop gap...not for me thanks! Tahir will be given a go ... but don't expect too much, then be happy when he performs. Hope Harry is taken to the subcontinent when they next go 'cos 'dry' left-arm slow is useful there

  • mahjut on January 8, 2011, 17:16 GMT

    no problem being the bridesmaid if you have no suitor. SA are not ready for #1. when they get there, I think it will be a good marriage - unlike the rocky one India is shotgunned to - in that they would have ironed out their kinks (or they won't get there). The kinks, as mentioned, are obvious: inability to kill. for this they'll probably need an attacking mind-set which will include replacing Harris and getting over the ill-fated declaration in oz in '03 ('04,5,6?). It was the right decision - unpredictable result (but the mentality has to be waugh's "if we lose cos someone plays a blinder - so be it, it won't happen *that* often. Ricky played an absolute blinder that day. Get over it and on with it. Consistency is not an issue with SA, demolition is!! I think Tsotsi :) bowled pretty well vs Ind (4 dropped cathes aren't going to help his figures), adding another variation (and if not him Parnell is a kid still .. growing). Spin IS a problem and although Tahir looks exciting, who knows

  • Sideburnz on January 8, 2011, 17:13 GMT

    Yes to Indian fans being myopic and Indi- centric on comments However it is frustrating to listen to Srisanth/Zaheer being compared to Steyn and Morkel - if its easier to score runs in India; it makes folks like Kapil Dev Zaheer Khan, Srinath and the entire Medium pacers much more potent than Marshall, McGrath, Steyn who have the luxury of bowling on wickets that suit bowlers.

    That Apart I think it is wonderful that there is no clear #1 2 and 3 in test cricket making it exciting for us Test Cricket aficionados - Was awesome to see Steyn bowl with venom and Tendulkar dealing with at Cape Town with 2ht 2nd new ba him my best memory of the recently concluded series

  • on January 8, 2011, 15:02 GMT

    South Africa was too aggressive with their words after their first test victory at Centurion. Shaun Pollock ruled out any chance of India comming back in the series. He predicted that , should India loose the toss at Durban it is going to be the end of the road to India. Graeme Smith also spoke something like this. But, the fact of the matter remains that India defeated South Africa in their next 3 completed innings out scorinng them everytime. It seems SA trusted in winning the toss more vital than playing. Thank god Kallis saved their blushes in the third test.

  • alexrdavies on January 8, 2011, 14:46 GMT

    Sadly for all their promise and spirit, they lost more than they won against the top teams. A missed opportunity with Australia dethroned.

    Record vs England: 1 win, 1 draw, 1 defeat -> honours even Record vs India: 3 wins, 1 draw, 5 defeats -> defeat Australia, Sri Lanka [& South Africa]: not played

  • on January 8, 2011, 14:43 GMT

    Nice to listen that India is no 1 side but it's not wrong.. that South Africa is that team who is maintaining the close gap between no 1 and 2 .

  • Point4 on January 8, 2011, 13:51 GMT

    SA going to struggle big time in WC.without a quality or even name skae spinner and slow bowlers and their batsemn struggling against spin(talikng about chasing 300+ on slow wickets without Gibbs--sa wont make it)..they will crash out may be even before the semi finals.this is a very myopic view of SA performance in 2010.they got everythin they wanted in terms of surface and home support against iondia and still could not win the series.SA best team remains the 99 WC team..And i assume this Telford bloke is a SAffer just like many myopic Indian fans..be preapared for a heart break..!!Mr Vice

  • RaghibA on January 8, 2011, 13:06 GMT

    SA could only manage to still stay in the number 2 spot (thanks to the Indians for some good show in the sub-continent). Though the Proteas will try to win the ICC World Cup 2011 to satisfy their hunger, it will be all the more difficult for them to win it in the sub-continent pitches with the like

  • Fast_Track_Bully on January 8, 2011, 11:37 GMT

    People do not had problem when Aus lost Test series to India in India and still labeled as No:1 few years back!. The same England lost Test series at home and away against India few years back. Some people have short memories.LOL

  • AdityaMookerjee on January 8, 2011, 11:24 GMT

    I feel, that among the interesting teams in the world, apart from India, are Australia, and South Africa. The make-up and atmosphere of the teams mentioned, is absolutely fascinating. However, I have not watched any series between Australia, and South Africa, with any intent. I believe the two teams to be equally matched, in talent. Tim Paine is an outstanding wicket-keeper for Australia in the future. The reason for Australia's loss of form, is that they lack cohesion as a team. The team members are not jelling around the core of some serious talent, as they did around McGrath, Gilchrist, Warne, etc. The Australian Team waxed eloquently, through it's exploits in the international cricket arena. The Indian Team has found a new found tenacity, of hanging on tightly, when in a grim situation. Perhaps, this has to do, with the the circumstances, and situations which the team finds itself in.

  • BellCurve on January 8, 2011, 10:50 GMT

    The obvious changes that need to be made to the Test side are Prince for Duminy, Petersen for Rudolph, Harris for Tahir, and Tsotsobe for either Parnell or Philander. I cannot understand why Philander doesn't feature in any of the discussions. He reminds me of Kapil Dev; a consistent top performer with both bat and ball. Moreover, he will be at the peak of his powers for the next 7 years and has done more than enough in First Class cricket to warrant selection.

  • gujratwalla on January 8, 2011, 8:13 GMT

    Good article.Don't think here is a No.1 team because England have done better.I don't rate the Indians but SA are a better team albeit needing a quality spinner and a younger wicketkeeper.With Steyn improving all the time SA should have a potentially good year ahead.

