Pakistan in South Africa 2012-13

A summer of content for South Africa

Graeme Smith's side have firmly established themselves among the greatest South African teams, and he has set sights on achieving even more

Firdose Moonda

February 25, 2013

Comments: 82 | Text size: A | A

Graeme Smith scored a half-century in his 100th Test as captain, South Africa v Pakistan, 1st Test, Johannesburg, 2nd day, February 2, 2013
The series trophies are piling up for Graeme Smith and South Africa © AFP
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It really was a lazy Sunday afternoon. Golden rays dripped onto sloping grass embankments where colourful umbrellas were the only things to break the palette of blue sky and green ground. Some ate, some drank, others reclined in leisure. The burble was neither shrill nor suggestive, it was constant and comforting.

It was summer time in South Africa. Let nobody tell you this time of year is anything but special. In fact Graeme Smith used those exact words to describe the Test team's success over the last two months which culminated on Sunday in Centurion.

Beating a hapless New Zealand and underprepared Pakistan in tailor-made conditions may not strike as victories worth celebrating with such gusto but still this was the summer of South African cricket's content. To borrow from Shakespeare, it was the season in which they hung their opponents' bruised arms for monuments and turned dreadful marches into delightful measures.

Winning consistently at home evaded South Africa in the same way triumphing away does other teams. Between 2009 and 2011, they did not register a series win at home even while they were conquering territory everywhere else.

Kingsmead was the main reason South Africa slipped up at home. They struggled on a pitch that has grown slower over the years and a support base that has been strongly in favour of subcontinental teams. Durban was promptly removed from the Test schedule but will be back next season. Given the strength of South Africa's performances, they have reason to believe they can overturn the hoodoo there.

The current South African Test squad has shown fearlessness that is matched by precision. Too often, teams attempt to play "brave cricket," which was a buzz word for the South African side not too long ago but forget that courage must not exclude attention to detail. Under Gary Kirsten, Smith's men have learned the balance.

They are able to recognise pressure situations and have the skill and mental aptitude to deal with them but they are also capable of transferring those moments onto the opposition. The best evidence of that can be seen from the schedule which listed 25 days of Test cricket this summer. South Africa only played 18. They enjoyed a full week off because of the strength of their performances. Although it meant gate revenue was lower at all grounds and sponsors return on exposure also suffered a little, it underlines South Africa's resolve.

Some call that ruthlessness but it is a little less rash than the word suggests. Others call it being clinical but it has more passion that that. It is a combination of applying themselves with intent and not letting the aggression cloud the end goal.

Only a team that is as mature as it is confident is able to execute that properly. South Africa have achieved that level of development because of the mix of the team which retains a strong enough core so rookies coming in have sufficient guidance and room to grow.

 
 
South Africa's pace pack has been compared to the West Indian quartet of the 1980s. Pace and variation are their obvious parallels but a less talked about one is that South Africa also seem to have a second wave coming through. Rory Kleinveldt and Kyle Abbott and Marchant de Lange are good enough back up to Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander
 

A substantial part of that core is Smith himself. The stability of his leadership cannot be underestimated, especially as it is now bearing its best fruit. Under Smith, South Africa have touched unprecedented heights and relived feats from eras past.

As a measure of why the five Test wins out of five this summer are worthy of so much praise they cannot be considered in isolation. Consider instead that the last time South Africa won all their Tests in a home summer, Smith was not even captain of the team. It was ten years ago, in the season of 2002-03 when South Africa beat Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan in two Test each. Four of those victories were achieved by an innings, two against Bangladesh. This summer, three of the five wins required South Africa to bat just once.

Similarly the whitewash over Pakistan should not be assessed without context. It was the first under Smith, in series of three Tests more, and the only the third time South Africa have achieved the feat. The two previous occasions where when Ali Bacher's team of 1969-70 beat Australia 4-0 at home and Hansie Cronje's men in 1998-99 blanked West Indies 5-0.

By beating Pakistan 3-0, this South African side has put themselves on the same plane as the previous two and can now be considered among the best the country has ever produced. They still have distance to travel because they can be ranked among the greatest of all time.

Small comparisons are already been made. South Africa's pace pack has been compared to the West Indian quartet of the 1980s. Pace and variation are their obvious parallels but a less talked about one is that South Africa also seem to have a second wave coming through. Rory Kleinveldt and Kyle Abbott and Marchant de Lange are good enough back up to Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander.

Smith has been compared to Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting because he is an inspirational captain. Morkel calls him "the voice," because when he talks, everyone listens. He does not do as much talking as he does leading by example. The team's record of never losing when Smith has scored a century remains intact and he is the leading run-scorer in successful fourth-innings run chases.

He is also aware that he has not done it all. "I feel grateful that the team and I were able to achieve something today and hope we can go on to achieve a lot more," he said. For the next seven months, there is no more than can be achieved. The break in South Africa's Test schedule is "disappointing," for Smith and cricket lovers the world over who will be denied watching a team at its peak.

The interruption in play will require South Africa to put major emphasis on their preparation before the next series, which is also where they most anticipated challenge lies. They will travel to the United Arab Emirates to play Pakistan with the knowledge of what happened to England when they went there as the No.1 ranked team and that winning in the subcontinent remains the final frontier.

Perhaps South Africa will only be considered truly great when they win series in India and Sri Lanka and that may be a fair way to measure them. They will have to wait until 2015 before they will have the chance to do that.

