South Africa news December 5, 2012

Seven batsmen give South Africa X-factor - Kirsten

With sufficient depth, Gary Kirsten believes South Africa are readying for an extended stay at the top of the rankings
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South Africa's lengthened batting line-up is the driving force behind their ascendance to the world No.1 title and the defence of it, according to coach Gary Kirsten. In their last two series, South Africa played seven frontline batsmen, which Kirsten said gave the team an "X-factor," other countries do not have.

"We can pick a No.7 batter and that has helped us in certain situations. We don't take that combination lightly. We know how important that is to our Test side in terms of the performances that we all want. There might come a time when we need to look at it another way but for now we have that," Kirsten said at the team's arrival in Cape Town.

After Mark Boucher was forced to retire with a severe eye injury ahead of the England tour, AB de Villiers was tasked with the responsibility of wicketkeeping. JP Duminy played as the seventh batsman in England and would have done the same in Australia had a ruptured Achilles' not cut his tour short.

Faf du Plessis replaced Duminy and played an important part in South Africa saving the match in Adelaide and winning in Perth to clinch the series. But, both Duminy and du Plessis have masked the under-performance of South Africa's No. 4. Jacques Rudolph and Dean Elgar have a combined average of 21.5 in that position over the last six Tests.

Rather than focus on the one chink in their armour, Kirsten praised the bench strength for being able to make the step up. "What's important for us is depth. We need to make sure if we have an injury, we have guys who can fill the gap," he said. "I'm encouraged by the players who have come through over the last year."

Since Kirsten took over as the national coach, South Africa have debuted six players and only Dean Elgar and Imran Tahir did not make significant marks on the international stage. Vernon Philander, Marchant de Lange, Rory Kleinveldt and du Plessis have all impressed in varying degrees. Under Kirsten's watch, Robin Peterson has made a successful comeback to Test cricket as well.

For that, Kirsten is impressed. "If we have Robbie there in place of Imran, that's a good thing. To have a person who can play if someone is not in form or gets injured. If we have a Rory in place of one of the seamers; that's also a good thing."

With sufficient depth, Kirsten believes South Africa are readying for an extended stay at the top of the rankings. "It's something that we've set our sights on. It's been an incredible year and it requires time for the players to reflect on that year. We wanted to become the No.1 team in the world and then to hold that position.

"We accomplished two very big targets this year in England and Australia, which is just massive and now we will definitely set our sights on how we can hold that position. It is important to us, this team wants to leave a legacy behind and we are excited by where we are at the moment."

South Africa played nine out of ten Test matches in 2012 away and the home fans have not had the opportunity to see them perform since they rose to the top. Now that the summer has arrived, that will be the chance. Over the course of the next three months, South Africa host New Zealand and Pakistan for five Test matches, three T20s and eight ODIs.

While the Tests will be an opportunity to show off their ranking, the limited-overs matches will form part of a building process. The next World T20 is two years away and the fifty over World Cup three. That will give Kirsten the room he needs to translate the achievements of the Test side to a campaign for ICC silverware.

"It takes time to transfer the success," he said. "In the Test side, we've got some great players and its not to say we can't achieve the same level of success in the one-day side but it takes time. We've got a really good team culture in the Test side and we've certainly tried to do whatever we can in the one-day component to build the same culture but I don't think it will come around as quickly."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • StaalBurgher on December 6, 2012, 15:14 GMT

    Oh my, the genuises are out again today. 7 batters is not a "defensive" tactic. It is purely a quirk of AB being able to keep. It is the only change from when Boucher played. Or are you saying that 6 batters, Boucher and 4 bowlers was also a defensive tactic? Dear me. There are four bowlers; Steyn, Morkel, Philander and a spinner. Then we have Kallis (maybe), du Plessis and Elgar to help give the other bowlers a breather. Almost no team field 5 specialist bowlers. They MIGHT field 4 bowlers + 1 bowling all-rounder maybe but often it is a batting all-rounder. And the reason for that is because with 5 specialist bowlers there are usually not enough overs to do around. You end up under using a bowler thus wasting "capacity" for more runs on the board.

  • mahjut on December 6, 2012, 15:09 GMT

    oh yeah Lilian ... just for the fun of arguement. Robin Peterson has a better SR than Ajmal ;) and his 32 ave in Tests is comparable enough with the likes of Swann, Lyon, Panesar, Ashwin, Ojha...

  • StaalBurgher on December 6, 2012, 15:06 GMT

    There is no point in playing Tsolekile. The only reason he is in the squad is because the selectors want the real replacement, Quinton de Kock, to play in the domestic league to gain more experience. Playing Tsolekile drastically weakens the batting. So why on Earth would you field a weaker team? Do people just have an overwhelming desire to post something so they come up with suggestions like that? Very akin to the Smith-haters. They have no idea what they are talking about.

