New Zealand in South Africa 2012-13 December 30, 2012

SA want ownership of No. 1 spot

After a year of tough travelling to secure their top ranking, 2013 will be slightly less demanding for South Africa but they are determined not to lose focus
  shares 124

Although 2013 holds less daunting challenges for South Africa than the previous 12 months, AB de Villiers sees it as an important phase for the team as they look to establish an era of supremacy. South Africa have seven home Tests and two in the UAE scheduled, contrasting starkly with this year where they competed in nine away matches in three countries and had just one at home.

Their upcoming opponents, New Zealand, Pakistan and India are all ranked too far below them to make any of the contests a battle of No.1, which is what South Africa played for in every series in 2012. Unless South Africa suffer a recession-like slump, the ranking is safe throughout the year which de Villiers hopes will signify the start of their reign.

"The last time we got to the No.1 spot we threw it away like it did not really matter to us," he said referring to the four months South Africa spent at the top in 2009 after Australia lost the Ashes. Then the achievement was more a result of shifts in other teams' positions, although South Africa won away series in England and Australia the season before.

Now there is a feeling of ownership of No.1 because it was earned and defended in 2012. "There is a real sense of care in the team and an amazing team spirit," de Villiers said. "If we can come through this year with solid performances, we've got a good chance to dominate around the world for the next four or five years."

With Graeme Smith deemed to have about that length of time left in his career, Jacques Kallis' niggling injuries the only thing which could prevent him from the same and the bowling unit at their peak, de Villiers thinks South Africa have the personnel to establish a legacy. "We've just got a wonderful team at the moment," he said.

De Villiers has been identified as a key component of that success by Gary Kirsten because his taking over the wicketkeeper role has created an extra spot for a No.7 batsman. Although de Villiers was reluctant to do the job at first and went on record saying he would prefer to concentrate on being "the best batsman in the world," he has since embraced both batting and keeping.

He also said his goals are no longer personal. "I want to be in a successful team that keeps the No.1 spot for a very long time and that dominates world cricket for a very long time. That's what I am after. If I can play my part in that doing that by doing well with the bat and the gloves, so be it."

De Villiers' u-turn was the cause of some consternation because it forced the selectors to renege on a commitment they made to Thami Tsolekile, who had been told he would get a chance to replace Mark Boucher. It also created debate over de Villiers' own ability to bat with the freedom and flair of old while spending hours bending his chronically bad back in the field.

After the England tour, de Villiers suffered a recurrence of his back injury. Coupled with the fact that he had not scored a single half-century since taking the gloves, there were calls for him to give up the role but he silenced those with a classy 169 against Australia in Perth. Although those runs came in the match where de Villiers spent the least amount of time in the field, he said it was an indication that he is capable of performing in both departments.

All it needed, he believed, was time for the adjustment of a dual role. "At first it was tough but I've got into a nice rhythm now," he said. "It took me a while to get into that but now I feel I understand what my role is. I spend time on keeping and batting in training and I don't feel tired after a day's play. I don't feel tired after a Test match. It's more a mental thing than anything else. The fatigue factor is nonsense. It's more a concentration thing."

To keep de Villiers fresh, Cricket South Africa agreed to his request to sit out the Twenty20 series against New Zealand, especially after he complained of tiredness following the domestic one-day cup play-off. De Villiers hinted there will be more of the same in future limited-overs contests, even though he captains in those formats.

"It's all about managing your energy levels and injuries and niggles and also keeping the passion for the game and the hunger to succeed and do well," he explained. "We play a lot of cricket in the year and we are in a situation where we really need to manage it. Some of our guys are getting a bit older and we really have to look after them if we want to maintain the No.1 ranking in Tests."

De Villiers said the break has done him so much good that he is now, "refreshed, energised and hungrier than ever." The Test team have not played in front of home fans since January and the players are particularly looking forward to this summer.

"Playing at Newlands is as special as they come and I'll enjoy this New Year's Test even more," de Villiers said. "We've got a good sense of confidence when we play there. It's almost like we just free up and express ourselves."

South Africa have not lost a Test in Cape Town since 2006 and many of the squad call the venue their favourite because of the large support base there. As proof of that, only 3,000 tickets are still available for the first day of the Test.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Cricket_archive on | December 31, 2012, 16:11 GMT

    I have no dout that SA are the best test side in the world.As they have the best batting line up which can score runs in any conditions specially amla,kallis & AB makes the formidable middle order and the deadly bowling attack of steyn.morkel and philander who are dangerous on even the flattest of pitches and are also the exceptional fielding side.key for SA is to be consistent next year. one thing is for sure that pakistan will be thrashed easily by Sa as their batsmen dont have the temperament of facing bowlers like steyn causing heavy defeats for them and South african batsmen are capable enough to face the inexperienced bowling attack of pak.

  • POSTED BY Prabhash1985 on | December 31, 2012, 14:21 GMT

    I always believed South Africans are the best in the business, no matter it's limited over cricket or Test Cricket... They are a genuine side. Genuine batsmen, genuine quickies, incredible fielders... and very good spinners... What a balanced side they are... So, they deserve their top position... It's nice to watch those gentlemen play graceful cricket, with a great commitment and spirit... I always loved to see Alan Donald, Makaya, Shaun Pollock, Dale Stane bowl... That's a beauty to watch, aggression, bounce, speed...

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2013, 14:03 GMT

    Saffers only have 2 problems to consider at the moment - find a decent spinner and find a replacement for Kallis. Losing kallis will alter the whole balance of the side.

  • POSTED BY Boodah on | January 2, 2013, 12:34 GMT

    i wrote a response to this yesterday, but obviously i didn't need to... philander did all the talking today... silence please - genius at work ;)

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2013, 7:09 GMT

    While SA have not been playing at the top of their game, they are still ahead of the rest, with much room for improvement.

  • POSTED BY Safalicious on | January 2, 2013, 5:16 GMT

    Well if I am to sum up the comments here, SA are #1 despite not being at the top of their game, putting in some lacklusture performances and with a few players fading from past heights. They have been lucky to save some games, but those they won were deserved. I hope that sums the comments up fairly.

    Great teams dont win every game, even the great Aussie and Windies teams lost the odd game. Even they scraped a draw against all odds. I think it is a sign of a great team to save teats that they should have lost by all rights, and SA are consistently able to do that when needed.

    What is really exciting is that SA have done so well despite Steyn bowling more within himself, Kallis hardly bowling, Morkel underperforming and Philander being limited and one dimensional. This merely means we are on top for the long haul because we will need to be abysmal to lose to anyone. Imagine what will happen if they really click!

  • POSTED BY dalboy12 on | January 1, 2013, 23:26 GMT

    I think fair enough that SA #1, but I won't say daylight is second --- things are quite close at the moment between teams. It will be interesting to see how Aussie and Pakistan play away from home conditions (Sub-con i mean for Pak who i realise unfortunately don't get to play at home). As a Kiwi, I'm bit scared about what is going happen in the upcoming tests, with SA keen to show why they are #1 to their home fans. Only hope is that NZ pull of one of their surprise upsets. Have to disagree with comments about Philander - the guy is a class bowler, he had success for while now, and i think SA really missed him in the second test in Aussie. The difference between Steyn and Philander in perth and the earlier tests wasn't just about more pace in Perth, it was about less bad balls. Steyn especially was bowling four balls at a rate very unusual for him (helped by Clark great batting). In Perth the four balls went and they could build pressure.

  • POSTED BY Boodah on | January 1, 2013, 22:40 GMT

    dear lillian thank you for your 'opinions'... i think your assessment of sa's bowling attack is pretty poor. 1) world bowling rankings, #1 Dale Steyn, #2 Vernon Philander. Philander's figures for 2012: 9 matches, 328 overs, 75 maidens, 908 runs, 43 wickets at an average of 21.11, with an economy of 2.76 - 3x5 wicket hauls, 1x10 wicket haul. If you think that's not a world beater, then I hate to think what is. SA are the strongest team in world cricket, because as a unit, they are (when injury free) the most balanced side on the planet - which is why nobody has beaten them for so long. In Australia, we ended a world class batsman's career (ponting) because our bowlers made him look so poor, and in england, we ended their captain's career because they got a hiding in their own back yard. Please dont pontificate about SA - the stats, results and performance of the team prove you wrong, very wrong. As a kiwi, you might not enjoy the next 5 days of test cricket, but I know I will.

  • POSTED BY Sanjiyan on | January 1, 2013, 12:07 GMT

    @LillianThomson on (January 01 2013, 03:44 AM GMT), I dont think you actually play cricket. As an allrounder i can tell you that batting and bowling on a spicy pitch is completely different to a flat track. While the overall batting averages are higher than the pre 90's and the bowling averages are lower you shouldnt forget that pitches back then were, in general, bowler friendly. Overall pitches these days only have something in them for fast bowlers on the first day(usually morning). If one has to bowl all day its not strange to see him bowl within himself especially when theres nothing there. I'm sure it slipped your mind that Steyns speeds are up when hes got something going on. Same goes for any other fast bowler really.

  • POSTED BY LillianThomson on | January 1, 2013, 11:36 GMT

    @ SurlyCynic,

    Happy New Year to you too!

    I'm very fond of South Africa, and I don't want to sound too critical, and I intend my criticism to be constructive.

    I think they played to the absolute limit of their potential in 2012, and I salute their away wins although I think they deserved a drawn series in Australia. (And as a Kiwi it hurts to say that!)

    But I am still unconvinced by Vernon Philander, who seems quite limited to me: a very accurate bowler, but neither quick enough nor tall enough to remain a world beater. And I'm totally convinced that Rory Kleinveldt is not a Test bowler - I don't think he'd get into any state side in Australia.

    Lastly, the track record for short, skiddy fast bowlers when they lose their pace is not great: the latter years of Waqar Younis and Danny Morrison were like watching Paul Jarvis bowl. I think Allan Donald should be focusing on Steyn bowling four 4 over spells per day in Test cricket, but in the upper 140Ks. He is ordinary at 135K.

