India in South Africa 2010-11 January 7, 2011

Kallis, Steyn stand out

South Africa went into the series as clear favourites, and will be disappointed they could only manage a 1-1 draw against India

The pre-series talk centered on South Africa exploiting their own conditions, in particular bouncy tracks, to assert their authority. They did so in the first Test, came badly unstuck in the second and were embroiled in a tough battle in the third. Two men, Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn, stood tall. The rest have reason to be disappointed.

Graeme Smith
South Africa's captain was the bunny, the brat and the bully. His series was defined by his relationships with two Indian bowlers. His nemesis, Zaheer Khan, was able to dismiss him twice in four innings, as Smith continued to show technical ineptitude against a world class left-armer. As though that was not enough, he became a target for another Indian quick: Sreesanth. Smith's bat-waving altercation with the sledging Sreesanth was one of the defining images of the series. The bowler allegedly said something personal; Smith took the bait, and then got out.

Alviro Petersen
He played one handy knock. His 77 runs in Centurion should have been the launch pad for a string of strong scores in the series, but it wasn't. Petersen is a much prettier opener to watch than Smith. He shows class and elegance in his driving but he gets out too easily. He either goes for a drive and finds the edge, or falls victim to close catchers on the leg side. He has a lot of work to do on his technique before his next Test.

Hashim Amla
It was a quietly anti-climatic series for Amla. After notching up centuries in four consecutive matches against India and three in a calendar year, he looked set for a big series. His century in Centurion was overshadowed by Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers and that was as good as he got. Like the South Africa team itself, the Durban hoodoo followed him (he only averages 16 in Test cricket at his home ground). His aggressive 59 in Cape Town was crucial to the match but he failed to set the series alight the same way he did in India early in 2010.

Jacques Kallis
The stuff of legend. The minute Kallis removed his cap to reveal a crop of new hair, it was a sign that he would break new ground in the series. He scored his first double-hundred in Centurion, and then became the only South Africa batsman to score two centuries in a Test twice, and the first to score two centuries in a Test at home, with his heroic performance in Cape Town. He batted though pain - he will be out of the game for four weeks - and was the architect of South Africa drawing the series instead of losing it. He also became the second highest century scorer in Test cricket - with 40 hundreds - and been acknowledged as the best cricketer South Africa has ever produced.

AB de Villiers
He was unusually quiet. After scoring the fastest century by a South African, in 75 balls, in Centurion, he just about disappeared. Uncharacteristically, he dropped a few catches in Cape Town.

Ashwell Prince
P is for Pressure. Every time Prince goes out to bat, it seems as though he is playing for his place. His 39 in Durban will quickly be erased from most memories, but the patience he showed on a tough pitch while the rest of the line-up crumbled deserves some recognition.

Mark Boucher
His 103-run stand with Kallis allowed South Africa to bat their way to safety when Boucher's was the wicket that would have given India the chance to make history. The gusty 55 he scored will also go a long way to prolonging his Test career.

Paul Harris
He managed to spin a ball or three. When he does that, it's always going to be talked about. Harris got some turn in all three Tests, although it didn't always translate into wickets. He did a fine job when playing a containing role while not posing much of an attacking threat. His future Test place will depend on whether South Africa want to continue using a spinner in a defensive capacity, or opt for an attacking, wicket-taking approach.

Dale Steyn
He swung the ball with sensational success to end up as the highest wicket-taker in the series. His 21 scalps came at the outstanding average of 17.47, and he had magical spells in all three matches, none more so than the seven-over burst in Cape Town where he took two wickets for three runs. He won the contest with Virender Sehwag easily, getting the India opener out once in each match. His lines and lengths were spot on, he bowled the short ball and the follow-up to good effect, and he worked to plans well.

Morne Morkel
With height on his side, Morkel and the short ball were going to be the happily married couple of the series and the union only grew stronger. He used his height to extract bounce out of all three surfaces, which were largely bowler friendly. Morkel was exceptional in the first Test but struggled with consistency as the series wore on. He is still a best available partner to Steyn, but needs to be more disciplined.