So for now, all they can to do is soak in the summer's last sunshine knowing that there will be few seasons as successful as this one. They may reflect on the words to Bryan Adams' song about carefree loving at the warmest time of year and realise if they had a choice maybe they'd always want to be here. Surely, these are some of the best days of their lives.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (February 27, 2013, 12:57 GMT)

SA is d best team in d world now by a fair distance....Eng comes 2nd...they r also a good team....AUS, IND & PAK are pretty avg teams...SL have a good limited overs' side...In tests, they are really poor now...

Posted by Greatest_Game on (February 27, 2013, 5:06 GMT)

For those despairing over the Proteas playing no tests for 7 months, do not fear, there's always a Saffa team playing somewhere.

In cricinfo's current New Zealand & England "player lists," there are 14 SA born (& mostly raised,) players. (Not including Strauss, listed, but retired.) There are 6 in the NZ player list, and 8 in the Eng player list. A full team's worth, plus extras, of Saffa players for you to follow while the Proteas twiddle their during the cancelled Sri Lanka test series.

Ironically, given the debate over the "SA keeper question," current & recent keepers for both countries are "SA born." Prior & Kieswetter for Eng, Watling & van Wyk for NZ. (None would make the SA team anyway.)

So, we can all still have fun following SA cricket. The scorecard options are endlessly confusing versions of Saffa vs Saffa:

N Compton c Watling b Wagner IJL Trott c Watling b Cachopa K Pietersen c Munro b Wagner MJ Prior c Wagner b Cachopa

SA cricket is like Coca Cola - its everywhere!

Posted by   on (February 27, 2013, 4:06 GMT)

I wish south africa now try Rilee rossow.Reeza Hendricks,Obus Pieneer,James Price,Dane Patterson,Simon Harmer in a low profile series with countries like zimbabwe/Bangladesh so tht u can know what is there talent

Posted by Greatest_Game on (February 26, 2013, 21:38 GMT)

Lots of talk here about SA batting vs Pakistan bowling (mainly AJMAL) in the UAE. Below are some tour stats from the 2010 Pak vs SA Tour in UAE.

TESTS - 2. Both drawn. (SA bat & Pak bowl figs below.) SA Bat averages: de Villiers 154, Kallis 107, Amla 88, Smith 48, Morkel 45, Steyn 37 Pak Bowl averages: Ahmed 24.8, Riaz, 30.5, Rehman 48.5, Hafeez 55.5 AJMAL 65.6, Gul 85.5 Most runs - Kallis, de Villiers, Amla, Ali, Misbah, Younis, Smith, Umar High scores: de Villiers, Kallis, Younis, Amla, Kallis, Smith, Ali, Amla Most wickets - Rehman, Harris, Ahmed, Morkel, Steyn, Botha, Gul, AJMAL Best Bowling: Ahmed, Morkel, Steyn, Botha, Rehman, Harris, Riaz, AJMAL

T20s - 2. SA won the Series 2-0, both games by 6 wickest

ODIs - 5. SA won the Series 3-2. Match stats below. SA won 1st ODI by 8 wickets in 39.3 overs; 3rd ODI by 2 runs, both lost 9 wickets; 5th ODI by 57 runs, SA lost 5 wickets, Pak all out 44.5 overs.

Pak won 2nd & 4th ODIs, each by 1 wicket in 49.5 overs.

Hope this helps :)

Posted by THE_MIZ on (February 26, 2013, 16:40 GMT)

@DeckChairand6pack, glad that I'm not the only one that feels Tahir should be given another chance! I think that whilst the Petersen offers batting depth and should be first choice in SA as pitches wouldn't turn much anyway, In the sub-continent Imran would be more effective. He may only have one sharp turning delivery (the googly) but its still more than I've seen petersen do. Just take a look at the domestic stats and it will confirm that Tahir is the best spinner we have...by quite some distance! He picked up a I think 12 in one game not too long ago...

Posted by Mitch1066 on (February 26, 2013, 15:00 GMT)

South. Africa are deserving best team in world . I also believe they be there for long time to come I'm sure . Smith indeed must be truly inspiring leader . In amla faf and adv have future in your Side hands with best seam attack on planet could possibly rival croft Holden Roberts etc of great West Indies team.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (February 26, 2013, 14:13 GMT)

I'm sure it will be difficult for SA in the UAE, the pitches are sure to be dustbowls. But for those saying SA will definitely lose, consider their away record vs Pakistan.

In Pakistan, SA have won 2 tests, Pakistan 1 test, and 4 draws. This gave SA 2 out of the 3 series played in Pakistan.

In the UAE in 2010 there were flat pitches and both matches were draws, with SA declaring their 3rd innings in an attempt to bowl Pakistan out.

I'm not saying these past results mean SA will win. I'm just pointing out that to say SA always struggle on the SC is wrong. SA's record in Pakistan is far superior to Pakistan's record in SA.

Posted by dontlikecricket on (February 26, 2013, 13:26 GMT)

I think fans, especially PAK fans need to hold their horses. SA is the best team around and they have performed well in subcontinent in the past. I think SA will actually do ok in UAE. However PAK have Ajmal, Rehman, Haffez and if for some reason one of the the main spinners is not available due to fitness/illnes then young Raza Hasan is also a very good bowler. PAK does hold advantage in spin department but SA has good fast bowlers, batsmen and better fielding. There is no point in disrespecting eachother, especially if things go wrong then it just looks silly!! PAK can win in UAE, but it will depend on how well their batsmen will perform, spinners will definitely do thier job well. It will be interesting to watch!!!