  • mahjut on December 6, 2012, 15:00 GMT

    @LilianThomson ... Dale is very good at self preservation - there was nothing in the wicket for him in the first two matches and he looked lost but as soon as there was something his paced returned. I don't think that's an awful tactic though it is a bit negative ... Philander cannot become bad overnight just as he did not become good overnight - he worked hard at First Class level to make his way back into the team and he is still a very good operator who can bat a bit too. I think Tahir has clouded the slow bowling options - JP and RP will do a very tidy job giving the quicks a rest and maybe taking some in the process. i think PK will be another good test for SA to overcome - they downed the #1 team on their own turf [completely nullifying the, then, best spinner in the world] and beat an aus team who haven't lost a series under Clarke (for a fair few series) so i imagine they will cope with PK in a like manner - it won't be a walkover but it should be done ...

  • therealutopianindigent on December 6, 2012, 13:50 GMT

    Jacques Rudolph single-handedly saved the second test in England and staved off a series defeat in New Zealand with a century. He also shared in various significant partnerships, even accellerating the run-rate when required, despite visibly struggling. He also played a solid role in the last Newlands test.

    Yes, he has not performed well at all and it is logical for SA to try another no.6 but to say he did nothing, and to combine his runs with the 0/2 of Elgar, is ignorant.

    His worst day was in Adelaide and who can say that hasn't happened to them too? FaF had to save that test all on his own, it wasn't just Rudolph who succumbed. Tests are about partnerships and go study the stats on that before so lightly writing off a player's contribution at this level.

  • Dale_Pain on December 6, 2012, 12:43 GMT

    Of course SA hasn't really had 7 batters the last 2 tours.... The Elgar/Rudolph spot hasn't done any batting! Perhaps there is room for Tsolekile, with Faf at 6? Robin Peterson at 8 and Philander at 9 sounds pretty reasonable for batting depth..

  • on December 6, 2012, 12:29 GMT

    The question beckons to be asked, why was boucher still a feature even earlier this year. Boucher was a passenger for ten years kept in that position by his buddies kallis and smith. Bring in de lange for kallis and henry/kunn for smith make AB captain.

  • jabrankundi on December 6, 2012, 12:21 GMT

    Why does everyone keep talking about Kallis' replacement? Kallis is not replacable. If replacing him was such a simple task, every team in the world would have a kallis of their own. When kallis is gone, SA will get used to life without him. Every team does.

    Can you think of a replacement for Ponting? Read what their selector said today. They were shielding hughes(candidate for #3 spot) from SA because they did not want to shatter his confidence. Quiney was the lamb. Now imagine Kallis retiring today. There is AB, Amla, Duminy and DuPlessis. Do you understand now that SA are in a very good position to let Kallis retire? They are keeping 7 batsmen so that when Kallis retires, they will still have 6 bats and the option of an added bowler.

  • LillianThomson on December 6, 2012, 9:57 GMT

    7 Batters and 4 specialist bowlers should easily beat NZ next month. But they then face a resurgent Pakistan, who have two excellent left-arm quicks plus Umar Gul and Ajmal. I suspect that SA will retain the 7 batters for that series. But with Steyn down on pace, Philander looking less-than-lethal in Australia and no decent spinner in sight, I don't think that 4 bowlers plus Kallis will be enough against Pakistan. Ultimately it is a defensive tactic.

  • Romanticstud on December 6, 2012, 9:36 GMT

    If you take the top 5 ... Kallis 57, Smith 50, Amla 50, De Villiers 49, Petersen 40 ... You get 246 for 5 ... Now if you take the Bowlers Steyn 24, Morkel 30, Philander 18 ... If each takes 3 Wickets ... 216 for 9 ... Those stats would say why SA is No. 1 ... With Du Plessis, Duminy, at 6 and 7 and Peterson at 8 you could have a well rounded team ... Kallis also has the backup of 282 wickets that makes him a brilliant breakthrough bowler ... Duminy and Du Plessis can also turn their arm over with the old ball ... South Africa have an unfair advantage over most teams ... Kallis gives the batting/bowling extra depth ... De Villiers as keeper adds a batsman ... remember too that South Africa are going to lose Kallis at some stage ... But even with him gone that means 6 batsmen and the option of selecting an extra bowler ...

  • StaalBurgher on December 6, 2012, 15:14 GMT

    Oh my, the genuises are out again today. 7 batters is not a "defensive" tactic. It is purely a quirk of AB being able to keep. It is the only change from when Boucher played. Or are you saying that 6 batters, Boucher and 4 bowlers was also a defensive tactic? Dear me. There are four bowlers; Steyn, Morkel, Philander and a spinner. Then we have Kallis (maybe), du Plessis and Elgar to help give the other bowlers a breather. Almost no team field 5 specialist bowlers. They MIGHT field 4 bowlers + 1 bowling all-rounder maybe but often it is a batting all-rounder. And the reason for that is because with 5 specialist bowlers there are usually not enough overs to do around. You end up under using a bowler thus wasting "capacity" for more runs on the board.