  • POSTED BY Cricket_archive on | December 31, 2012, 16:11 GMT

    I have no dout that SA are the best test side in the world.As they have the best batting line up which can score runs in any conditions specially amla,kallis & AB makes the formidable middle order and the deadly bowling attack of steyn.morkel and philander who are dangerous on even the flattest of pitches and are also the exceptional fielding side.key for SA is to be consistent next year. one thing is for sure that pakistan will be thrashed easily by Sa as their batsmen dont have the temperament of facing bowlers like steyn causing heavy defeats for them and South african batsmen are capable enough to face the inexperienced bowling attack of pak.

  • POSTED BY Prabhash1985 on | December 31, 2012, 14:21 GMT

    I always believed South Africans are the best in the business, no matter it's limited over cricket or Test Cricket... They are a genuine side. Genuine batsmen, genuine quickies, incredible fielders... and very good spinners... What a balanced side they are... So, they deserve their top position... It's nice to watch those gentlemen play graceful cricket, with a great commitment and spirit... I always loved to see Alan Donald, Makaya, Shaun Pollock, Dale Stane bowl... That's a beauty to watch, aggression, bounce, speed...

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2013, 14:03 GMT

    Saffers only have 2 problems to consider at the moment - find a decent spinner and find a replacement for Kallis. Losing kallis will alter the whole balance of the side.

  • POSTED BY Boodah on | January 2, 2013, 12:34 GMT

    i wrote a response to this yesterday, but obviously i didn't need to... philander did all the talking today... silence please - genius at work ;)

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2013, 7:09 GMT

    While SA have not been playing at the top of their game, they are still ahead of the rest, with much room for improvement.

  • POSTED BY Safalicious on | January 2, 2013, 5:16 GMT

    Well if I am to sum up the comments here, SA are #1 despite not being at the top of their game, putting in some lacklusture performances and with a few players fading from past heights. They have been lucky to save some games, but those they won were deserved. I hope that sums the comments up fairly.

    Great teams dont win every game, even the great Aussie and Windies teams lost the odd game. Even they scraped a draw against all odds. I think it is a sign of a great team to save teats that they should have lost by all rights, and SA are consistently able to do that when needed.

    What is really exciting is that SA have done so well despite Steyn bowling more within himself, Kallis hardly bowling, Morkel underperforming and Philander being limited and one dimensional. This merely means we are on top for the long haul because we will need to be abysmal to lose to anyone. Imagine what will happen if they really click!

  • POSTED BY dalboy12 on | January 1, 2013, 23:26 GMT

    I think fair enough that SA #1, but I won't say daylight is second --- things are quite close at the moment between teams. It will be interesting to see how Aussie and Pakistan play away from home conditions (Sub-con i mean for Pak who i realise unfortunately don't get to play at home). As a Kiwi, I'm bit scared about what is going happen in the upcoming tests, with SA keen to show why they are #1 to their home fans. Only hope is that NZ pull of one of their surprise upsets. Have to disagree with comments about Philander - the guy is a class bowler, he had success for while now, and i think SA really missed him in the second test in Aussie. The difference between Steyn and Philander in perth and the earlier tests wasn't just about more pace in Perth, it was about less bad balls. Steyn especially was bowling four balls at a rate very unusual for him (helped by Clark great batting). In Perth the four balls went and they could build pressure.

  • POSTED BY Boodah on | January 1, 2013, 22:40 GMT

    dear lillian thank you for your 'opinions'... i think your assessment of sa's bowling attack is pretty poor. 1) world bowling rankings, #1 Dale Steyn, #2 Vernon Philander. Philander's figures for 2012: 9 matches, 328 overs, 75 maidens, 908 runs, 43 wickets at an average of 21.11, with an economy of 2.76 - 3x5 wicket hauls, 1x10 wicket haul. If you think that's not a world beater, then I hate to think what is. SA are the strongest team in world cricket, because as a unit, they are (when injury free) the most balanced side on the planet - which is why nobody has beaten them for so long. In Australia, we ended a world class batsman's career (ponting) because our bowlers made him look so poor, and in england, we ended their captain's career because they got a hiding in their own back yard. Please dont pontificate about SA - the stats, results and performance of the team prove you wrong, very wrong. As a kiwi, you might not enjoy the next 5 days of test cricket, but I know I will.

  • POSTED BY Sanjiyan on | January 1, 2013, 12:07 GMT

    @LillianThomson on (January 01 2013, 03:44 AM GMT), I dont think you actually play cricket. As an allrounder i can tell you that batting and bowling on a spicy pitch is completely different to a flat track. While the overall batting averages are higher than the pre 90's and the bowling averages are lower you shouldnt forget that pitches back then were, in general, bowler friendly. Overall pitches these days only have something in them for fast bowlers on the first day(usually morning). If one has to bowl all day its not strange to see him bowl within himself especially when theres nothing there. I'm sure it slipped your mind that Steyns speeds are up when hes got something going on. Same goes for any other fast bowler really.

  • POSTED BY LillianThomson on | January 1, 2013, 11:36 GMT

    @ SurlyCynic,

    Happy New Year to you too!

    I'm very fond of South Africa, and I don't want to sound too critical, and I intend my criticism to be constructive.

    I think they played to the absolute limit of their potential in 2012, and I salute their away wins although I think they deserved a drawn series in Australia. (And as a Kiwi it hurts to say that!)

    But I am still unconvinced by Vernon Philander, who seems quite limited to me: a very accurate bowler, but neither quick enough nor tall enough to remain a world beater. And I'm totally convinced that Rory Kleinveldt is not a Test bowler - I don't think he'd get into any state side in Australia.

    Lastly, the track record for short, skiddy fast bowlers when they lose their pace is not great: the latter years of Waqar Younis and Danny Morrison were like watching Paul Jarvis bowl. I think Allan Donald should be focusing on Steyn bowling four 4 over spells per day in Test cricket, but in the upper 140Ks. He is ordinary at 135K.

  • POSTED BY SurlyCynic on | January 1, 2013, 10:24 GMT

    LillianThomson: You may claim to be a 'cricket lover' and not a troll, but if another team had an unbeaten year and won away series in England and Aus, and I went onto their article on Cricinfo and began my comment with 'xxx were predominantly a lucky team', I think I would deserve to be labeled a troll. You mention the weakest performances of SA's year and ignore a lot of the quality and effort they produced.

    I agree with some of your points that it wasn't SA's best year in terms of bowling, but when you say that SA can only bat well I think it ignores the pitches prepared which included some very flat ones. I thought the bowling performance on the road at the Oval was amazing, as was Perth apart from the last wicket slogging. And when the bowlers couldn't get teams out on flat tracks (Oh for a Warnie!) then our batsmen ensured we couldn't be beaten. Which is the risk the hosts took in preparing the flat tracks, ie Adelaide. Happy New Year anyway.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    Secondly, your story about SA's "luck" and the narrowness of their wins conveniently ignores several things which went against SA. In Aus, in the first test, SA lost an in-form middle order batsman who was also our best part-time spin option and played both innings with 10 men; and, in the second test, SA lost almost their entire pace attack (Kallis, Steyn, Philander) on the first day! To salvage draws with both of those significant disadvantages was no mean feat, and should surely be counted in SA's favour. How "narrow" would those games have been if those things hadn't happened?

    Your account of what happened at Lords is also strange. You take the margin of victory (51 runs) to show that the match could easily have gone the other way. Anyone who remembers the game will tell you that's disingenuous. England faced a certain draw and home series loss, so Prior and Swann batted recklessly and scored quickly against the old ball. This ended quickly when the new ball came.

  • POSTED BY LillianThomson on | January 1, 2013, 10:01 GMT

    @Amandla Mabona I don't think that South Africa's attack is weak, just not particularly strong.

    In 2012 I watched the Wellington Test, where with 80 overs to bowl out NZ we saw Morkel bag six wickets while Steyn, Philander and de Lange got zero between them.

    Leeds has a decent surface to, and they couldn't bowl England out.

    Then, on a normal Gabba track in Brisbane on which SA's combined total was 616 for 15 wickets, they let Australia amass 565-5 declared.

    In the next match, on a normal Adelaide track, SA lost 16 wickets for 636 runs but bowled Australia out once for 550.

    I spent an awful lot of hours in 2012 watching South Africa's bowlers failing to get people out.

    And two common features were Kallis hardly getting anyone out all year and a much slower-then-previously Steyn struggling to dismiss batsmen.

    You might not see the signs, but I do. And in the absence of only de Lange they were reduced to playing Kleinveldt as a Test bowler, which was extraordinary.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2013, 9:40 GMT

    I don't know about your 600-runs-a-match rule of thumb, but I think team bowling averages are a fair measure of how a team bowled in a series. SA's averages in England and Australia were 33.1 and 43.4 respectively. Both Aus and WI had comparable or worse averages in a series several times. For example, WI averaged 50.3 against India in 1978 and 46 against Aus in 1973; and Aus averaged 40.8 against NZ in 2002, and 48.7, 49.2 and 48.7 against India in 1998, 2004 and 2008 respectively.

    You commit the same fallacy of comparing career-wide figures to a particularly bad year when you contrast Steyn to Marshall. Yes, Steyn has had two poor series against Aus and Eng (averages of 29.2 and 30.83 respectively). Marshall had several comparable series (e.g. Eng '80 (29.06), NZ '87 (32.11), Aus '88 (28.07) Eng '89 (44)). Even for the best players, form comes and goes, and I think it's strange to write Steyn off after probably the single most difficult year of his career.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2013, 9:14 GMT

    @LilianThomson. Your main arguments against South Africa's chance of a long stay at the top seem to be: (1) that their bowling attack is weak, (2) that there isn't as big a gap between them and their competitors as WI and Aus had, and (3) that Kallis's retirement (in the next two years) will significantly weaken them.

    I'll address your points one-by-one. Generally, I find your arguments unconvincing because (1) you ignored relevant information when assessing SA's recent performance, and (2) you didn't make a fair comparison of SA and WI - you compared specific SA performances (against their toughest opposition!) to WI's overall record, as if WI played uniformly well every single game and series.