Posted by DeckChairand6pack on (February 26, 2013, 12:53 GMT)

The Proteas have already been to the SC, got the t - shirt, outgrown it and handed it down to their younger brother. Our record in these conditions is good, we've taken a boatload of wickets and tons of runs. We have no fear. If we were made to play on the moon we would find a way to compete, no excuses. What do fellow Proteas supporters feel Imran Tahir's chances may be of Test reselection in Oct for the UAE?

Posted by   on (February 26, 2013, 12:22 GMT)

this is my south african 1st eleven that could beat Pakistan on any day 1.Jacques Kallis 2.Robin Peterson 3.Vernon Philander 4.Dale Steyn 5.Kyle Abott 6.Morne Morkel 7.Rory Kleinveldt 8.Wayne Parnell 9.Lonwabo Tsotsobe 10.Imran Tahir 11.Ryan Mclaren and 12th man would be Hashim Amla,,.,... hahahahahaha

Posted by   on (February 26, 2013, 12:18 GMT)

No one knows how SA will go in the SC this time around. The team for the next series is not the same and time have passed and batsmen and bowlers are more experienced. Form of a batsman also plays a huge part on how they will perform. SA should do well there as most of the batsmen played there before and the Newlands pitch provided a dress rehersal for what can be expected. The pakistan supporters are hoping SA to play badly and their team to show that they can bat. Lets wait and see who shows up and play better.

Posted by Stark62 on (February 26, 2013, 11:32 GMT)

@TommytuckerSaffa Pak do have a young spinner named, Raza Hassan!!

Anyway, the last time Steyn bowled in the UAE, he averaged 46.33 and he is the only SA pace bowler that is able to make an impact in the SC, so just imagine how much Vernon and Morne will struggle.

Posted by Marktc on (February 26, 2013, 10:37 GMT)

Steyn has proved he can bowl in Sc, look at his record in India. Philander is untested, but his style of bowling should suit the pitches. Morkel should be replaced my one of the younger bowlers. But I think SA on their record over the last seven years should be up there with the best.

Posted by GlobalCricketLover on (February 26, 2013, 10:21 GMT)

Not sure what CSA is doing. No tests for 7 months!!

Posted by ranpath on (February 26, 2013, 9:49 GMT)

This idea of pitches that favor one type of bowler is something of a myth and more of a mindset with batsmen. The very type of pitch that favors spinners can also be exploited by top notch fast bowlers admittedly with slightly less fantastic results. Either way SA have been an exceptional team in the last decade or so. Congratulations to Smith and his men. All the best to them in the future.

Posted by hotcric01 on (February 26, 2013, 9:44 GMT)

This SA side can be categorized as a "GREAT" only if they can win a series in UAE,IND and SL ,Or at least they should be able to draw.Last time in UAE and India they could only to draw the series and in 2006 they lost in SL as 2-0,but it was a different team to the current team.And also they have lost in durban to SL and Ind,where is a slow and low pitch.SA hasn't a high quality spinner either,which could be a problem in asian pitches.I think Steyn,Morkel and philander still cannot be compared with greats like Marshall.Mcgrath or Akram who performed well in any given condition.This SA pace bowling attack still to prove in less supportive conditions and with the old ball.For now,this SA is unbeatable in pacy,bouncy or swinging conditions anywhere in the world.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (February 26, 2013, 9:29 GMT)

@PkZindabaad Ajmal is 35 years old. Whats PAKs plan when he retires? Surely you have a plan right?

All this winning in the subcontinent as a yardstick for proving you have a world class team is getting tiresome. Last time we were in India we drew the series and back then our team was FAR weaker than it is now. UAE, bring it on, we drew there last time and shouldve won. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, no comment.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2013, 9:15 GMT)

The whole "preparing pitches that benefit the home team" argument is pretty much null and void. South Africa are unbeaten overseas since 2006. You cannot tell me that SC teams dont prepare pitches that assist their spinners, just like Sa/Aus prepare pitches that bounce. The fact that South Africa is such a strong touring team just confirms their prowess and their rightful place at number 1 at the moment.

Posted by dariuscorny on (February 26, 2013, 8:33 GMT)

SC teams should prepare pitches favouring their spinners when teams like Aus,SA,SA B(Eng) visit ,to exploit the conditions as their is nothing wrong to prepare pitches which assist the home team.coz SA,SA B,Aus always play on fast pitches when they play SC teams.But for the sake of future SC teams shud conduct their domestic tournaments on bouncy n seaming pitches just to prepare their breeding cricketers to cope with the conditions abroad.....Pak shud prepare turners to test SA in UAE,im not saying SA will surrender like SA B but yes SA dont hv quality spinners to pose any threat to Pak batsmen and i dont think except Steyn any of the SA bowler cud be a threat there

Posted by PkZindabaad on (February 26, 2013, 7:26 GMT)

Dishing out swinging conditions without being fair to sub continent teams and claiming top position is not fair. Except a white wash in UAE as we will be preparing turners like India by playing to our strengths with Ajmal and Rehman playing in tandem.

Posted by Third_Gear on (February 26, 2013, 7:25 GMT)

When a test match finishes in 3 days , I must say Pakistan is totally unfit to play in this form of cricket.