  • mahjut on December 6, 2012, 15:09 GMT

    oh yeah Lilian ... just for the fun of arguement. Robin Peterson has a better SR than Ajmal ;) and his 32 ave in Tests is comparable enough with the likes of Swann, Lyon, Panesar, Ashwin, Ojha...

  • StaalBurgher on December 6, 2012, 15:06 GMT

    There is no point in playing Tsolekile. The only reason he is in the squad is because the selectors want the real replacement, Quinton de Kock, to play in the domestic league to gain more experience. Playing Tsolekile drastically weakens the batting. So why on Earth would you field a weaker team? Do people just have an overwhelming desire to post something so they come up with suggestions like that? Very akin to the Smith-haters. They have no idea what they are talking about.

  • mahjut on December 6, 2012, 15:00 GMT

    @LilianThomson ... Dale is very good at self preservation - there was nothing in the wicket for him in the first two matches and he looked lost but as soon as there was something his paced returned. I don't think that's an awful tactic though it is a bit negative ... Philander cannot become bad overnight just as he did not become good overnight - he worked hard at First Class level to make his way back into the team and he is still a very good operator who can bat a bit too. I think Tahir has clouded the slow bowling options - JP and RP will do a very tidy job giving the quicks a rest and maybe taking some in the process. i think PK will be another good test for SA to overcome - they downed the #1 team on their own turf [completely nullifying the, then, best spinner in the world] and beat an aus team who haven't lost a series under Clarke (for a fair few series) so i imagine they will cope with PK in a like manner - it won't be a walkover but it should be done ...

  • therealutopianindigent on December 6, 2012, 13:50 GMT

    Jacques Rudolph single-handedly saved the second test in England and staved off a series defeat in New Zealand with a century. He also shared in various significant partnerships, even accellerating the run-rate when required, despite visibly struggling. He also played a solid role in the last Newlands test.

    Yes, he has not performed well at all and it is logical for SA to try another no.6 but to say he did nothing, and to combine his runs with the 0/2 of Elgar, is ignorant.

    His worst day was in Adelaide and who can say that hasn't happened to them too? FaF had to save that test all on his own, it wasn't just Rudolph who succumbed. Tests are about partnerships and go study the stats on that before so lightly writing off a player's contribution at this level.

  • Dale_Pain on December 6, 2012, 12:43 GMT

    Of course SA hasn't really had 7 batters the last 2 tours.... The Elgar/Rudolph spot hasn't done any batting! Perhaps there is room for Tsolekile, with Faf at 6? Robin Peterson at 8 and Philander at 9 sounds pretty reasonable for batting depth..

  • on December 6, 2012, 12:29 GMT

    The question beckons to be asked, why was boucher still a feature even earlier this year. Boucher was a passenger for ten years kept in that position by his buddies kallis and smith. Bring in de lange for kallis and henry/kunn for smith make AB captain.

  • jabrankundi on December 6, 2012, 12:21 GMT

    Why does everyone keep talking about Kallis' replacement? Kallis is not replacable. If replacing him was such a simple task, every team in the world would have a kallis of their own. When kallis is gone, SA will get used to life without him. Every team does.

    Can you think of a replacement for Ponting? Read what their selector said today. They were shielding hughes(candidate for #3 spot) from SA because they did not want to shatter his confidence. Quiney was the lamb. Now imagine Kallis retiring today. There is AB, Amla, Duminy and DuPlessis. Do you understand now that SA are in a very good position to let Kallis retire? They are keeping 7 batsmen so that when Kallis retires, they will still have 6 bats and the option of an added bowler.

  • LillianThomson on December 6, 2012, 9:57 GMT

    7 Batters and 4 specialist bowlers should easily beat NZ next month. But they then face a resurgent Pakistan, who have two excellent left-arm quicks plus Umar Gul and Ajmal. I suspect that SA will retain the 7 batters for that series. But with Steyn down on pace, Philander looking less-than-lethal in Australia and no decent spinner in sight, I don't think that 4 bowlers plus Kallis will be enough against Pakistan. Ultimately it is a defensive tactic.

  • Romanticstud on December 6, 2012, 9:36 GMT

    If you take the top 5 ... Kallis 57, Smith 50, Amla 50, De Villiers 49, Petersen 40 ... You get 246 for 5 ... Now if you take the Bowlers Steyn 24, Morkel 30, Philander 18 ... If each takes 3 Wickets ... 216 for 9 ... Those stats would say why SA is No. 1 ... With Du Plessis, Duminy, at 6 and 7 and Peterson at 8 you could have a well rounded team ... Kallis also has the backup of 282 wickets that makes him a brilliant breakthrough bowler ... Duminy and Du Plessis can also turn their arm over with the old ball ... South Africa have an unfair advantage over most teams ... Kallis gives the batting/bowling extra depth ... De Villiers as keeper adds a batsman ... remember too that South Africa are going to lose Kallis at some stage ... But even with him gone that means 6 batsmen and the option of selecting an extra bowler ...