    Firstly, in assessing SA's bowling this year, you've ignored that their two series (ignoring NZ) were played against their strongest opposition, away from home where the opposition could (and did) prepare unsporting wickets to neutralise the attack.

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | January 1, 2013, 7:30 GMT

    While I think the Proteas are unquestionably the top team at present, I don't think that this is the best SA team ever. The 69/70 team that whitewashed Australia was a truly great team, and would have posed a serious challenge to the great Windies. Unfortunately, the Apartheid policies of the then minority government denied us that matchup. (For the record I both saw the last series they played, and supported the sporting isolation.)

    I think that the current team may go on to achieve a greater status. There are a few years left in the current lineup - Kallis will play on for several years - giving the opportunity for the building a confident, winning team culture. Whether SA can produce the talent - particularly bowling - to carry the baton remains to be seen. SA could be at the beginning of a period of real dominance, and are certainly the only current team showing that potential. Eng can't rely on a continued supply of SA batsmen, & Aus has no set core players. Will be interesting!

  • POSTED BY LillianThomson on | January 1, 2013, 3:44 GMT

    @Ragrant What on earth do you mean by "records are being broken everywhere"?

    The only records being broken are of quantity, not quality. All that tells us is that players play more matches, which we know already.

    Batting averages are generally higher - which reflects poor bowling - but tellingly the best players have actually have much lower averages than past greats did, even Kallis and Tendulkar have averages around 10 runs higher than their peers, whereas Pollock and Barry Richards averaged 30 more than their peers and Viv Richards averaged 15 more than his peers, which included his faded final 3 years.

    Similarly, Anderson and Steyn are lauded for a 2012 in which they took their wickets are an average nearly 50% worse than Marshall, Hadlee, Garner et al.

    But to be honest, any of us who have watched cricket for decades don't need averages to tell us that international cricketers now have far worse techniques than their predecessors. We can see that with the naked eye.

  • POSTED BY LillianThomson on | January 1, 2013, 2:04 GMT

    @Greatest_Game

    The Australia v South Africa series was not played on unusual wickets.

    In the First Test at Brisbane, South Africa was saved defeat by the weather: an entire day was lost and they finished 56 runs ahead with 4 wickets left.

    In the Second Test, on the usual flat Adelaide wicket, SA was saved by FAF du Plessis' brilliant knock in the final innings against an Australia whose best bowler could not bowl, which wore out and slowed down the others.

    In the Final Test, 3 days later, Australia went into the game without any of their three first choice quicks, equivalent to SA without Steyn, Philander and Morkel.

    My observation is this: for several years SA had a lethal attack. Now they have a good but far from great one.

    If Messi and Aguero were suspended from the 2014 World Cup we would identify Argentina as understrength and query the winner's strength. Cricket is no different, and the criminal stupidity of Asif and Amir weakens Pakistan, but doesn't make SA great.

  • POSTED BY Marcio on | January 1, 2013, 1:44 GMT

    @toxicbite, it's snarling, bitter, personal attacks like yours that have turned this site into a sham. It is beyond me why you can't stick to the topic and articles relevant to yoor interests. That's what I do, and the only exception is making fun of the odd troll. In contrast there are way too many folks here who deliberately troll the boards and articles of other teams and post nothing but hatred. It is now impossible to post a considered opinion here without being ridiculed by emotionally delayed individuals who have no actual interest in the subject at hand. Cricinfo needs to look at this if it wants genuine posters to contribute here. I won't be one of them, I'm happy to say. Maybe I'll check back in 6 months or a year to see if anything has changed.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2013, 0:58 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge on (December 30 2012, 14:43 PM GMT)

    Make up your mind whether the pitches in India are "minefields" or "roads"? The structure and behaviour of the two types are very different, as you have indicated in your post (indiectly). One is more suitable for the bowlers & the other favours batsmen. Over a period of time, you seem to be switching back and forth. Either you don't know (a) the facts, (b) the difference between the two, or (c) you are just putting a label for criticism's sake.

    Incidentally, a few Indian pitches used to be 'mine fields' in the PAST. Now-a -days, most of them are 'roads'. If the curator is angry at the captain, once in a while they prepare 'grass tops' too. (One curator did that a few years ago, forcing Captain Ganguly to sit out that match, in protest). So, you just can't generalize.

    You are just moving the Front- Foot away from the line and just Lunging at the ball, hoping that it may go for the maximum. Good luck to you.

  • POSTED BY Phat-Boy on | January 1, 2013, 0:06 GMT

    Hang on, so the people wanting to discuss 'facts' are happy to bring up England dropping a catch here or there but have no problem ignoring the fact that Cowan was caught off a no-ball when he was on about 40 in Brisbane, or that Clarke popped about five edges into vacant land in Adelaide, two of which came in the space of three overs while he was in his 50s, or that Warner sent an edge over slip on 20 in Adelaide, Clarke had a leading edge lob over point and a top edge just over mid-on before he'd reached 50 in Brisbane?

  • POSTED BY Shan156 on | December 31, 2012, 22:31 GMT

    @Toxicbite, please point me to my post where I made any excuses for England's defeat. I have made quite a few posts in this article but nowhere have I mentioned that SA didn't deserve their victory. I have mentioned almost in each and every post that SA thoroughly deserve their #1 ranking and their victories in England and Australia were significant. The only thing I mentioned is that England are a better team than their performance suggested in that series. That does not mean we are a better team than SA or we didn't deserve those defeats or SA doesn't deserve their victories. And yes, perhaps SA didn't play to their full potential either. SA won, England lost, period. SA have not suffered a series defeat for a long time and are ranked higher than England and are clearly a better side than England. IDK if we are a bunch of whingers (I am most definitely not) but you really need a crash course on reading comprehension. Either that or you probably are suffering from some complexa

  • POSTED BY WAKE_UP_CALL on | December 31, 2012, 21:27 GMT

    i was not surrised when eng won 2-1 in india coz i thought in uae 3-0 whitewash was not like us indians faced in eng and aus.eng were always close to win matches which their batsmen failed to do so.but their improvement made me hint to the fact that after loosing in uae and then drawing in sri lanka they would win in india (also part thanks to pathtic mindset of previous selectors to going back for such over hyped stars).when eng almost pulled off that chase on the fifth day without kp it was pretty clear that this team has never say die attitude which can only resemble to its opponent who showed in adelaide on the fifth day thanks to du plessis.why i say these are the teams to watch for coz there is always someone who takes the responsibility when the shit hits the fan in eng case was monty who out from nowhere changed the whole series for england.Aus once had such impact players when they were dominating whether it was gilchrist at no.7 or martyn (underestimated player of that Aus er

  • POSTED BY WAKE_UP_CALL on | December 31, 2012, 21:14 GMT

    To a apodictic fan SA and ENG and are the two top teams in the contemporary cricket world.Though it would be a massive mistake by underestimating AUS who will surely bounce back to dominate as they have the most competitive domestic structure in the world.ENG under cook (potenial to threaten test records since being so young)swann.finn,anderson(i witnessed brilliant art of reverse swing after akram and waqar),peterson(destructive in bouncy and spinning pitches),matt prior(the most underestimated wk/bat)eng will challenge every opposition anywhere in the world.on the other hand SA with only one weakness(unfound wk/bat in tests) will likely to dominate even after kallis retires as they always have knack of producing potential all rounders.AUS true colours will be revealed when they tour india and england which i believe eng has shown by winning and SA who have twice drawn the series in india.

  • POSTED BY Toxicbite on | December 31, 2012, 21:02 GMT

    @Shan156, all teams can claim that after being beaten like the Poms did. S.A didn't play to their full potential either but the supporters settled for what they got. You were beaten fair and square. The sooner you accept that, the better. let's not forget the awful year the Poms have had please. Btw, how funny that Swann's "injury" only gets gets mentioned when he's not taking any wickets! Buch of whingers!

  • POSTED BY Shan156 on | December 31, 2012, 20:06 GMT

    In other words, @SurlyCynic, the distance between SA and second placed Eng. now is not that big as it was between Aus./WI and whoever was #2 in their reign. Also, Aus. at their peak also won three world cups in a row and were finalists in the tournament before that. WI won 2 and were finalists in the one after that. Definitely not saying that ODI performances matter more than tests but that is how good they were. SA have the ability surely but have some way to go. Also, I think it is quite good for cricket that teams consistently challenge for the #1 spot rather than one team reigning supreme all the time. I truly believe that England are much better than what they displayed last summer against SA and think that they will put up a much better show when they meet again. Aus. needs to find some good batsmen and India some bowlers. Pakistan are a mercurial side and on their day can beat anyone anywhere.

  • POSTED BY Shan156 on | December 31, 2012, 20:00 GMT

    @SurlyCynic, granted there are no comments in this article that proclaim SA as the best ever. But, there were such comments after SA's series wins in Eng. and Aus. Not just SA fans, but most sensible fans would agree that SA are the best team atm and the rankings that have SA at 123 points and England second best at 118 points is fully valid. The fact is SA haven't lost a test this year and have been undefeated in a series for a long time, ifs and buts don't hold water. No questions on their #1 ranking but, have SA won consistently at home to be considered way ahead of the pack like Aus did when they were at their peak? I think that is what @Ragav999 is asking and I think that is a valid question. He/She doesn't dispute the fact that SA is deserving #1 but how far ahead are they? England's home record other than the SA series is very good - convincing wins against all oppositions. Just because they lost a home series to a better side doesn't make their record poor.

  • POSTED BY SurlyCynic on | December 31, 2012, 19:14 GMT

    @Shan156: I don't know any SA fan who thinks SA are the 'best ever'. Don't see any comments here to that effect either. I do know plenty of SA fans who think SA had a good year, deserve to be #1 after not losing a test in 2012, and that winning away series in England and Aus was not 'lucky'.

    Ragav's point that SA play well away and other teams play well at home makes no sense, given that England and Aus have both just lost 'home' series (against SA) and India lost at home to England.