Posted by Surajdon9 on (February 26, 2013, 7:25 GMT)

Last 15 matches at a glance 9 Tests played away 6 Tests played at home 10 wins - 6 batting first - 4 batting second 5 draws 4 victories by an innings 8 toss wins - 7 toss losses During this period captain Graeme Smith lead the Proteas for the 100th time, and registered his 50th Test win as skipper in the last match. But now onto the real telling stats, the player ones. Batting Hashim Amla: 15 matches - 1526 runs - Ave 72.66 - 5 x 100s - 6 x 50s - HS 311* AB de Villiers: 15 matches - 1285 runs - Ave 64.25 - 4 x 100s - 5 x 50s - HS 169 Jacques Kallis: 13 matches - 1092 runs - Ave 54.60 - 4 x 100a - 3 x 50s - HS 224 Alviro Petersen: 15 matches - 1017 runs - Ave 42.37 - 4 x 100s - 2 x 50s - HS 182 Graeme Smith: 15 matches - 1009 runs - Ave 42.04 - 3 x 100s - 7 x 50s - HS 131

Bowling Dale Steyn: 15 matches - 72 wickets - Ave 21.76 - BBI 6/8 - BBM 11/60 Vernon Philander: 13 matches - 65 wickets - Ave 18.89 - BBI 6/44 - BBM 10/114 Morne Morkel: 14 matches - 49 wickets - Ave 29.46 - BBI 6/23

Posted by ArnoldVDH on (February 26, 2013, 7:11 GMT)

@Jonesy2

Since you give your bias away by citing the current Australian team, please remind me, when did the Proteas last lose a test series in India?

The last 2 times they toured there they came away with a 1-1 series draw.

You need to get your facts right before you talk nonsense.

Also interestingly, when the current Australian team (who have just lost by 8 wickets to India) played above themselves, they still could not beat the Proteas in Aussie land when the Proteas played well within themselves.

But as soon as they proteas found their true selve, oh well, we know what happened in the 3rd and last test match in Perth.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2013, 6:28 GMT)

@jonesy2

South Africa beat Australia, in Australia. Your argument is invalid. And given how your Australian team just got beaten convincingly in India I dont think you have too much room to talk.

South Africa are the number 1 test team in the world at the moment, and the stats are there to show as much.

Posted by jonesy2 on (February 26, 2013, 5:57 GMT)

by the way when was the last time south africa played in india or sri lanka on dirt pitches? right now south africa dont come close to the current australian team, if there was a series played between the two sides on a wide array of pitches, indian pitches, south african pitches, english pitches, australian pitches then south africa would be shown up as the ordinary (decent in conditions that suit them) side they are.

Posted by Amol_Ind_SA on (February 26, 2013, 5:21 GMT)

I TOTALLY agree with '2nd_Slip'...word to word.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2013, 4:52 GMT)

But lols when they will win semi finals and reach finals or they should just play tests and forget about any big achievement like ICC WC/WCT20?

Posted by anver777 on (February 26, 2013, 4:38 GMT)

SA proved again that they are "THE BEST" in business.... deserved to be No.1 test team in the world !!!

Posted by santoshjohnsamuel on (February 26, 2013, 4:38 GMT)

The SA are without doubt are way ahead of all the other teams, and are on their way to stake a claim of being one among the best of Test sides. It would be interesting to watch their progress once Kallis retires (another year?) and Steyn's pace drops (an inevitability) in a couple of years. Until then, let's enjoy their excellent cricket -- a champion paceman, an unbelievable line-and-length bowler, ably supported by two very good bowlers, at least three great batsmen and outstanding fielding. What more could we ask for?

The comparisons will have to wait. Are they as good as the Aussies under Waugh and Ponting? Possibly, but the domination would have to extend for a few more years before assessment. Are they as good as the WI under Clive and Viv, and could the pace attack be compared? Not quite. The WI domination was far too long (15 years) and the champion pacemen too numerous. As the effervescent groundsman in Fire in Babylon said: "ow do you beat a team like that?"

Posted by PlayfromDallas on (February 26, 2013, 1:45 GMT)

"What an EPIC performance by SA". The team that has done EPIC performance was the West Indies of the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. I wondered was South African not getting any TV signals during that era?

Posted by subbass on (February 26, 2013, 0:42 GMT)

I firmly believe that SA are just a decent spinner away from emulating the great WI and Australian sides. And although Kallis is a superb all rounder, I think Gary Sobers will take some beating if you are talking the best of all time.

Massive credit must go to Kirsten also. As he has now made both India and SA world number ones. He is comfortably the best coach around imo.

And also look at how a guy like Abbott comes in and looks another superb seamer. Gonna be a long time before anyone gets the mace back of those superb Saffers.

Posted by peterhrt on (February 26, 2013, 0:00 GMT)

With no more Tests for a while it is a good time to reflect. South Africa's current Test ranking of 128 is their highest yet. Ali Bacher's side managed a retrospective rating of 125. After exclusion, the 1970s South Africans then played 5 matches against international elevens raised by Derrick Robins, comprising mainly those who had played, or would play, Test cricket. The South Africans won three games and drew the other two. Were they stronger than Smith's men? In batting perhaps, but not bowling which was over-reliant on Procter until van der Bijl arrived. The next trip to UAE will not worry the Proteas unduly. Only South Africa has more wins than losses against Pakistan away or on neutral ground. Only South Africa and West Indies have held their own in India. Historically Australia and England have done best against the South Africans. But the Aussies have now been beaten in two successive away series and England in three. There is not much left for this side to achieve.

Posted by sugwas on (February 25, 2013, 23:22 GMT)

I'm a Pom but I like the current SA team. They play hard but seem to do so without the nasty edge of arrogance that surrounded the great Australian team. People like Smith, Amla, AB, Steyn etc are great players but also seem to be decent blokes. No shame in getting beat by this lot. My concern would be how long Kallis want's to go for and how they deal with him hanging up his bat. He brings great ballance to the team and in my view is the best cricketer of his generation if not all time.