  • LordKratos on December 6, 2012, 9:14 GMT

    Some people need to get it through their heads that AB is keeper! An extraodinarily talented batsman but a keeper nonetheless. The only reason he wasn't keeping was because of boucher period. SA don't need a keeper to replace AB they need a batsman to do that

  • Prabhash1985 on December 6, 2012, 8:50 GMT

    They simply deserve number one. It should have been since Alan Donald era, Hansy Cronje era... Bit late to get it, but they fully deserve it more than any team on earth... I am so happy about the though I'm some other citizen... :)

  • Kirstenfan on December 6, 2012, 8:49 GMT

    Details - Rudolph and Elgar have not batted 4, Kallis bats 4!

    How can you say Kleinveldt had a good debut - he took 0 wickets, bowled a shower of no balls and got smacked around at more than 5 an over.

  • viking_legend on December 6, 2012, 8:27 GMT

    IMO Amla has brought about a difference in this team. Due to him being consistent and making big hundreds, he has forced others to compete. Kallis and ABdv have both taken the challenge to compete with him but others have also felt the impact of his success. From the interview that Mike Haysman did with Alviro Peterson after the Perth win, Peterson said he always feels pressure to perform and contibute with Amla, Kallis and ABdv always making doing their bit. Goes to show that they are all trying their best to excell in their roles and stay in the team. I think that that sort of culture is healthy for the team but new talent will take time to find their feet and compete against these big guns.

    I also think that Kirsten is one of the greatest, if not the greatest coach of all time. WHAT A LEGEND OF THE GAME!!!

  • KunzMan on December 6, 2012, 7:09 GMT

    Am sorry but still this side doesn't look like it will "dominate" test cricket. By dominate I mean crush oppositions in almost every match. Also, the longevity of number one is a question for more than a year. Its like the XI in the Perth test are the best possible XI SA can field, alongwith Duminy. But then what after that? What about contingency planning? No ideal replacement in case an opening batsman gets injured, replacement of Kallis, good wk/batsman (De Kock is there), a good spinner other than Peterson, Left Arm Fast Bowler (not an inconsistent Parnell), a fit fast bowling bench of atleast two more (Marchant de Lange needs to be fitter).

  • KunzMan on December 6, 2012, 7:02 GMT

    Just while reading the comments, one thing that struck me was a vague possibility that SA might persist with AB as a keeper till Kallis retires. For me Tsolekile is not a good option from two view points. Talent and Age. No offence to his supporters but including him in the side will make the tail longer.

    SA will need AB as a pure batsman once the king calls it a day which will be according to me two years max. This will be an ideal time to draft De Kock in by playing him more in ODIs and T20s and first class cricket. Already quite a talent, a couple of years of temperament building will go a long way! Hope Kirsten somehow reads this :p

  • daager on December 6, 2012, 6:37 GMT

    @ TheCricketeer - I was not on ABs back - I rate him extremely highly - enough to think that he shouldnt keep. I dont think it was right for people to be overly critical as his keeping was good, but he was definitely affected by the workload. Kallis wont last forever, and then we have arguably our most talented bastman shouldering a massive workload. Not to mention hes a candidate for the captaincy when Smith goes.

    @wanatawu - well why pick him in the squad then? Give him a crack I think, and his attitude has been great - especially with Ntinis poorly timed comments. Transformation is a reality whether we like it or not - hes got to be given a go, and its perfect to pick him against NZ and Pakistan, if he cant hack it against them then the question has been answered and De Kock must come in.

  • anver777 on December 6, 2012, 4:53 GMT

    SA's combination is great right now... as said Tahir's hopes of a test return was disturbed somewhat by hardworking Robin who bowled magnificently in the decider. When Duminy returns after the injury then only option is to replace Elgar who did nothing in the match !!!!

  • TommytuckerSaffa on December 6, 2012, 4:53 GMT

    @Somersetjord. I'm looking forward to the home series too and I hope S.A. can raise their game at home as we have a history of being complacent and not being competitive enough in home games. Hence why it's taken so long to get to no.1.

    I think kallis and Steyn are good for another 2-3 yrs, Faff looks the business along with JP for our middle/lower order. With AB de villiers saying he wants and likes to keep, makes me worried that Quinton de cock won't get game time. He needs to be introduced into T20 and ODI cricket asap.

  • on December 6, 2012, 4:28 GMT

    Gary Kirsten is International Cricket Coach Extrodinaire take it from me an Indian.