  • POSTED BY Toxicbite on | December 31, 2012, 19:07 GMT

    @Marcio, you're one of the biggest trolls here so please don't make of laugh. You're also obviously still stuck in the past. Move on man! There are 2 teams way better than Australia right now- FACT. Can't wait to watch you lose the Ashes(again! haha!) pfft :)

  • POSTED BY Syed_imran_abbas on | December 31, 2012, 18:34 GMT

    I am looking forward to coming test series between SA vs Pak. As i think its going to be a good contest. Both teams are quite balance and they have some success last years. Obviously SA is going to be fav's but trust me its going to be a good series.

  • POSTED BY Shan156 on | December 31, 2012, 18:23 GMT

    @Ragav999's point is valid and is reason enough why SA cannot be considered alongside the likes of WI of 80s and the great Aussie sides. Aus, at their peak, beat all nations home and away. SA have not been able to win their last home series against India, England, and Australia. They even dropped a test against SL. They may reconsider hosting tests in Durban:-) That is in stark contrast to the great teams of the past. SA's wins in Aus. and Eng. are creditable but there is still lot of work to do - winning consistently at home and winning series in Ind. and SL. SA fans can delude themselves if they think they are already the best ever.

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2012, 18:22 GMT

    The Proteas has not lost an away series since 2006, how many teams have achieved that? By England beating India, do we say that India was weak or England did what was required for victory or any other match up for that matter? By not overcoming an opponent, can you be regarded as better than that opponent?

    The Australia-South Africa series resembled a boxing match, where Perth was the knock-out blow!

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | December 31, 2012, 18:04 GMT

    @ Lillian Thompson Your "rule-of-thumb" analysis completely ignores playing conditions, as if all tests were played on some identical, artificial surface. Your rule-of-thumb is about as useful as Imran Tahir in Australia. How does that rule-of-thumb apply to 47 all out. Saffer bowlers are really weak, huh?

    In 2012 England and Australia prepared dead wickets to try to negate SA's superior pace bowling. On flat tracks your rule-of-thumb is a joke. At the Oval it backfired when Eng managed 2 wickets. Backfired on Aus too when despite SA playing with 10 men & no spinner in the 1st test, Aus could not take 20 wickets. In Adelaide SA had one useless spinner leaking runs, & was a bowler down with Kallis injured. In both matches, on flat tracks, with a depleted attack, your rule-of-thumb looks more like rule-of-dumb!

    On the one wicket with pace & bounce, SA's attack destroyed Oz, with bat and ball. Nuff said. Eng managed 1 weather impacted draw. SA did not lose a single match. QED.

  • POSTED BY PDV1 on | December 31, 2012, 18:03 GMT

    mukesh_LOVE.cricket - Strange how you talk about the injury concerns Australia had against SAbut don't mention the fact that the Proteas lost Duminy, Kallis (bowling) and Philander during the series as well. Dale Steyn was also carrying a slight injury. The Proteas showed great character to overcome those setbacks and, once they blunted the Aussie attack, landed the knockout blow. Winning a series is about playing the crucial sessions well, which is what SA did. Even Michael Clarke admitted the Proteas deserved the series win.

  • POSTED BY Shan156 on | December 31, 2012, 18:02 GMT

    @toolarny, I see what you mean but as I mentioned it is a tradition that Aus. and Eng. always clash over a 5 test series. Certain things cannot be changed. Even during the dark days for an England fan (1989 through 2005), Aus. regularly whipped Eng. but we still played 5 tests and, here and there, won a dead rubber:-) It is something that I don't see changing despite the rigorous schedule. Re: SA, I remember when they were #2 and played #1 Australia, it was always billed as the clash for the title of the best team in the world and, inevitably, it was Aus. who always prevailed. In fact, India posed the biggest challenge for the then Aussie team. Many of us felt bad that last year's marquee series between these two sides was limited to just 2 tests but I believe it was not because of the ICC but because CSA wanted to play only 2 tests. RSA plays less tests than other top teams.

  • POSTED BY Ragav999 on | December 31, 2012, 17:56 GMT

    @SurlyCynic: Where did I mention that SA did not deserve to win the series in England and Aus? SA are slightly better than Eng and Aus.

    Just because they did not lose an overseas series for more than 6 years does not make them a very superior or a great side. The reason for this is their inconsistent performances in their own home soil. Their wins/total matches played ratio is not setting the world on fire to be considered a great side. In my opinion, the %win ratio is an important parameter for judging a team's greatnesss. You or anyone else may disagree and may have some other criteria.

    In fact, even I acknowledged their abilities to be equivalent of the great Aussie teams under Waugh and Ponting since their reentry into international cricket.

    SA is probably 5-15% better than the other teams right now. Just because other teams are doing poorly away and well at home and SA is doing it the other way around, it does not make them worthy of the great team tag.

  • POSTED BY SurlyCynic on | December 31, 2012, 17:41 GMT

    mikey76: Perhaps SA would have more 'depth' at their disposal if so much of it wasn't playing in England and NZ. Having said that, the likes of Morris, De Lange and De Kock makes me hopeful for the future.

  • POSTED BY tokoloshe on | December 31, 2012, 17:29 GMT

    Stats count for little Marcio..... It is and always will be the final result that counts. Thats what test cricket such a great sport. You can be bashed for 4 days and one massive rearguard can keep your team alive and if you cant appreciate that you are not a true cricket fan and have little knowledge of the game.

  • POSTED BY toolarny on | December 31, 2012, 17:16 GMT

    @Shan156 My point is, SA are #1 and when they haven't been at the top, they've been 2nd for a long time yet they are still not assigned an iconic Test Series! I remember a time when a certain series between Aus and SA was billed "The best of the best vs the best of the rest". England were ranked 5th at the time yet still played 5 match Ashes series against the best of the best!

  • POSTED BY SurlyCynic on | December 31, 2012, 17:07 GMT

    @Marcio & Ragav: I have no problem with 'intelligent debate', but I believe SA deserve credit for winning in both Aus and England in a year, and stating that they were merely 'lucky' doesn't seem like reasonable debate to me - for a start it ignores all the efforts they put in to withstand pressure during difficult moments, and seize the advantage when on top.

    LillianThomson's 'facts' include stating that SA's bowlers are mediocre and that they are only decent at batting, quoting the 600 runs conceded in two innings at the Oval as an example. But the real fact is that this was one of the flattest tracks ever, on which SA scored 600-2. Bowling out England twice on that track to win the test was arguably more impressive that bowling out Aus for 47. So please excuse me if I appreciate my team's excellent performances this year, and disagree with this so called analysis which does come across as trolling.

  • POSTED BY mikey76 on | December 31, 2012, 17:06 GMT

    England will regain No.1 spot in the coming 18 months or so. We have a far greater depth in talent at our disposal than SA and have match winning spinners, something which SA completely lack. SA deserve where they are now, no doubt. But it wont last years and years like the the past great WI sides or the Aus sides of 1993-2005.

  • POSTED BY Sinhaya on | December 31, 2012, 17:04 GMT

    South Africa are simply brilliant not to have lost a test series away since losing to Sri Lanka 2-0 in 2006 August. Well I wish if SA toured Sri Lanka in July 2013, but sadly the tests are postponed till 2015 June. SLC not putting any value towards test cricket with such awful decisions like not playing the scheduled tests against SA as per the ICC FTP.

  • POSTED BY mukesh_LOVE.cricket on | December 31, 2012, 16:55 GMT

    SA is good not as great as everyone is making them out to be.. yes they won in England and Australia but a bit more closer analysis and and its clear that some below average slip catching by England and injury to almost all the first choice pacemen of Australia really helped them , Australia actually dominated for the most part of series , but just couldn't finish it off.

  • POSTED BY Shan156 on | December 31, 2012, 16:49 GMT

    @KiwiRocker, Surely you must know that the rankings are not based on how each team play Pakistan in the UAE. It is based on their performances against all teams home and away. How many away series have Pak. won in the last few years? Lost to SA 1-2, England 1-3, Aus 0-3, Ind 0-1, SL 0-1 (0-2 in 2009). They drew 1-1 against WI and only beat NZ 1-0. That is not just a mediocre record but an outright poor away record. When was the last time Pak. managed to beat Aus. in Aus. in a single test, leave alone a series? How do you expect Pak. to be ranked higher than SA, Eng., and Aus. is beyond me?

  • POSTED BY Ragav999 on | December 31, 2012, 16:37 GMT

    @LillianThomson: Most of the SA fans out here don't like anybody pointing out the facts when they feel that their team's moment in the sun has finally arrived after years of despair, hope, agony and anguish. With the kind of the team they have had since 1992, they should have dominated world cricket almost as much as the Aussies did. But they did not. The hardcore fanatics of SA could not digest it. Now anything from an innocuous comment to unbiased analysis of facts from clear heads is inviting anger and hostility from the SA fans. I have not seen such responses which are more representative of fans from India and England in particular. This may have something to do with insecurity of losing the No.1 position in Tests or not being acknowledged the as a "great team". Having said that, there is a probability that Philander will improve with experience and become a better bowler with average of around 25-26. Morkel is a decent bowler (avg > 30) and anyone thinking otherwise is in denial.

  • POSTED BY Shan156 on | December 31, 2012, 16:36 GMT

    @Highflyer_GP, the Windies attack was an exception because they had more quality fast bowlers at the same time than any other team in history - Marshall, Roberts, Holding, Garner backed by Croft, Davis, Daniel and followed by Ambrose, Walsh, Bishop. With the amount of international cricket played these days with more teams and more varying conditions, it is also important to get your rotation in place and variety in your attack. Tell me, which team has this many quality fast bowlers in the first choice as well as in the bench. Australia's dominance was as much, if not more, due to Warne as McGrath. For SA to win a series in India and SL, they probably are going to need a good spinner or two. Their batting will ensure that they won't lose but Styen, Morkel, Philander, and Kallis alone are not going to get them 20 wickets in each test.