Posted by 2nd_Slip on (February 25, 2013, 23:12 GMT)

Truelly a great test team which i reckon would beat the Aus side of the late 90s-early 2000s. The reasons being, in Kallis SA the best allrounder to have ever graced the test arena, Dale Styen over McGrath on any day on any pitch and although not yet proven for durability but judging from what he has done with very little experience over the past year and a half the and also looking at the stats I would say Philander over McGrath too, in Amla, Kallis, ABD,Peterson, Smith,Duminy,Faf SA have a long more reliable and superior batting line up that is very comfortable even in foreign conditions, the only department the Ausies would own is the spin department. With that said this SA batting line up has with ease dealt with the two best spinners in the world at the moment(Swan and Ajmal) and came up tops, so I dont think Warne would cause a problem. Would have loved to see this contest!!

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 22:20 GMT)

Why can't we stop comparing to greatness of era's gone by and just appreciate the fact that it was a great summer for SA. Nothing more, nothing less. Pls no more speculation

Posted by iluvtest on (February 25, 2013, 22:19 GMT)

It may not be easy to SA to win in subcontinent even with their present team. It took a very powerful England team to beat the weakest Indian team of this century and they could do it with SPIN only.To win in India SA need to find a good spinner.

Posted by aavalentine on (February 25, 2013, 21:24 GMT)

Oh, and those who said Amla could not play spin (e.g. Stark62) - please check out his tour of India where he made centuries and double centuries against high-quality Indian spinners (not the type England thrashed).

Posted by aavalentine on (February 25, 2013, 21:21 GMT)

You can't compare sides from different eras, just as you cannot compare great players of different eras.

I remember when the Aussies were dominating, detractors were saying they weren't "great" because (at that time) they had never won a series in India and had lost an Ashes series to England.

There's always nostalgia attached to teams of the past and their past performances romanticised.

Having said all that, I don't believe this SA team is "great"... yet. But who cares? They're undeniably the best team on the circuit at the moment and that's all there is to it.

I don't think SA will lose in the UAE, nor in the sub-continent. Although I do think they will struggle to win unless they arrange a swap arrangement with India or Pakistan (India: Fast bowler for a spin bowler, Pakistan: Opening batsman for a spinner).

Posted by Papa_Tango on (February 25, 2013, 21:15 GMT)

@surlycynic: alrighty then: we are agreed- this SA team should not be compared with the OZ team for several reasons, including how they both did in the other formats.

Posted by warneneverchuck on (February 25, 2013, 21:15 GMT)

SA are certainly unbeatable at the moment in test at home. But when u compare them with great AUS side it's a big mistake. If u compare both the sides, AuS had far better openers like Hayden and langer compare to smith and co. Best no. 7 cricket has seen in gilly, best spinner cricket has seen in warne. McGrath was as good as steyn if not better. Only place Wher SA score more number Is at number 3 wher u have best allrounder of all time in my opinion. Winning 3 world cups in a raw is the biggest achievement I think even more than achieving number 1 rank in test.

Posted by warneneverchuck on (February 25, 2013, 21:06 GMT)

No doubt SA is by far the best team at the moment and will be for another year or two. But comparing them with great AUS side is a joke. AUS dominated world in both formats with far more ease. I have never seen great WI side but was a pleasure watching great AUS side.

Posted by zarasochozarasamjho on (February 25, 2013, 21:01 GMT)

As a Pak supporter, I would congratulate SA for winning the series so emphatically. To be honest, Pak could not compete as in batting, bowling and fielding especially they are not even close to SA. Yes, Pakistan was under-prepared; but that was their choice. The PCB would rather spend money for free trips for their cronies than spend money on sufficient number of first class games before the start of the test series. The T20s and ODIs are coming up, but this is not real cricket. But Pak would lose these too; although the contests shall be closer - only because of the nature of limited over cricket because of restrictions all round.

Posted by crashed on (February 25, 2013, 20:43 GMT)

Beware with 6 months of rest to the next test series - ODI's and T20's and the ICC cup in England take preference which will see yet another side of SA cricket coming alive - success do have a tendency to rub off all the best for the future SA and Gary is still the main coach :)

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 19:51 GMT)

SA need to hold off on talks of legacies.. need to win in the subcontinent multiple times, dominate world cricket for 5-10 years, then they will have really left a legacy behind.. but anyways, you guys are the best the world currently has to offer.. Good on you gents.. Pure Protea

Posted by SurlyCynic on (February 25, 2013, 19:12 GMT)

@ Papa_Tango: When we compare the SA test team to other test teams in the past, we are talking about tests not ODIs. This article is about tests and not ODIs. These days the formats have different teams and different skills. Some people prefer ODIs to tests, I am more interested in tests.

I am happy to admit that the Aussies were a great ODI team, winning three WCs in a row may never be repeated. SA are not a great ODI team. But this discussion belongs in an article on ODI teams so please keep it there.