  • cricketdotcom on December 6, 2012, 4:15 GMT

    The windies & Aussies are the 2 Teams who dominated on cricket world for many years Now South Africa turn, This Team has the all Quality that wanted 4 domination, Unfortunately South Africa U-19 team didn't won the world cup this time but his bowers has stun the whole world with speed and fire power, his captain looks like young Ricky playing, and Quinton De Kock is surely a baby Gilchrist, awesome keeper and Great coach Gary Kirsten he is a equal 2 best IN the World Dev Watmore ........ Bets of Luck Proteas.

  • HawK89 on December 6, 2012, 3:27 GMT

    It's Amla, Kallis, AB de Villiers, Steyn and Philander that give SA an X-factor. Smith and FAF if you count taking guard at outside off stump. I didn't see 7 SA batsmen during the tour.

  • on December 6, 2012, 3:12 GMT

    Mr. Gary Kirsten has some special things in him that make any team a special and makes him proud of. I do not think anybody has heard any bad things about him, no controversy, straight-forward attitude. I wished he would stayed with Team Indian for another 3 to 4 years. All the best Mr. Gary Kirsten.

  • satish619chandar on December 6, 2012, 2:51 GMT

    I think for tiem being, ABD can be the test keeper and ODI/T20 teams can have ther keepers. I would have a test team like Smith, Alviro, Amla, Kallis, ABD, Duminy, Faf, robbie, Philander, Steyn, Morkel.. Awesome batting lineup and a good bowling attack too. If they need more backup in seam department, they can replace Duminy or Faf with Albie Morkel. This way, they won't have the allrounder balance affected too. If the guys stay fit for longer period of time, they can stay on top for some time now. Smith and Kallis might retire in one or two years. Till then, SA can dominate without any issues.

  • on December 6, 2012, 2:35 GMT

    I find it hard to believe that SAF does not have a wicket keeper who can bat. No matter how much they try to convince themselves that AB is comfortable with gloves but the stats don't lie. Prior to taking the gloves AB's record in each and every series in the past 4 years was nothing but exceptional, I don't understand why they would want to trade a match winner for an all-rounder. It makes me sad to see him loosing his touch can sacrificing his skills for the sake of team management.

  • ac_Indian on December 6, 2012, 2:11 GMT

    Come on Gary... come back to coach Indian team man :) we need you again ! Anyways, congratulations to SA on the phenomenal recent successes.

  • Robster1 on December 6, 2012, 1:57 GMT

    But who will bat at no 6 in the forthcoming series against the Kiwis. Elgar may well get another couple of tests but if not him then who's next - Roussouw or an all rounder like Morris ? de Kock even.

  • MinusZero on December 6, 2012, 0:21 GMT

    SA's performance is underlined to see that they played 9 out of 10 tests away in 2012. Australia played 7 at home and only 3 away. Do the rankings take that into account? England also played more away series.

  • liz1558 on December 5, 2012, 20:36 GMT

    Absolutely right - SA are predominantly a batting side with one great - in fact the only great- bowler in world cricket: Steyn. Take him out and SA are on the same level as England and Aus.

  • Nuxxy on December 5, 2012, 20:22 GMT

    It's not ABs keeping that bothers me. He keeps decently. What worries me is... a) keeping is a no-no for someone with a chronic back problem. It would be tragic for AB's career to end prematurely from back trouble. He is thus not a long-term option; and... b) he is a better bat than keeper. We need a number 4 that performs regularly. If he wants to stay keeper and they want the 7 batsman lineup, fine, but move him down to 5 or 6. But that would also be a tragic waste of his talent.

  • RameshRayaprolu on December 5, 2012, 19:15 GMT

    The team coached by Gary is always at #1 in all formats of the game...one or two failures here and there are always on the cards, but overall the teams consistency is awesome !! whether it was India or SA, Gary showed the rest of the world, how to be an international coach !!

    Ofcourse, replacement of Kallis can be difficult, but I dont think SA will go down the ladder if Kallis is out of the team. They have enough talent, and Gary can use it appropriately !!

  • Rahulbose on December 5, 2012, 18:56 GMT

    Gary is fast becoming the top coach in International cricket. For the SA team, the key players are Kallis and Steyn. Steyn still looks good for 2-3 years, but will be interesting if this team will stay dominant after Kallis.

  • on December 5, 2012, 18:42 GMT

    Perhaps replacing Kallis is not easy (I noticed an off topic discussion brewing between the lines), but his average of 56 can easily be replaced in home games where SA can drop the spinner and put in Parnell or Morris in combination with Philander who was not there up until recently. For away series (subcontinent), SA can pick Tahir or tor someone to compliment Dumminy like Smuts or Elgar.

  • on December 5, 2012, 18:23 GMT

    you can't have devilliers keeping for me in tests....it does affect his batting even if he says it doesnt...and i know his innings in perth was amazing but that was just once...he is not at his fluent best since he took over in eng...r thr no keepers in sa who can bat well...maybe keiswetter should have stood around but as shaun pollock just put it once..."the strength of pounds is quite attractive for south africans".Morne van wyk was a fine keeper i dont know why they picked tsolekile...quinton de kock is another one for the future.