  • POSTED BY Shan156 on | December 31, 2012, 16:29 GMT

    @TommytuckerSaffa, cheers mate. Ignore comments that SA are lucky. They deserve their successes. Re: England having a balanced attack, our attack did pretty well in 2012 except at the Oval. Most England fans, including yours truly, thought that we had a good, not great, attack till Amla, Kallis, and Smith inserted a huge dagger in our chests by scoring 631 for the loss of only 2 wickets. It was straight out of a horror story for us England fans. We only recovered after our win in India:-)

  • POSTED BY Shan156 on | December 31, 2012, 16:26 GMT

    Also, @toolarny, this cricket fan believes sincerely that SA deserves their #1 ranking more than any other team. Kallis is an alltime great, Steyn and Amla are awesome, Smith is leading from the front, ABDV is exciting and Morkel is steady. Philander has had a great start but it is way too early for him to be mentioned in the same breath as the great Glenn McGrath. For that, he has to prove himself in the sub-continent. The only thing SA is missing is a good spinner. They are already unbeatable. Once they unearth a good spinner, they will have a long reign as the #1 team.

  • POSTED BY Shan156 on | December 31, 2012, 16:21 GMT

    @Jose Puliampatta, You are one of the very few Indian fans who give due credit to England. Cheers mate. Your assessment is spot on about SA and England, the two best teams in test cricket atm. Re: Australia, they have an exciting set of fast bowlers but, now with Hussey retired, Clarke has to shoulder a lot of burden and carry the fragile batting. Nevertheless, it will be exciting to see England and Australia in back to back series this year. It will give a good indication of where the two teams stand.

    @toolarny, England and Australia are ranked 2nd and 3rd, not 7th and 8th. Historically, they have almost always played 5 match series for the Ashes. How is it a joke? SA is ranked #1 and if you think lowly of all teams ranked #2 and below, then who do they play an 'iconic' test series with? They just played Eng. and Aus. last year. It will be a good year for them consolidating their #1 position although SA in UAE will pose a stiff challenge.

  • POSTED BY Marcio on | December 31, 2012, 16:20 GMT

    Actually most of what Lillian Thomson says is correct. Anyone who actually watched the SA-AUS games this year saw a very different story to the one most one-eyed fans are relating here. (I wont repeat the match stats from my last post) While facts are clearly not going to affect the kind of blind hero worship of those like @TommyTuckerSaffa (they only evoke rage and fiery denunciation) others should at least be able to see past national affiliations. All Lillian Thomson is telling is the truth that there is little between the top teams at present, and for that he is being called a "troll". This simply affirms my perception about the quality of comments on this site. There are exceptions, but the immature, raging posts drown out any intelligent conversation.

  • POSTED BY Highflyer_GP on | December 31, 2012, 14:43 GMT

    @LillianThomson on (December 31 2012, 09:16 AM GMT): England had 4 tests to win the series in India. If it was a 2-test series, the result would have been 1-1 as well. Stop making excuses. England and Australia both lost two HOME series in a row to this SA team.

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2012, 14:36 GMT

    SA can become no1, bcoz of follwing reason. a. Coach Gary Kirsten. b. others like Australia - does not have good batting line up except clarke after hussey retires. c. Pakistan - is not consitent. d. India - under transition. e. Srilanka - with lot of injur woes. f. England - Except Cook no one is consistent and other teams stand very low in the table and never ;ook threatning SA position.

  • POSTED BY Highflyer_GP on | December 31, 2012, 14:26 GMT

    @rohan34mca: Making up definitions as we go along now? Who says that a great side needs a great spinner? The West Indies of the 80s barely fielded a spinner at all.

  • POSTED BY letsgoproteas on | December 31, 2012, 13:39 GMT

    LillianThomson - explain to me how this is a weak era when records are being broken everywhere.... and when the icc rankings keep changing...?

    Were things maybe weak when aus dominated?

  • POSTED BY TommytuckerSaffa on | December 31, 2012, 13:18 GMT

    I also have to say that the gap between the top 2 and the rest of the world is getting bigger as England look a quality outfit and like S.A. have a balanced attack and consistent team selection.

  • POSTED BY TommytuckerSaffa on | December 31, 2012, 12:47 GMT

    ICC test team of 2012 has 4 Saffas in the starting line up with AB has 12th man. If further justification of being no.1 is required SA in undefeated in 6 years in overseas matches and have recently defeated oz and England at home. Oz prepared flat wickets to nullify any threat of SA bowling attack and as soon as they prepped a decent pitch oz got beat by 300 runs. I find it petulant commentators like Lillian Thomson accuse SA of being 'Lucky'. Give credit where credit is due.

  • POSTED BY tanstell87 on | December 31, 2012, 11:34 GMT

    South Africa are number 1 no doubt about that....England are number 2....all the rest are catching up...would have loved to see SA v Eng in SA.

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2012, 11:18 GMT

    The competition for the top spot is among the good old three: Australia, England, & South Africa (mentioned only in the alphabetical order). All the other teams, including the one from my country, India, are lagging far behind)

  • POSTED BY toolarny on | December 31, 2012, 10:54 GMT

    Now wait a minute here, SA is not being given the respect they deserve by both the ICC and the cricket fans at large. During the Ausie era, SA were ranked 2nd. When India took to the top, SA were ranked 2nd. Even when England were at the pinacle SA were 2nd. In fact if you look at the rankings for the last decade no other team knocked on that door more than SA. Now that they've achieved that top spot, they're all of a sudden deemed as not good enough? Come on! The ICC has shown serious disrespect to the Proteas by not giving them a single iconic Test series. Actually, its a joke having a five match Ashes series (back to back mind you) contested by lower ranked teams!

  • POSTED BY SurlyCynic on | December 31, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    LillianThomson: You mention the runs conceded by SA bowlers in bowling teams out, and judge them solely on that. But what about conditions? Stats alone do not tell the whole story. At the Oval England prepared one of the flattest pitches I've ever seen, to negate Steyn, Morkel and Philander. It was so flat that SA scored 600-2 without any trouble. So bowling England out for 385+240 on that pitch was actually a brilliant bowling performance.

    Even Aus prepared flatter ptiches than usual, as everyone knows seam bowling is one of SA's strengths. You need to consider the pitches too.

  • POSTED BY LillianThomson on | December 31, 2012, 10:30 GMT

    @Kiwi Rocker Forget about Mohammed Yousuf.

    He hasn't played a First Class match for eight months, and when he did he scored 0 and 0.

    And in South Africa even when he was young and an active cricketer his Test scores were 5,1, 12, 42, 0, 50, 32, 18, 83 and 18, so 261 runs in 5 Tests at an average of 26.10.

    I can't imagine that Pakistan needs a geriatric version of that in February.

  • POSTED BY Ridaa on | December 31, 2012, 10:28 GMT

    @Safalicious I wouldn't waste your energy on LillianThompson. Fact of the matter is that we know we're a great side and haven't lost a Test Series either home or away in donkey's years.

    The opinion of some one-sided, Cricinfo troll doesn't really matter. If she actually knew a thing or two about cricket then her opinion would be held in high regard by the cricketing world. As she doesn't really know what she's talking about, her opinions are confined to the comments section. Just point and laugh at her ludicrous comments. You can never change a troll.

  • POSTED BY KiwiRocker- on | December 31, 2012, 10:12 GMT

    ballonbat: You need to read my comments carefully before responding. My comments had a particular mention of how South Africa chocked against Pakistan in UAE despite the fact that so called fearsome Dale Steyn was playing. Poor man was on verge of quitting the cricket. I do not attach much weight to SA beating Australia in Australia as current Australian team has been losing right left centre. Australia will definitely beat teams like India but they got pretty average batting line up, zero spin bowlers and broken fast bowlers so I rate them far below England, SA and Pakistan. ICC ranking system is a farce so suggests otherwise. I appreciate that you are right Muhammad Yousaf being 38 but so what? He is a classy middle order batsmen and deserves one last chance. J.Kallis is 37? Is not he? Furthermore, SA seems to be 'expediating' residency/immigration process for certain some players of Pakistani origin, but sadly SA will realise that Pakistan is not India to be rolled over so easily!

  • POSTED BY LillianThomson on | December 31, 2012, 10:06 GMT

    @Ridaa The West Indies of the 1970s-80s could afford not to have a spinner: their formula was:

    1) Giant fast bowler who averaged 20 (Garner/Ambrose) - Morkel averages 30. 2) Skiddy paceman averaging 20 (Marshall) - Steyn averaged 30 in 2012. 3) Out-and-out paceman (Holding) - averaged 22: Philander is 20K slower and in England and Australia averaged 30. 4) Into-the-wind tall defensive bowler who is hard to score off - Walsh averaged around 25.

    South Africa could get away without a spinner if they had Allan Donald (1995 vintage) PLUS Shaun Pollock (1999) PLUS Dale Steyn (2011) PLUS Vernon Philander.

    But they don't. Australia scored over 500 in an innings both the first two tests recently against South Africa. And this is the worst Aussie batting line-up since 1986-87.

    I can't remember anyone scoring like that v the West Indies, and certainly not 482 in a day, like at Adelaide.

  • POSTED BY longfellow on | December 31, 2012, 10:03 GMT

    @Lillian Thompson, you are clearly too obsessed with stats. If you actually watched Phillander bowl in England and Aus (where he missed one test) you would have seen he was a constant threat and unlucky not to get more. Also when it counted he put in brilliant performances (the last innings vs England). As for the prior series where he was the quickest to 50 wickets you can only play who's put in front of you. Many bowlers have played against far weaker opposition and come out with poorer stats than that! SA clearly has a superior attack to anyone in the world and analysing them one by one doesn't do them justice because they perform consistently as a unit. Cricket is a great game for stats but sometimes you actually need to sit down and watch the game and you will see the SA attack are constantly asking questions of the batsmen and they are scary, that's why they're the best in the world!