Posted by dariuscorny on (February 25, 2013, 19:09 GMT)

all this talk of SA being equal to Aus,WI of past is simply premature and seems a joke.I hvnt seen WI of past,but i hv experienced the greatness of Aus in late 90s and 2000s,they won everywhere when there was no t20,batsmen had sound technique in almost every team,precisely during those days every team had good 4-5 quality batsmen,e.g Lara,hooper,Chanderpaul,Dravid,laxman,Ganguly,Sachin,Inzy,Mohd Yousuf,Sanga,Mahela,Attapattu etc who used to test Aussies,but Ausies used to come out on top everytime.they even whitewashed SA also at their own den when SA(which i believe was more stronger than the present team) were a tough opposition.Aus then were a champion whose juggernaut officially stopped when their legends retired.....SA are awesome but not great like Aussies of past.and yes i dont think other than steyn any of the SA bowler cud extract any help from SC pitches..be it rory,abbot,morkel,(or any spinner)......im a neutral fan

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 19:03 GMT)

Some guys here about 2010 uae series, that was different as that time those were totally flat wickets, later on during england series hardly any big score came up. Also it ws draw series, if one can say that SA didnt loose but they couldnt win either with Pak after england disaster that time, new captain new faces, And SA bowlers didnt make much impact.

But i do belive that this SA team is good, UAE pitches support good fst bowling and SA has got. There bastman are good enough to do the job there. May just lacking a big spinner.

SO it will not be that easy for SA and also not easy for Pakistan like england series.

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 18:58 GMT)

SA: great performance by SA. They truly were better side. Only troubled in 2nd match but they showed great character.they deserve to be no1. and looks like they will stay there for longer.They showed they dont rely on 2-3 players. every1 contributed . & every 1 took responsibility. Abott showed that SA has got good bench strength so no worries when big names retire.

Next in UAE, few says they may not be good in Asian, but i think this team has ability to win in Asia. they may need 1 spinner in there

UAE/ SL pitches do support good fast bowlers as seen in england tour. SA have quality bowlers. In india may be they need xtra spinner in. Plus they have good players of spin as well.

They may only face some trouble if proper turner pitches made. but they have good batsman, i dont think they will be troubled much.

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 18:57 GMT)

on talks about UAE, i dont think it will be that easy for SA, and also it will not be that easy for PAkistan. UAE wickets and even SL wickets do support good fast bowling. Like we seen in england tour broad, anderson got wickets every innings. & SA has good quality accurate fast bowlers. SA may be troubled more in india as indian pitches are more turning than UAE/SL.

Added with that their top 5 are very much good players of spin. past is past 2010 series, that was flat tracks as pak wa too defensive after england disaster. they will make turning pitches like england but it will not be easy for PAK and not also SA. But pak will have tiny edge as SA lacking a big spinner and also as in 2nd test on little turning surface Ajmal cause some problems. But thats only tiny edge. not easy.

Posted by Papa_Tango on (February 25, 2013, 18:19 GMT)

@SurlyCynic: I was afraid of that: there is a 1000 character limit. I did not compare SA across the three formats. I simply said: enjoy your Test Cricket dominance and perhaps rue your less than stellar performance in the other formats. Where is the comparison? It is those who compare SA to OZ for instance, who ARE, indirectly: OZ was great across both the formats prevalent at that time - TEST and ODI. This SA side is not. Take it up with them. When anyone compares SA to OZ they tend to forget that the OZ side was magnificent across both the formats - a measure of their greatness, whereas this SA side has not achieved the same dominance in the other formats prevailing today. The OZ side was the same mostly, in both formats whereas today the sides are different, therefore I am not sure this SA side can ever be compared to that OZ side, if you wish to compare across the formats.

Posted by brusselslion on (February 25, 2013, 17:25 GMT)

The time for ranking this SA team in the list of all-time greats will be when the bulk of it has retired. There are very few good, let alone great, teams playing Test cricket currently but that's hardly SA's fault; they can only beat what's put in front of them and they seem to be doing that with relentless regularity.

Posted by ToeCruncher on (February 25, 2013, 16:58 GMT)

Rightly said, the SA squad still has to face their sternest test, beating subcontinental teams on their own terms. However, SA arguably has the best chance of beating the asian teams on asian soil. Reasons for this are: 1. SA batsman play spin well. All masterclass bowlers will trouble batsmen if the conditions are conducive. But the SA squad has shown that it can adapt, and counter, good bowling 2. The SA bowlers are varied and disciplined. Even without a matchwinning spinner, the SA bowlers are of such quality a person could reasonably predict that the SA bowlers can bowl any opposition out twice. 3. This team is experienced in winning, and have the knowledge of what it takes to win.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (February 25, 2013, 16:51 GMT)

@Papa_Tango: Funny how you say "anyone who compares performances across the three formats needs a bit more cricket education" just after you've compared performances across the formats!

Noone is claiming that SA is a top ODI or T20 side. I've always preferred test cricket so I'm happy right now. As for 'predicting future dominance', please see my earlier comment where I say we should beware of this.

Posted by Papa_Tango on (February 25, 2013, 16:20 GMT)

@SurlyCynic: Surely we are not relying on the last time SA went to UAE to predict what is going to happen this October? If that is the case......shall we dredge up all sorts of SA histories prior to the current team and see how they did for that matter any other team? I am not a great proponent of historical comparisons in sports, therefore any comparisons with the WI and Oz of yore are meaningless to me till enough time has passed - ONE summer of dominance does not make history other than within that time frame. Enjoy your CURRENT Test Cricket dominance sir (and predict all the future dominance you want - only time will tell) perhaps rue your less than stellar CURRENT record in ODIs and T-20s and we will see how SA does the next time they play Test cricket and how they do the next time they play ODIs and T-20s. The only opinion that I will express is that anyone who compares performances across the three formats needs a bit more cricket education. Good Luck all and sundry!!!