  • SurlyCynic on December 5, 2012, 18:07 GMT

    Sure, Rudolph wasn't in form, but that doesn't mean the 7 batsmen tactic doesn't work, the whole point is that having 7 batsmen allows you to compensate for an out of form batsman - and there will usually be one out of form.

    When JP comes back this selection allows him and Faf to both play, with both of them being brilliant fielders and useful part-time spinners. On seaming tracks if Kallis can't bowl then R Peterson can be replaced by a seamer and they can provide part-time spin. When Kallis retires move AB to 4 and bring in De Kock who is a quality bat, unlike Tsolekile who plays at 8 for his province.

  • Harlequin. on December 5, 2012, 16:10 GMT

    @jeauxx, I'd disagree - there will always be 1/2 batsmen in a line-up who fail, having 7 batsmen increases the likelihood of having 2/3 high scoring innings, which is what you want to set a good score. ABdV is still getting used to the gloves & batting, and if I were the saffers, I would have him playing a Gilly type role at 7 - sounds crazy having someone of his talent at 7 but Gilly, and du Plessis in this series, have shown the advantage of having someone that good at 7. and I'd definitely agree with those here saying that Kallis makes the difference. Having him in means they never have to worry about being a bowler short when they only pick 4 specialists. He is the greatest cricketer of this generation.

  • SomersetJord on December 5, 2012, 16:02 GMT

    TommytuckerSaffa on (December 05 2012, 14:03 PM GMT) - Mate I wouldn't be worrying about that, you guys will beat New Zealand with your eyes closed, I'm looking forward to the rematch with you guys in SA, I thought England were rubbish when you came over here and I'm not saying we would have smashed you if we had been playing well but at least it would have been more competitive and exciting. I think the only worry you guys have is what happens when Kallis finally calls it quits. He is a glue that holds you together, you can't just replace him as there is nobody like him, you either get a batsman or a bowler, and both would fail to live up to JK anyway. He also has such a positive effect on the likes of Smith, AB, and particularly Amla, how will they handle his absence? The next few years will be really exciting rankings wise, you have the potential to hang on up there but there will constantly be the likes of us and Aus either nipping at your heels or pushing past you.

  • CarloL on December 5, 2012, 15:44 GMT

    Amazing how the mood changes, after the first test it was reported that Aust had the upper-hand because SA could'nt finish the job... now they have incredible depth

  • DamnStraight on December 5, 2012, 14:56 GMT

    Get that De Kock Kid in early! Great to learn in a home series against NZ. Cant play Tsolekile, unfortunately he's just not a batting option.

  • wanatawu on December 5, 2012, 14:18 GMT

    @DaagerI takes Thami is picked as a tourist, probably to experiences different cultures. Firstly he is an average keeper(lower order batter 8/9) who is not even the best in the country, their is a 19 year old keeper that they grooming( who is also a exciting batting talent). SA like to pick younger keepers ala boucher. they had stop gap keepers( Palframan, etc) in between Richardson and Boucher. I hope they game Thami some game especially versus New Zealnd. He much just prove them wrong

  • PiyushD on December 5, 2012, 14:12 GMT

    Best Bowling attack, best allrounder, Dravid like Test batsman in Amla, Gilchrist like keeper in ABD and golden touch of Kersten, when the same Gary took India to pinnacle with mediocre bowlers no wonder SA is shining under him.

  • TheCricketeer on December 5, 2012, 14:04 GMT

    @Henrik Loven - if you read between the lines Gary Kirsten is saying exactly what you are saying.y acknowledging the ability to pick 7 batters is what makes the side special and by then saying that at some point in the future this might not be possible he is saying pretty bluntly that Kallis (and AB to some degree) make this possible.

    @SamRoy - how many mature cricketers need to say "they picked me too young" before we realise not too many 19 year olds are going to thrive at test level. Never mind in the demanding wicketkeeper / batsman role. De Kock is without doubt very likely to be a future SA wicketkeeper / batsman but I would suggest if we want to get the best out of him we probably need to give him 5 years at the Lions. Lets not throw him to the wolves.

    @daager - People have been very quick to jump on AB's back. He failed to make a century in England. Big deal. His average since taking the gloves is fine. He helped save a game in Adelaide(and Brisbane). #waytoosoontojudge

  • TommytuckerSaffa on December 5, 2012, 14:03 GMT

    Kallis is the key to their success and he is the greatest cricketer ever. Something that will only be recognised after retirement. His batting average is better than any modern day great, he almost has 300 test wickets - a feat a bowler would be proud of and over 150 catches. Just unreal.

    My fear is that S.A. will come off their high against Ozzie and play poorly against the kiwis.