  • POSTED BY shovwar on | December 31, 2012, 10:01 GMT

    @LillianThompson...all the points are useless when SA kept conquering other countries. It does not matter if Steyn lost his pace, it does not matter if Kallis is not at his Best, It does not matter if Philander has not done anything recently. At the end of the day these players has matured and learned how to save and win together. When Kallis was the best or Steyn were faster the team was not as good as it is collectively now. So if there is any team worthy of the crown right now it ONLY SA. Who cares what they have done at home in the PAST. I am taliking bout the present. They learned and they made it up by winning away series. No other teams can do that like SA at the moment. They got the harder job done.

  • POSTED BY Safalicious on | December 31, 2012, 9:51 GMT

    @Lillianthompson, so what you are saying is that Philander, Steyn and Kallis didnt contribute much to the fact that they didnt lose a single test the whole year? With your other comments about the rest of the side being mediocre, I have to wonder how it is that this average team managed to stave off defeat at every turn.

    You should also remember that the SA bowlers have the advantage of better averages on home wickets given the pace there, but that also counts against the batsmen who have to play ohalf their careers on those pitches, yet the Saffa batsmen average favourably with other teams who play on far more docile pitches

    Im guessing that Clark, Ponting, Tentulkar and the last 3 English captains dont know much when they endorse this SA side as great. How many English captains do you want us to retire before you concede that this side has something special?

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | December 31, 2012, 9:51 GMT

    @ RednWhiteArmy , I wouldn't worry about him, just like everything else he's predicted, from England 'losing in India' to saying Australia would 'win' the last few Ashes even as they were getting thrashed, something tells me history is repeating itself yet again, and yet again jonesy2 will have to face a reckoning, which for him will mean being absent from all debate on these boards till at least February 2014 after both the back-to-back Ashes series are completed. "When in doubt, flee..."

  • POSTED BY Ridaa on | December 31, 2012, 9:43 GMT

    @LillianThomson @rohan34mca So according to you guys the Windies of the 70's and 80's were not a great team since they did not have a world class spinner?

  • POSTED BY ballonbat on | December 31, 2012, 9:33 GMT

    KiwiRocker, you are totally off your rocker. Like so many people who don't understand the first thing about cricket, you are confusing Test cricket with the shorter formats. There is no comparison. SA's 'notorious choking' has indeed occurred too many times, but all of them have been in competitions - World Cups and the like. There aren't any Test match competitions. Test matches (to date) have always been bilateral series and since SA was allowed to play again in the early 90s - and in fact in the years before they were forced out - they have played brilliant, top level cricket. Steyn and co are far more than 'handy on SA wickets'. They have demolished lineups in India, England, Australia, West Indies ... And to suggest that Pakistan should bring back Yousuf at 38, when he hasn't played Test cricket for over two years ... Madness. He was a very great batsman, but he's past it now. No, face facts. SA will beat Pakistan.

  • POSTED BY LillianThomson on | December 31, 2012, 9:26 GMT

    @ Safalicious - you raised four main points. I'll answer them one by one.

    Philander's speed to 50 wickets. Yes. On home wickets, then against a feeble NZ. But in his last 5 Tests in England and Oz he took just 16 wickets @ 30.

    Steyn's number 1 ranking. Yes, he has been a great bowler. But just read the 2012 Cricinfo commentaries to see that his pace is down to 135K now. And in 2012 his wickets came at 30 apiece.

    Kallis as a great all-rounder. Yes, definitely he was. But he is 37 now, and is a great batsman who bowls a little bit: in the last four years in 31 Tests he has just 31 wickets at an average of 45.45.

    "Clear superiority" over England, Australia and India? You drew your last home series against all three in the last four years, with your current team!

    I'm not saying that those teams are better than SA. But I am saying that SA is not significantly better than they are.

  • POSTED BY LillianThomson on | December 31, 2012, 9:16 GMT

    @Phat Boy and Edgie Pointing out that South Africa is only slightly better than the next 3 sides is not disrespectful. It's just a statement of fact.

    This is the same SA team as for the last five years. The one that failed to win its last home series v India and England and Australia, and lost Tests at home the last time Sri Lanka and Pakistan visited.

    Philander has arrived, but is a limited medium-paced seamer who has produced the goods in SA and NZ but did not perform well in Australia or England - and has yet to visit the subcontinent. And his arrival has coincided with Steyn's pace falling and his 2012 average blowing out to 30. The great Kallis is now 37 years old, and still irreplacable.

    I congratulate them on beating their closest rivals narrowly, in favourable conditions. But England has just won a series in India, something this SA team couldn't pull off in 2009-10.

    And having watched Elgar score 0 and 0, and Kleinveldt take 4-243 in Australia, I worry for SA's future

  • POSTED BY Safalicious on | December 31, 2012, 9:01 GMT

    @rohan34mca, By your definition, the great pace quartet of the Windies were not part of a great team because they didnt have a great spinner? Holding, Marshall, Sobers, Richards, Roberts, Haynes, to name a few, yet not a great side because they didnt have a Warne, Murali or heaven forbid, Ajmal, Mustaq or Vittori.

    Go pull another one mate, the aim of the game is to win!

  • POSTED BY Safalicious on | December 31, 2012, 8:55 GMT

    @LillianThomson, You raise some interesting arguments, so lets see abouut them. SA have a bowler that was fastest to 50 wickets in 120 years, another bowler who has been #1 since forever and with a strike rate to rival any era. They have an all rounder that averages better that all but 3 of the top 50 batsmen of all time (Bradman of course, then Sobers and Hutton are marginally ahead). They have an opening batsman that averages close to 50 and another 2 who would probably be first pick in any other country. All this and a touring record that I doubt has ever been bettered, or even approached

    Against this, you have teams who are much vaunted such as England, India and the like. The problem is that when they play against SA, the best vs best tag looks a little lopsided with SA having clear superiority. This is like saying Australia were average despite dominating world cricket, because there were no challengers

    This SA team is a great side regardless of your lack of endorsement

  • POSTED BY vednarayaninfo on | December 31, 2012, 8:54 GMT

    South Africa looks hot favorite in this series as they have chunk of highly experienced and skillful players. On the other hand New Zealand cricket looks grim as their players are playing without winning agenda.

  • POSTED BY PDV1 on | December 31, 2012, 8:50 GMT

    @Mikey76 - Being poor at fielding does not make you unlucky, it makes you incompetent. LillianThomson - If you honestly think that Steyn, Morkel and Philander, individually and as a unit, don't excel at bowling you either don't have access to statistics or know very little about cricket.

  • POSTED BY Phat-Boy on | December 31, 2012, 8:48 GMT

    Few points. Why does a team have to be all-conquering to be a standout side? There have only been two of them in the history of the game, but that doesn't mean there have only been two excellent sides all told. Furthermore, why are South Arica not allowed to have sme weak spots when Australia carried capable but average players like Blewett, Elliott, Fleming, Kaspriwicz, Lee, Hayden and Langer pre-2000, Bevan etc? Seems like double standards to me. Australia's very best line-up was Hayden, Langer, Ponting, Waugh, Waugh, Martyn, Gilchrist, Lee, Warne, Gillespie, McGrath. Awesome side, one weak link (relatively) in Lee - but they'd have played barely a dozen tests as that line-up, if that.

    People are talking like SA need to win every match for five years to be considered good. A their peak, Australia never went more than four years without a series defeat. Whatever you think of them, assuming they beat Pak SA have already done that, so they must be doing something right

  • POSTED BY RednWhiteArmy on | December 31, 2012, 8:27 GMT

    @jonesy2 So troll, how do you explain losing 3 out of the last 4 ashes to England then. Face it trollboy, your nothing.

  • POSTED BY edgie on | December 31, 2012, 8:14 GMT

    @Lillian, seriously, why u r still commenting is beyond me, wow! SA will blow Pakistan away, they have done it with (what you call) substandard Proteas teams in the past when pakistan have toured here, and with the no 1 team, will do the same. And SA are finding it harder to bowl teams out now than in the last 0 years? GEEZ lady, they did it to start the new year off against Sri lanka, once in NZ (with the other tests rained out), TWICE in England, once in Australia (and when it mattered most). how often has your kiwi side done that? And the mark of a good team is know how to defend, and not just to bowl teams out.

  • POSTED BY rohan34mca on | December 31, 2012, 8:09 GMT

    I second LillianThomson. No team can be a Great team unless they have a world class spinner. By world class spinner, I mean someone who is deadly on 5th day on pitches like Adelaide which are good for batting. England can boast of that(I hate to say that because I hate loose mouthed cricketers), however they have to beat SA fair & square to be a Great Side. With this being said, this is GREAT for intl cricket, It is not one team calling shots like during late 90s up till 2007. It is good to see 3 contenders (SA, ENG, AUS) for No 1 spot and one good team trying to catch up with sheer strength of bowling(PAK).

  • POSTED BY LillianThomson on | December 31, 2012, 7:56 GMT

    @ Last Ride I hope that Gary Kirsten is doing more homework about the Pakistani batters than you have done!

    The impact of having an Australian coach is that their team has transitioned into one with players better equipped than usual to play horizontal bat strokes on bouncy wickets. Younis, Taufeeq and Hafeez have good records in those conditions, and the other three batsmen are grafters.

    Like you, I expect a South African series victory, but largely because there is no Durban Test to be weather-affected and because Pakistan will bat poorly for the first half of the series due to a self-inflicted lack of acclimatisation. But I'm looking forward to seeing how SA performs against the first decent bowling line-up they will have met since Australia toured 13 months ago.

  • POSTED BY Last_ride on | December 31, 2012, 6:54 GMT

    @LillianThomson they may have had a good bowling unit. Even if their bowlers exposed us their batting has to be rated the worst batting line up in cricket. Dale steyn Morne Morkel , Philander will easily finish off their batsman. I really dont expect Pakistan to cross 200 in any of their innings.

  • POSTED BY LillianThomson on | December 31, 2012, 5:49 GMT

    @Phat Boy I may live in Australia, but I'm a Kiwi, and our substandard team will be your next victims:)

    My point doesn't seem to have got through to you: I'm not saying that any team is clearly better than South Africa.

    I'm saying that this is a weak era, and that all the four top teams are flawed. South Africa is finding it harder to bowl teams out than it has for nearly 50 years, but that hasn't mattered because their batting is compiling huge scores.