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 16:15 GMT)

As a Derbyshire fan -good to see Robin Petersen doing well. He was good for us with bat and ball, and a good team man, and liked by the fans.

Posted by Stark62 on (February 25, 2013, 16:13 GMT)

@Surlycynic The pitches have changed drastically, since the last time SA toured and that is very much evident, when Eng came here and got whitewashed.

@AKS286 AB is a good player of spin but you can't say the same for Smith, Amla and Kallis because they looked vulnerable against Ajmal in the second Test.

@Mihil Ranathunga I have no idea what your trying to say!!

Posted by Gareth_Bain on (February 25, 2013, 15:56 GMT)

What SC said:

"Enjoyed the article, but I really hope journalists hold off on all the comparisons to the Windies and Aussie teams. Not losing an away series since 2006 remains a great achievement, but SA have only been #1 since last year. Let's not fall into the trap of hubris that England fell into, with all their talk of 'legacies' and 'dynasties'. Then they went to the UAE and got whitewashed before losing to SA at home. Let's keep calm and aim to do better than that. "

Amen to that!

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 15:51 GMT)

test cricket is the premier and most interesting format of the game. it has more quality . southafrica has been superb this summer. the current South African Test squad has shown fearlessness that is matched by precision . they have the best pace attack and apool of bowlers which can step into big occassion. kyle abbott is the example .

Posted by SurlyCynic on (February 25, 2013, 15:23 GMT)

@ Stark62: Remind me what happened the last time SA went to the UAE?

Posted by AKS286 on (February 25, 2013, 15:22 GMT)

@Posted by Stark62 on (February 25, 2013, 15:05 GMT) SA players are not good players of spin really? really? Have you listen the name of Kallis, Amla, AB,Smith. THE DEADLY BARRAGE (Steyn, morkel, phil,tsotsobe, de lange & now abbott) wil destroy any Fortress anywhere, any pitch. UAE....? come to NORTH POLE or sahara SA will produce same result. THE DEADLY BARRAGE- Bowlers of Mass Batting Destruction.

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 15:19 GMT)

@stark62-SA might not win against pakistan at UAE not because pak is any good but SA would be playing against the weather most of the time.. lol!

Posted by Testcricketistop on (February 25, 2013, 15:16 GMT)

Nonsufficitorbis.

If that makes you feel better to believe, then go for it mate.

Presonally I think it is just sad that you think that way.

Posted by zulu1980 on (February 25, 2013, 15:15 GMT)

@nonsufficitorbis: your post is absolutely ridiculous at least learn to appreciate quality don't be blinded by emotions and ignorance. Yes SA is no. 1 team in the world and they deserve it. Don't compare test cricket with T-20. Ask any cricketers, test is the real deal, T-20 is what it is called commercialization of cricket, and doing it bit to gain global attention. Didn't you enjoy watching players like Tendulkar, Kallis, Steyn, Warne, Mcgrath, Murali, Wasim, Waqar, Holding etc etc who lived for their quality and epitomized the game cricket. It is test match that can only bring players with similar quality in future.

Posted by Stark62 on (February 25, 2013, 15:05 GMT)

SA might win in SL and Ind but they have no chance in the UAE against Pak!!

Not even Eng with Swann and Panesar could stop the men in green from whitewashing them. Eng won in Ind because of those two and the fact, that Ind don't have quality spinners to trouble batsmen (Aussies don't have good players of spin, except Clarke).

Ajmal alone nearly won the second Test for Pak with just a bit of turn, so just imagine with him, Rehman and Hafeez bowling in tandem on tracks that will have sharp turn and bounce from day one.

Posted by AKS286 on (February 25, 2013, 14:55 GMT)

@ MAR00N5 on (February 25, 2013, 14:09 GMT) Is Peterson is not a decent spinner? all the damages are done by AFRICAN DEADLY BARRAGE (Steyn, morkel, phil,tsotsobe, de lange & now abbott). So, he don't have much to do. SA team is lacking only one thing A good Test all- rounder. Because there is no backup of Legendary Kallis or even a good balanced all rounder. Remember B.Macmillan, Klusener, Cronje, Kemp. Albie & Maclaren are T20 tail finishers not good enough. They must find a genuine All-rounder.

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 14:39 GMT)

@nonsufficitorbis, do you guys ever stop, trying to pick holes in everything.

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 14:35 GMT)

@Arthur, I think that while they may have only recently acquired the number one ranking, perhaps a statistical anomaly more than anything else, this current side is actually on a journey of near constant success in Test cricket dated back to 06/07, that's a good 6 or 7 years. In that time they have played in 23 series, won 16, drawn 6 and lost 1. Not quite up with the great WI and Aus teams, but already by some margin the next best record looking at things statistically. Direct comparison are odious and misleading, certainly one can point to the similarity to the WI team for the reason of the success, one built on fast bowling and good batting, but I don't think it is helpful to equate the bowling attack up with the WI attack, nor do I think the article tries to do this. If SA lose in UAE (and yet still retain #1) will that dent this teams legacy. I doubt it unless it is the beginning of a longer decline. Time will tell.

Posted by dschreuder on (February 25, 2013, 14:34 GMT)

@nonsufficitorbis - that has got to be the single most ridiculous post I have read on this site.

Test cricket will always be the premier format, just ask people who play the game. Shorter formats are much less reliant on sustained quality and can be won or lost by teams with far less ability. Sponsors throwing money at a format that allows them to splash their brands in short bite-sized chunks that brain dead consumers can tolerate makes sense, that doesn't mean that one is superior to the other.