  • LouisSA on December 5, 2012, 13:58 GMT

    Pretty please Gary, pick Kuhn .de Kock is the future, but might make it into the team as a specialist batsman in a couple of years. We need to start preparing for when Kallis retires. Then AB can take over from him as no4, and we can play a keeper who is also a specialist batsman at 7. JP and Faf at 5 and 6. Then we'll have 4 specialist bowlers and 2 decent part-time spinners. Team could look like this: Smith, de Kock, Amla,AB,JP,Faf,Kuhn,Peterson,Philander,Steyn,Morkel. Thami is too old, pick someone with more than 3 years left and some actual batting talent. He still looks uncomfortable with bat in hand. Kuhn and de Kock are both high quality, natural batsmen.

  • Akhter786 on December 5, 2012, 13:52 GMT

    Oh it has always been Jacques Kallis for South Africa, i can not forsee a Kallis-less Africa as strong as it is. The most important man though, even after Kallis, will be Hashim Amla. How he shapes up to his hopefully glittering career ahead (Kallis less, mind it) would determine the fate of African dominance upto a very large extent. others like Steyn , morkel and Faff come second!!!

  • SamRoy on December 5, 2012, 13:29 GMT

    Oh btw, please by careful by not being complacent against NZ. Complacency at home is a reason why SA have not been test no. 1 since 2008 rather than 2012 (even though in my humble opinion they have been the best team since 2008). New Zealand batting is a bit in shambles but their 3 young fast bowlers Boult, Southee and Bracewell are very young and very promising and most importantly don't give up very easily.

  • on December 5, 2012, 13:20 GMT

    Can't agree with that one. For me its far more about the emrgence of Philander and the improvement in Morkel. On top of that Smith, Amla and Kallis have been piling on the runs. The strength comes from the very strong seam attack and the top four batting.

  • SamRoy on December 5, 2012, 13:19 GMT

    Pick De Kock. Wicketkeeper, talented batsman and AB's batting will improve. Petersen, Smith, Amla (best batsman in the world just ahead of Clarke), Kallis, AB, JP (or Faf), De Kock, R.Peterson, Philander, Steyn, Morkel. Best batting line-up by far with two bowling all-rounders in R.Peterson and Philander. Also best fast bowling line-up. Robbie P. not a bad spinner. I think all ends are covered. Only weakness when Kallis retires (within 2 years I guess) both Faf and JP will be in the team. That will improve the part-time spin bowling but they will miss a 4th seamer.

  • daager on December 5, 2012, 13:01 GMT

    Gary Kirsten is a great coach, and its hard to critisize when we are doing so well, but I disagree with AB as a keeper. He played a great innings once Aus were down and out thanks to Amla, Kallis and Smith - but the rest of the series he was terrible by his standards. I think he is just too important as a batsmen for us to keep, but I suppose he could be the next Adam Gilchrist, that would be sweet as.

    The way I see it is pick Thami against NZ and Pakistan who we should be too strong for at home - if hes good enough we'll know soon enough. I would pick G Smith, A Peterson, H Amla, J Kallis/JP Duminy if hamstring trouble cause bowls spin, AB De Villers, Faf Du Plessis, T Tsolekile, M Morkel, V Philander, D Steyn and R Pietersen. My 2 cents..

  • on December 5, 2012, 12:59 GMT

    @jeauxx - the same Duminy that was injured during the first day of the first test and didnt bat at all in the series?

  • RobTay14 on December 5, 2012, 12:59 GMT

    Yep, it was West Indies time 20 years ago, Australia's for the last two decades, and now seems like its South Africa's era. They really are the best team in the world.

  • on December 5, 2012, 12:46 GMT

    Aussies had Mathew Wade at 7 in the tests and he is as good as Rudolph , so this 7 batsman thing is true, but other teams like Australia and England(Matt Prior avg 42 @7) also have the equavalent of 7 specialist batsman

  • SICHO on December 5, 2012, 12:45 GMT

    @jeauxx: Duminy had an average in Oz? You don't have clue of what you're saying do you? Well the team was successful that's what matters. Eng and Aus couldn't win a single test against us in their own shores, which it is successful so far. This is about the team, individual performs are to be sorted later.

  • on December 5, 2012, 12:42 GMT

    I hate to say this, but Gary Kirsten is utterly wrong. Don Bradman rated Gary Sobers the World's greatest cricketer because Sobers was the equal of a couple of players plus a great fielder in one. In the same manner, the difference between SA and everyone else is Jacques Kallis. Without Kallis, SA would have to choose either a batsman who scores at 57+ OR a bowler who takes a couple of wickets every test at an economy rate of less than three, either of whom would have to be a great fielder as is Kallis. Without Kallis, SA would still be a very good team, with him they are great. Then as National coach, Kirsten has to say these things in order to prepare for a Kallis-less future.

  • here2rock on December 5, 2012, 12:15 GMT

    It is not he numbers but the quality which makes SA number 1.