Lonwabo Tsotsobe
He was luckless but lively. Despite having umpteen catches dropped of his bowling in the series, Tsotsobe was still able to capture all the Indian big fish. He claimed the scalps of Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and MS Dhoni, all to loose shots. Tsotsobe capitalised because he was underestimated. He was always going to look third best after Steyn and Morkel, but he toiled hard and did his best to complement them. His moment of the series was when took a blinder of a catch to dismiss VVS Laxman in Durban.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Santosh on January 8, 2011, 20:03 GMT

    Was hoping for rating on a scale of 10, like usual. I think that would be very nice.

  • Dru on January 8, 2011, 17:36 GMT

    Kallis and Steyn were in a world of their own but got no support when in counted from the rest of the team. Amla and AB hundreds on a flat track and that was it. Peiterson and Smith did nothing other than 50's on the same flat track. Morkel didnt use the conditions well despite being familiar with them. He got 5 in the fisrt test and then did not much. Harris has surely played his last test for SA. Tsotsobe gave hope at best, Prince did just about enough to get below the radar as did Boucher. For SA to take the nest step they desperately need a proper spinner.

  • shafeen on January 8, 2011, 17:08 GMT

    I'd say Steyn is the best player in the world by far - streets ahead of the next best bowler. on the batting side, Kallis, Tendulkar, Sangakkara all keep each other in balance. Agree with Gilly's rating of Kallis, but not the logic behind it. If he were Indian, he'd have to face the ridiculous pressure of the ridiculous expectations of the fans there... who knows how he would cope with it? Plus, Tendulkar averages as much away from home as on it, while there are holes in Kallis' resume as noted by nks1234. Still, i'd say the difference between the two men and Sangakkara is marginal, and all ridiculous talk about "tendulkar is god and everyone else sucks" that we see so much of is... ridiculous (i've used that word a lot in this post, haven't I?) Cheers!

  • Dummy4 on January 8, 2011, 16:25 GMT

    Kallis and Steyn were a class apart. the most memorable individuals of the test series.

  • Dummy4 on January 8, 2011, 12:56 GMT

    Kallis wears his new hair well. He is clearly on a different planet right now. It has been a pleasure to follow his career so far, an absolute giant in a world of pygmies right now

  • Manesh on January 8, 2011, 11:25 GMT

    @ Gilly67. If Kallis was an Indian, he will be criticized being selfish and going for records only, flat track bully, blah blah.... BTW, Kallis is great!. And it is a fact that India ruling world cricket at the moment. But at first it was Englsih and then the Ausis (not because of their cricketing or admin abilities but because of money power.) Not its the time of sub continent boards. Do not assume that only others can rule cricket world. It will be hard to digest..huh? As far as I know ESPN is the owners of this site and they are not an Indian company.

  • Dummy4 on January 8, 2011, 11:21 GMT

    Viru is steyn's bunny jus like smith was zaheer's, maybe more so.

  • Narinder on January 8, 2011, 9:14 GMT

    @Gilly67. At the outset I must state thet I am sure my comment wont be published since this site may be controlled by anyone but no one here likes anything in favor of Sachin to be published. You said Kallis scored w/o playing in sub continent and maintained good averages. How much he averages in the place (Australia) which was considered toughest between 1990 to 2007/2008? Kallis averages 40.58 there compared to 58.53 by Sachin. In England, where the ball seems, Kallis averages 42.70 whereas Sachin averages 62.00.

  • Akshay on January 8, 2011, 8:14 GMT

    I agree with Rahul, the rating system was more interesting to read.

  • Wayne on January 8, 2011, 6:54 GMT

    Kallis is clearly the best player in the world at the moment. Averages about the same as Tendulker (without playing on sub continent pitches every other day) and is a first class bowler and fielder as well. If he was Indian he would be a demi god.

    Alas, this probably will not be posted. We all know who controls world cricket and this site.

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