As you mention yourself the other teams are not quality, hence they rely on formats where inferior players can prevail against superior ones using a combination of their skill and good fortune.

I think this Pakistan side are better than their performance in the tests and will be more challenging in the UAE.

Posted by Kingzzzz on (February 25, 2013, 14:31 GMT)

Gate revenue? don't think it makes a difference as there were hardly any crowd in all those 3 test matches :)

Posted by nonsufficitorbis on (February 25, 2013, 14:11 GMT)

The biggest factors for South Africa being no.1 right now:

a) test cricket is not the premier format right now. sponsors, spectators, money, everything is in t-20/IPL. Look at world t-20 tournaments and you will see the real South African trend of choking being intact. [20years of choking legacy]

b) The competition is shallow. Mostly because most teams like India, Srilanka, West Indies, Newzealand and pakistan don't care for tests as much as they care for t-20s. spectator/tv ratings for tests have always been inferior to LOI in sub-continent.

The most prized title in cricket now is not that ugly mace they give for no.1 in test cricket. It is the WC - either in ODIs or t-20s. In both those tournaments, south africa have never reached a final, forget winning it.

Celebrating south africa being no.1 in test cricket is like celebrating that India has won the kabaddi world cup - does it really matter, when the sport itself is so deprived of quality teams?

Posted by Kohli--The_Messi_of_Cricket on (February 25, 2013, 14:09 GMT)

Duminy in place of Elgar and any decent spinner in place of Peterson will make this team invincible.

Posted by ProdigyA on (February 25, 2013, 14:06 GMT)

With the kind of quality pak has in its side, it was just a formality for SA to beat them, this is not a surprise and would not carry a lot of points.

Posted by DGIFT on (February 25, 2013, 14:01 GMT)

SA is growing and nearing perfection.. But only wish is that they dont abandon Imran Tahir i feel he will be a Huge threat in the Sub Continent if they show him support he will get his confidence back. Robby P is a fighter and great competitor but he is Not a threat. I'd love to see Tahir & JP bowling in Sub continent rather than Robby. Morkel,Steyn,Philander,Tahir.Jp,Kallis = Great Attack

Posted by Wexfordwonder on (February 25, 2013, 14:00 GMT)

I reckon I could agree with that, so far the 3rd best team and only time will tell if they can become anything more than that.

Posted by Arthur on (February 25, 2013, 13:58 GMT)

Proteas are a fantastic team, more than deserved of their Test Mace status. .. great balance in bowling, batting and brilliant fielding side. Must admit though, I get a bit miffed when people start to compare their pace attack with that of the West Indies quartet of the late 70s and 80s. One must ask writer Firdose, whether she has seen the Windies quartet play or does she base that statement on statistics? Garner, Marshall, Roberts and Holding were GREATS and they reigned in an era where opposition were top class. Look at the Test championship these days - given Pakistan and NZ performances; are they even deserving of their test status? SA's dominance with ball also hides away many of the deficiences that have been exposed in their batting - remember Faf's miracle effort saved them against Australia, and there have been more than one top order collapses. The bowlers of course saved their bacon. I'm hoping people can stop the comparisons ... let's see two years down the line!!!!

Posted by SohailMirza on (February 25, 2013, 13:54 GMT)

Abbot played only one match and you have started comparing him with 80's windies attack ... and also did you forgot pakistan's attack when Imran, sarfraz, Wasim and Waqar were all playing together OR when Wasim, Waqar and Shoibeeeeeee (speed star) were all playing together Or when Wasim, Waqar, and Muhammad Zahid were playing togather? do you remember ODI's in Aus when Zahid, waqar and wasim were simply unable to play?

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 13:49 GMT)

Great performance by south africa and many congrats to them.... but i would like to say that beating Pakistan who rely on spin (Ajmal & Rehman). on pace wickets is as easy as it gets... Pakistan going through a rough patch when it comes to fast bowling and they were underpreapared for this sort of a challenge... i can say with a lot of belief that when South Africa comes to UAE the result will be a lot different. Misbah, Younis, Asad and Azhar Ali are alot more comfortable and better in UAE than most of the batsmen in world cricket right now and Umar Gul can reverse the bowl there plus our strength the spin attack so it will be a real challenge for south africa there and i hope Pakistan regain there lost respect as a Good side in that series..

Posted by SurlyCynic on (February 25, 2013, 13:44 GMT)

Don't think you can call the Newlands track "tailor-made conditions", as both captains commented on how unusual it was to see a slow turner in SA and Ajmal took a 10-fer. For 'tailor-made conditions' I think more of the Wanderers or the dust bowl India are playing Australia on.

Enjoyed the article, but I really hope journalists hold off on all the comparisons to the Windies and Aussie teams. Not losing an away series since 2006 remains a great achievement, but SA have only been #1 since last year. Let's not fall into the trap of hubris that England fell into, with all their talk of 'legacies' and 'dynasties'. Then they went to the UAE and got whitewashed before losing to SA at home. Let's keep calm and aim to do better than that.

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 13:41 GMT)

Good article, though in the context of the SA side proving its greatness I can't help wonder why you made no mention of SA beating both Australia and England away from home. Both of those series were far more conclusive evidence of a potentially great side than the formality of winning home series against the 4th and 8th ranked sides in the world.

Posted by   on (February 25, 2013, 13:38 GMT)

so far the 3rd best team of all time after those windies and oz teams!

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