  • on December 5, 2012, 12:14 GMT

    From what I know, there's a lot of talk from SA team management of blooding a young keeper into the ODI and T20 side and letting AB keep in Tests. So, don't be surprised if that happens in the next series. I also expect some of the senior guys (Hash, Kallis, Smith, maybe AB) to be rested at various points of the next two series (ODI and T20) v Pak and NZ...they need to start growing this ODI side, having a look at younger guys (Morris, de Kock etc).

  • LordKratos on December 5, 2012, 12:10 GMT

    Thank you Mr kirsten for getting and Keeping the Proteas where they belong which is right there AT THE TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN! A good friend of mine once told me that in the jungle we have the lion and on the cricket field we have the Proteas!

  • jeauxx on December 5, 2012, 11:59 GMT

    Pish posh. If anything 7 batsmen has been a burden. In England, the ability to incorporate Rudolph + Duminy was notably less valuable than AB de Villiers' decreased batting ability. In Australia, the extra batsman failed invariably - Duminy averaged 18, Elgar got a pair.

  • satish619chandar on December 5, 2012, 11:53 GMT

    Also, they should be careful in picking the extra player. Duminy, Robbie, Faf were good options who could be used there. Even Albie Morkel might work as he can share pace bowling options. You never know when he produces the wicket taking ball. The likes of Elgar are top order players and might not work there. As No.7 had to play with tail, some of unorthodax T20 style players can add more value than the pure top order batsman there. Faf really worked wonder!! SA really need to carefully plan ABD's workload. If he need to keep wickets in tests, atleast relieve him of the duties in shorter formats. Kuhn or De kock can do job.

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  • satish619chandar on December 5, 2012, 11:53 GMT

    Also, they should be careful in picking the extra player. Duminy, Robbie, Faf were good options who could be used there. Even Albie Morkel might work as he can share pace bowling options. You never know when he produces the wicket taking ball. The likes of Elgar are top order players and might not work there. As No.7 had to play with tail, some of unorthodax T20 style players can add more value than the pure top order batsman there. Faf really worked wonder!! SA really need to carefully plan ABD's workload. If he need to keep wickets in tests, atleast relieve him of the duties in shorter formats. Kuhn or De kock can do job.

  • jeauxx on December 5, 2012, 11:59 GMT

    Pish posh. If anything 7 batsmen has been a burden. In England, the ability to incorporate Rudolph + Duminy was notably less valuable than AB de Villiers' decreased batting ability. In Australia, the extra batsman failed invariably - Duminy averaged 18, Elgar got a pair.

  • LordKratos on December 5, 2012, 12:10 GMT

    Thank you Mr kirsten for getting and Keeping the Proteas where they belong which is right there AT THE TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN! A good friend of mine once told me that in the jungle we have the lion and on the cricket field we have the Proteas!

  • on December 5, 2012, 12:14 GMT

    From what I know, there's a lot of talk from SA team management of blooding a young keeper into the ODI and T20 side and letting AB keep in Tests. So, don't be surprised if that happens in the next series. I also expect some of the senior guys (Hash, Kallis, Smith, maybe AB) to be rested at various points of the next two series (ODI and T20) v Pak and NZ...they need to start growing this ODI side, having a look at younger guys (Morris, de Kock etc).

  • here2rock on December 5, 2012, 12:15 GMT

    It is not he numbers but the quality which makes SA number 1.

  • on December 5, 2012, 12:42 GMT

    I hate to say this, but Gary Kirsten is utterly wrong. Don Bradman rated Gary Sobers the World's greatest cricketer because Sobers was the equal of a couple of players plus a great fielder in one. In the same manner, the difference between SA and everyone else is Jacques Kallis. Without Kallis, SA would have to choose either a batsman who scores at 57+ OR a bowler who takes a couple of wickets every test at an economy rate of less than three, either of whom would have to be a great fielder as is Kallis. Without Kallis, SA would still be a very good team, with him they are great. Then as National coach, Kirsten has to say these things in order to prepare for a Kallis-less future.

  • SICHO on December 5, 2012, 12:45 GMT

    @jeauxx: Duminy had an average in Oz? You don't have clue of what you're saying do you? Well the team was successful that's what matters. Eng and Aus couldn't win a single test against us in their own shores, which it is successful so far. This is about the team, individual performs are to be sorted later.

  • on December 5, 2012, 12:46 GMT

    Aussies had Mathew Wade at 7 in the tests and he is as good as Rudolph , so this 7 batsman thing is true, but other teams like Australia and England(Matt Prior avg 42 @7) also have the equavalent of 7 specialist batsman

  • RobTay14 on December 5, 2012, 12:59 GMT

    Yep, it was West Indies time 20 years ago, Australia's for the last two decades, and now seems like its South Africa's era. They really are the best team in the world.

  • on December 5, 2012, 12:59 GMT

    @jeauxx - the same Duminy that was injured during the first day of the first test and didnt bat at all in the series?