    I believe that South Africa is a good team, but with two sub-standard batsmen, a keeper who can bat but can't keep and no spinner. And they have not played Tests for ages anywhere where the lack of a spinner could catch them out.

    I'm pretty sure that Amir, Asif, Junaid and Ajmal would have exposed them in February, because that is the best bowling attack since the 1980s. But two of those bowlers are suspended, and so South Africa will again enjoy a charmed life.

    Good luck to them. But there is no outstanding side in world cricket.

  • POSTED BY Safalicious on | December 31, 2012, 5:36 GMT

    While I think that there is still a season, possibly 2 left in Kallis, I think that the time of calling him the allrounder in the team is over. When he does pick up the ball he is still good, but this is pretty seldom nowadays. As a batsman he would be irreplacable in any side, though there are some very good prospects. At present there are 3 players that need backup in the wings and one thaat needs replacement asap. Rudolph needs to be replaced by Faf, period. Smith, Kallis and Allviro are all nearing the end of their careers and players such as Elgar, Russouw, Miller, Ingram etc are lining up. It seems though that only Morris offers a seamer allrounder option while Duminy and Elgar offer a spin allrounder option.

    It wont be long before someone puts his hand up.

  • POSTED BY Phat-Boy on | December 31, 2012, 5:09 GMT

    Also, @Mikey76. So now a run-out, and out-of-form players is somehow proof that you were robbed in that series against SA? Sorry, I thought cricket was about actually performing - I'll be interested to see whether Bangladesh put their lack of success down to their entire playing group just being 'out of form.'

    Also, I find it hilarious that Australian fans throw out the 'choker' tag so freely. Kolkota 2001 WI chasing 420 in 2003 SA @ Perth in 2008 Sydney vs SA 1994 Melbourne vs England 1998 Adelaide vs SA 2012 Hobart vs NZ 2011 Brisbane vs England 2010 Cardiff vs England 2009

    This is a team who are excellent at losing or drawing from positions of power. They are no more immune from choking than any other team.

    Oh but somehow they should still be world number 1.

  • POSTED BY kcr_ on | December 31, 2012, 5:03 GMT

    @mickey - catching is part of cricket. If a team can not catch, they don't deserve to be ranked high. And seriously, Bressie and ms Broad will not trouble this SA batting. @jonesy LOL - blinkered to the max hey?!

  • POSTED BY Phat-Boy on | December 31, 2012, 5:02 GMT

    @lillianThompson bahahahahaha I'm sorry to tell you, but South Africa boasting 800 wickets between Steyn, Morkel and Kallis, plus Philander who still averages about 17, excel at bowling. To the point where for most of the last 4 years they carried a bowler in the side strictly to control run flow (Harris). They may not be as rounded as teams like Pakistan who can field world class quicks AND spinners, but in pace terms, they are excellent whether you like it or not. You want facts yet you deal in hypotheticals and luck. FACT: Australia have lost five series against SA, Eng and India since 08-09. FACT: SA have lost one. Having three bowlers averaging under 30 (one of them with 300 wickets at a strike rate of 43), and having 4 batsmen average more than 48 is not luck. Deal with it.

    And Kiwirocker? Beating Australia in Australia twice and England in England three times would be considered 'winning something of note' wouldn't you say?

  • POSTED BY on | December 31, 2012, 4:21 GMT

    South Africa are deserved number 1 in the Test rankings. They clearly have the most talent, and now have the results to justify it. Next step is to see if they can sustain it over a period of months, if not years. I'm sure some World Cup silverware would be gratefully accepted, as the choker tag still persists in the shorter forms of the game when trophies are on the line.

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | December 31, 2012, 3:39 GMT

    Bradman_the_greatest -- what are you talking about troll? england are not only no where near australias level they are below pakistan maybe just ahead of the woeful india and level with sri lanka

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | December 31, 2012, 3:37 GMT

    sorry AB it wont happen you'll have to settle for 2nd for the next 10 or so years because we know australia will have one of the great teams soon enough

  • POSTED BY TommytuckerSaffa on | December 31, 2012, 3:30 GMT

    All hail king Kallis and lord Amla. All hail, all hail.

    It's good to be no.1 and its great to have such a talented team. Thanks proteas for making me love SA cricket again.

  • POSTED BY mikey76 on | December 31, 2012, 3:07 GMT

    PDV1. Yes I can explain, dropped catches. Simple. We gave pretty much everyone a life at one time or another. Had Amla had been caught at the Oval SA wouldn't have made that huge score and the game would have been a draw. In the last test England didn't "go down swinging" they were well on their way to winning until Swann got run out and they lost by 50 runs. SA played well, England were poor, your bowlers out bowled ours but that wasn't difficult as Swann was injured, Bresnan was recovering from surgery and Broad was out of form.....and we dropped about 10 catches!

  • POSTED BY LillianThomson on | December 31, 2012, 2:46 GMT

    @PDV1 and Sparta Army.

    I'm not sure where you detect the dominance of the South African bowlers. The rule of thumb is that if a team concedes 600 runs in a Test match across 2 innings it will very rarely win. (Until a decade ago, if you gave away 600 runs you usually lost).

    In the England series, England scored 385+240, 425+130-4, 315+294.

    In the Australia series, Australia scored 565-5d, 550+267-6, 163+322.

    In other words, South Africa won due to the limited English attack (and muddled thinking about Pietersen and Swann) and because Australia collapsed once in three Tests.

    But it takes an awful lot of luck (as well as good batting) to win two major series after conceding so many runs and taking so few wickets.

    Which is why the top 4 teams are so close. England and South Africa can bat. Australia and Pakistan can bowl. None of the four excel at both.

  • POSTED BY Robster1 on | December 31, 2012, 2:08 GMT

    Newlands test matches are always very attended and the New Year one most of all. Last time England toured the first three days were sold out in advance and 80,000 attended all in.

  • POSTED BY KiwiRocker- on | December 31, 2012, 1:29 GMT

    ICC ranking system is a farce.South Africa's last series against Pakistan was a lucky draw(UAE 2009-2010), England's last series against Pakistan was a shameful white wash(3-0 in UAE in 2011-12), Australia's last series against Pakistan was an embarassing draw on a neutral venue( more of a home for Australia than Pakistan( England-2010).How are these three teams ranked higher than Pakistan is beyond my comprehension? Yes, I do understand that ranking points are gained by playing all teams, but it still defies the logic as the above indicates.SA team are a neutorious bunch of chokers who have failed to win anything of note for last two decades. While, I admire J Kallis, however, his career is coming to an end.While D.Steyn and co can be handy in South African conditions but Junaid Khan, Umer Gul, Wahab Riaz, M.Irfan will also be licking their lips to bowl on those wickets.Pakistan has the best spin bowling attack in world too!Pak should play M.Yousaf and SA will suffer a series defeat!

  • POSTED BY Markus971 on | December 31, 2012, 0:46 GMT

    I agree with you A.B. Just remember Work on your Fitness & Flexibility, if youv'e got the concentration sorted. Fantastic Cricketer!

  • POSTED BY Phat-Boy on | December 31, 2012, 0:27 GMT

    @LillianThompson 52 runs? Outplayed in 2 out of 3 tests? What, so we judge teams on what COULD have happened now? Congrats Australia on winning the World Cup in 99 after a semi-final tie. Congrats on scraping through after Gibbs' fluffed catch. Congrats on breaking your India hoodoo thanks to a wash-out in a drawn test that India were on the way to winning.

    Last I looked, winners and rankings were determined by results, not by hypothetical 'what could have beens.' Interesting that you didn't mention the washed out day in Brisbane which happened to arrive when Australia had South Africa 'in all sorts' at 2-240 after a day of the series. You didn't mention SA playing that match with 10 men, or their best player being on one leg for the last 10 days of the series, etc etc. Geez some Aussie fans have real trouble accepting that, just for a while at least, another team can be considered better than theirs. No series defeats overseas in 6 years, no series defeats anywhere in 4

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2012, 23:17 GMT

    Well we know you guys can , and AB mate show as all thse promnises, lets kill theBlack caps and Pakistan and rise once more to the occation and try to keep the heads level and semanted our no 1 rankings.. This is an awesome time awaited and well organised and team enviroment and fantastic leaders ship from the coaching side..lets us go all the way.

  • POSTED BY PDV1 on | December 30, 2012, 21:50 GMT

    Mikey76 - could you please explain to me why England should really have won the 2nd and 3rd Tests?! SA were never in any danger of losing those two games. If anything the Proteas were on course to win the second Test as well but ran out of time on the last day. At Lords the England batsmen went down swinging on the 5th day but once the new ball was taken they lasted two deliveries. Apart from one KP knock the SA bowlers utterly dominated the England batting line-up. To be honest Australia put up a much better fight against SA.

  • POSTED BY SpartaArmy on | December 30, 2012, 21:22 GMT

    Considering the talent at disposal, seems like the following ranking order persists for the next 3-4 years: 1.SA 2.AUS 3.ENG 4.PAK 5.IND, SL 6.WI, NZ 7.BD

    High chances for teams in 5 and 6 to end up in same pool.

  • POSTED BY ian45 on | December 30, 2012, 20:19 GMT

    @lilianthomson, any of them number 1 by the end of 2013, ha ha ha, while on the subject of your narror margins, I think you mind is narrow, bring it on, lets see what your little teams have got, double tons and cant beat us LOL LOL

  • POSTED BY mikey76 on | December 30, 2012, 19:02 GMT

    SA fully deserve to be No.1 as they came to England and won. I dont think that they are overwhelmingly the best team in the world and I think once England have everyone back fit and firing then its on again. Last summer too many players just didnt perform (Swann, Broad, Trott) and the catching just killed us and thus gave a skewed look to the results. The first test was an absolute thrashing but we really should have won at Headingley and Lords. The series in SA should be an absolute cracker.