  • on January 8, 2011, 8:00 GMT

    Yes, man to man they're the closest to India, but they have to be more consistent

  • www.Evilsod.com on January 8, 2011, 4:49 GMT

    Can anyone blame them for making jokes about the umpires after this test series? South Africa were on the end of all the howlers after all. Lets call a spade a spade here.

    Also with regards to a replacement for Boucher, there is an excellent one in Kuhn. The man averages in the mid 40's with the bat in SA, which is high on our pitches for domestic cricket. He has double hundreds to his name and has represented South Africa A just as a batsmen so we could keep our quotas up with Tsolekile.

    Boucher is arguably one of the best keepers to play the game when you look at his record, but it may be time for him to go.

  • MiddleStump on January 8, 2011, 4:03 GMT

    Sorry SA. You play well but will not be number 1 until you get a world class spinner. The only time SA outplayed India was in the first innings of the first test when India played their first match on the tour without Zaheer. In every other innings India outplayed them or held their own. That is simply not good enough for SA to be number 1.

  • superrameezz on January 8, 2011, 3:52 GMT

    In-Spite of having a remarkable year, SA could only manage to still stay in the number 2 spot (thanks to the Indians for some good show in the sub-continent). Though the Proteas will try to win the ICC World Cup 2011 to satisfy their hunger, it will be all the more difficult for them to win it in the sub-continent pitches with the likes of India & Sri Lanka looking to be in Excellent Form.

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  • superrameezz on January 8, 2011, 3:52 GMT

    In-Spite of having a remarkable year, SA could only manage to still stay in the number 2 spot (thanks to the Indians for some good show in the sub-continent). Though the Proteas will try to win the ICC World Cup 2011 to satisfy their hunger, it will be all the more difficult for them to win it in the sub-continent pitches with the likes of India & Sri Lanka looking to be in Excellent Form.

  • MiddleStump on January 8, 2011, 4:03 GMT

    Sorry SA. You play well but will not be number 1 until you get a world class spinner. The only time SA outplayed India was in the first innings of the first test when India played their first match on the tour without Zaheer. In every other innings India outplayed them or held their own. That is simply not good enough for SA to be number 1.

  • www.Evilsod.com on January 8, 2011, 4:49 GMT

    Can anyone blame them for making jokes about the umpires after this test series? South Africa were on the end of all the howlers after all. Lets call a spade a spade here.

    Also with regards to a replacement for Boucher, there is an excellent one in Kuhn. The man averages in the mid 40's with the bat in SA, which is high on our pitches for domestic cricket. He has double hundreds to his name and has represented South Africa A just as a batsmen so we could keep our quotas up with Tsolekile.

    Boucher is arguably one of the best keepers to play the game when you look at his record, but it may be time for him to go.

  • on January 8, 2011, 8:00 GMT

    Yes, man to man they're the closest to India, but they have to be more consistent

  • gujratwalla on January 8, 2011, 8:13 GMT

    Good article.Don't think here is a No.1 team because England have done better.I don't rate the Indians but SA are a better team albeit needing a quality spinner and a younger wicketkeeper.With Steyn improving all the time SA should have a potentially good year ahead.

  • BellCurve on January 8, 2011, 10:50 GMT

    The obvious changes that need to be made to the Test side are Prince for Duminy, Petersen for Rudolph, Harris for Tahir, and Tsotsobe for either Parnell or Philander. I cannot understand why Philander doesn't feature in any of the discussions. He reminds me of Kapil Dev; a consistent top performer with both bat and ball. Moreover, he will be at the peak of his powers for the next 7 years and has done more than enough in First Class cricket to warrant selection.

  • AdityaMookerjee on January 8, 2011, 11:24 GMT

    I feel, that among the interesting teams in the world, apart from India, are Australia, and South Africa. The make-up and atmosphere of the teams mentioned, is absolutely fascinating. However, I have not watched any series between Australia, and South Africa, with any intent. I believe the two teams to be equally matched, in talent. Tim Paine is an outstanding wicket-keeper for Australia in the future. The reason for Australia's loss of form, is that they lack cohesion as a team. The team members are not jelling around the core of some serious talent, as they did around McGrath, Gilchrist, Warne, etc. The Australian Team waxed eloquently, through it's exploits in the international cricket arena. The Indian Team has found a new found tenacity, of hanging on tightly, when in a grim situation. Perhaps, this has to do, with the the circumstances, and situations which the team finds itself in.

  • Fast_Track_Bully on January 8, 2011, 11:37 GMT

    People do not had problem when Aus lost Test series to India in India and still labeled as No:1 few years back!. The same England lost Test series at home and away against India few years back. Some people have short memories.LOL

  • RaghibA on January 8, 2011, 13:06 GMT

    SA could only manage to still stay in the number 2 spot (thanks to the Indians for some good show in the sub-continent). Though the Proteas will try to win the ICC World Cup 2011 to satisfy their hunger, it will be all the more difficult for them to win it in the sub-continent pitches with the like

  • Point4 on January 8, 2011, 13:51 GMT

    SA going to struggle big time in WC.without a quality or even name skae spinner and slow bowlers and their batsemn struggling against spin(talikng about chasing 300+ on slow wickets without Gibbs--sa wont make it)..they will crash out may be even before the semi finals.this is a very myopic view of SA performance in 2010.they got everythin they wanted in terms of surface and home support against iondia and still could not win the series.SA best team remains the 99 WC team..And i assume this Telford bloke is a SAffer just like many myopic Indian fans..be preapared for a heart break..!!Mr Vice