  • POSTED BY klempie on | December 30, 2012, 18:59 GMT

    @SurlyCynic... with you boeta. :)

  • POSTED BY SurlyCynic on | December 30, 2012, 18:42 GMT

    Another enjoyable troll by LillianThomson. Of course, the other way to look at it is that England were ranked #1 and at home, even a drawn series would have been a good performance by SA. Instead SA won 2-0, including statistically one of the biggest wins in test history. Call it 'narrow' if you will, we'll just enjoy the thought that we've now won two series in a row in both England and Aus.

  • POSTED BY wrenx on | December 30, 2012, 18:41 GMT

    South Africa look all set for a good year. Unlike last year where Pakistan came to the UAE after playing lots of cricket against SL, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh to defeat England in the longest format 3-0, this time, they have only prepared with some ODIs against India, so won't be in much shape to challenge such a strong South Africa side. New Zealand are still struggling, and if Taylor declines to tour, I can't see any way they can avoid defeat as well. Who's going to knock South Africa off their perch?

  • POSTED BY ozziespirit on | December 30, 2012, 18:23 GMT

    Australian fans - We are not as good as England but don't be down about it, and don't let anyone get you down about it. We have promising players like Warner & Bird and this team rebuilding will come good in a few years time.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2012, 18:13 GMT

    2013 should be the last year AB de Villiers keeps. After that we have to find a keeper who can bat at 7. AB has never been the long term solution, Quinton de Kock looks, by some distance, the best of the crop at the moment. Thami is good, but nothing more. Another season for De Kock in first class cricket and he should be ready.

    Once Kallis retires, SA will have to look at AB to bat at 4 I would think. He won't be able to keep from there.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2012, 18:09 GMT

    If Philander gets injured and SAF decide to play Tahir against Pakistan then Pak may give SAF a bit of a fight in the test series else a whitewash.

  • POSTED BY LillianThomson on | December 30, 2012, 17:34 GMT

    South Africa, England, Australia and Pakistan are actually closely bunched together the the ICC Test Rankings and any one of them could easily be number one by the end of 2013. Talk of a gap opening up is not borne out by the facts.

    I cannot see how the wonderful Kallis can last more than two years, tops. And by then Smith will be a waning force too, while De Villiers' weight of runs is going to be limited if he keeps on behind the stumps.

    I congratulate South Africa on their narrow series win over England (which was 52 runs away from being a drawn series) and for taking the series against Australia after being outplayed in 2 of the 3 Tests.

    But now is a time for recognising the narrowness of those wins and for seeking to reinvigorate the line up. And I wish Tsolekile was in the team, both as a step towards transformation and to reduce the burden on De Villiers.

  • POSTED BY mukesh_LOVE.cricket on | December 30, 2012, 17:03 GMT

    I still don't think AB de villers keeping in tests is a good idea , Wicket keeping takes a lot out of the player and he is too good a batsmen for SA to risk it ,and lets see how they will do once kallis retires

  • POSTED BY AzAb12754 on | December 30, 2012, 17:00 GMT

    Don't really get the point of having test rankings I mean there are not enough teams, the bottom ranked play less games meaning there's no chance for them to claim 2 and 3 positions let alone the top position.

  • POSTED BY yjreddy on | December 30, 2012, 15:58 GMT

    Real challenge begins when kallis retires for sa..in my point of view and india and newzealand in slump . sa can clean sweep both of their opponents easily..

  • POSTED BY Jaffa79 on | December 30, 2012, 15:39 GMT

    South Africa are number 1. No doubts about it. As an England fan, I must admit that the Saffas were much better this past summer. I hope England can improve before the next time they meet! I just hope that England can test themselves in a 5 match series against the Saffas rather than having to play 5 tests against Australia. Now that the Aussies are down to one good batsman, I think India will destroy them before the inevitable Ashes cakewalk. The Aussies should have to play Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and the W.Indies before they play the big boys of South Africa, England, India and Pakistan. After the Kiwis drew with the Aussies in Aus, I'd probably place them higher as well.

  • POSTED BY SurlyCynic on | December 30, 2012, 15:31 GMT

    Thanks for a reasonably fair evaluation of ABDV, I must admit I expected more criticism of him even though he's just doing what the team needs. It wasn't just in Perth where things turned around, people forget the previous test where he made 33 off over 200 balls on the 5th day to help save the test. He also kept well and averaged over 55 in Aus, so not too shabby.

    I don't think Thami has been treated unfairly, he'll be in the team if AB has an injury, ahead of players with superior averages. How many other players who aren't in the team are given national contracts and promised a chance in the future? Noone I can think of. Perhaps the selectors should stop making these 'promises' and select for each series as it comes.

  • POSTED BY klsau on | December 30, 2012, 15:19 GMT

    While I do hope that AB succeeds tremendously in his dual role, I'm still not convinced if it's the best way to go...he has the potential to be the no1 batsman in the world but I fear with keeping he may be restricted at best to a good keeper batsman a la prior(who is doing a very good job btw)..needs more innings like the 169 he made at perth

  • POSTED BY TommytuckerSaffa on | December 30, 2012, 15:13 GMT

    The gulf between the top 2 and the rest of the world is now wider than the straits of Gibraltar. South Africa has home test matches against weaker teams in 2013. Graham Smith himself backs England to crush Oz in the ashes and news just in that hussey has just retired and Watson still can't score a ton!!!!

  • POSTED BY SamRoy on | December 30, 2012, 15:10 GMT

    The only challenge for SA this year is playing Ajmal in UAE. If they prepare well and are able to decipher him then the rest of the challenges aren't exactly challenges considering NZ and India aren't going to give much of a headache to SA in SA.

  • POSTED BY StaalBurgher on | December 30, 2012, 15:08 GMT

    @TommytuckerSaffa - Please don't spoil that little joke for when we play the English.

  • POSTED BY Last_ride on | December 30, 2012, 14:50 GMT

    This confidence was never seen before in any South African Side. I expect them to whitewash Nz. Whitewash Pakistan. Whitewash India. Quinton de kock must come into the side. He is a class batsman. We will remain on top despite constant rumblings from Front_foot_lounge, Hammond, Randy oz, Jonsey2 etc etc.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | December 30, 2012, 14:43 GMT

    Everyone knows what a gulf lies between numbers 1 & 2 in the world and the rest of the world. All true cricket loves would much prefer to see no's 1& 2 playing cricket on minefields in India than they would on flat tracks against minnow teams. Take the Christmas Minnow Big Bash for instance, the current giggling joke in international cricket: Here we have a much-mocked Australia with their famous minnow batting line up playing a bunch of unfit has-beens who have fallen out with their board, don't want to play in the team anyway and are a shadow of the team they were even this time last year. And with the money in ODI cricket, and having to play against such an insignificant team as the current Australian one - who can blame them?

  • POSTED BY TommytuckerSaffa on | December 30, 2012, 14:31 GMT

    Looking forward to the India tour. We put ponting into retirement maybe we can do the same to SRT. We will see...

  • POSTED BY licec on | December 30, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    If there is someone, of whom I'd believe, could be the best batter in the world while keeping, it is definitely AB de Villiers. The man is such a phenomenal talent.

  • POSTED BY TommytuckerSaffa on | December 30, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    All hail king Kallis and lord Amla, all hail, all hail. Kallis to score a ton at newlands. All hail.

    Hope AB gives the gloves to de kock for the ODIs.

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    ya he is correct you are the best

  • POSTED BY on | December 30, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    ya he is correct you are the best

  • POSTED BY TommytuckerSaffa on | December 30, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    All hail king Kallis and lord Amla, all hail, all hail. Kallis to score a ton at newlands. All hail.

    Hope AB gives the gloves to de kock for the ODIs.

  • POSTED BY licec on | December 30, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    If there is someone, of whom I'd believe, could be the best batter in the world while keeping, it is definitely AB de Villiers. The man is such a phenomenal talent.

  • POSTED BY TommytuckerSaffa on | December 30, 2012, 14:31 GMT

    Looking forward to the India tour. We put ponting into retirement maybe we can do the same to SRT. We will see...

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | December 30, 2012, 14:43 GMT

    Everyone knows what a gulf lies between numbers 1 & 2 in the world and the rest of the world. All true cricket loves would much prefer to see no's 1& 2 playing cricket on minefields in India than they would on flat tracks against minnow teams. Take the Christmas Minnow Big Bash for instance, the current giggling joke in international cricket: Here we have a much-mocked Australia with their famous minnow batting line up playing a bunch of unfit has-beens who have fallen out with their board, don't want to play in the team anyway and are a shadow of the team they were even this time last year. And with the money in ODI cricket, and having to play against such an insignificant team as the current Australian one - who can blame them?

  • POSTED BY Last_ride on | December 30, 2012, 14:50 GMT

    This confidence was never seen before in any South African Side. I expect them to whitewash Nz. Whitewash Pakistan. Whitewash India. Quinton de kock must come into the side. He is a class batsman. We will remain on top despite constant rumblings from Front_foot_lounge, Hammond, Randy oz, Jonsey2 etc etc.

  • POSTED BY StaalBurgher on | December 30, 2012, 15:08 GMT

    @TommytuckerSaffa - Please don't spoil that little joke for when we play the English.

  • POSTED BY SamRoy on | December 30, 2012, 15:10 GMT

    The only challenge for SA this year is playing Ajmal in UAE. If they prepare well and are able to decipher him then the rest of the challenges aren't exactly challenges considering NZ and India aren't going to give much of a headache to SA in SA.

  • POSTED BY TommytuckerSaffa on | December 30, 2012, 15:13 GMT

    The gulf between the top 2 and the rest of the world is now wider than the straits of Gibraltar. South Africa has home test matches against weaker teams in 2013. Graham Smith himself backs England to crush Oz in the ashes and news just in that hussey has just retired and Watson still can't score a ton!!!!

  • POSTED BY klsau on | December 30, 2012, 15:19 GMT

    While I do hope that AB succeeds tremendously in his dual role, I'm still not convinced if it's the best way to go...he has the potential to be the no1 batsman in the world but I fear with keeping he may be restricted at best to a good keeper batsman a la prior(who is doing a very good job btw)..needs more innings like the 169 he made at perth