Report Cards: South Africa at St George's

Blog Opinion

Most of the team contributed meaningfully in some way, with only the skipper and Quinton de Kock's ratings out of 10 not resulting in a glowing report card.

The second Test in Port Elizabeth saw South Africa win by 231 runs on day four in dramatic circumstances. They took nine wickets in the evening session to leave the Aussies on the ropes, and after enforcing an extra hour of play, under lights, the game was over.

Most of the team contributed meaningfully in some way, with only the skipper and Quinton de Kock's ratings out of 10 not resulting in a glowing report card.

<b>Graeme Smith</b><br><b>Rating:</b> 4<br><b>Runs:</b> 9 and 14

Oh dear. Another pretty rubbish match for the skipper, batting-wise. His perpetual angled bat was his downfall yet again, and he fell to Mitchell Johnson for the umpteenth time, in the second innings. His continued saving grace is that the rest of the side nullified his failure and recorded a win, and his captaincy was excellent, especially on day four. Still, he's gone seven knocks without a fifty, so his home ground of Newlands needs to prove fruitful.

<b>Dean Elgar</b><br><b>Rating:</b> 7<br><b>Runs:</b> 83 and 16<br><b>Wickets:</b> 1

Elgar's face, when he took the final wicket in the dying moments of the match, to win it for the Proteas, will live long in the memory. He's not the most effusive of men, as he showed during his long, gritty innings of 83 in PE, but he made the most of his chance in the side. That wicket was his only scalp of the game, and he was the definition of part time (and it may or may not have been out…) but his contributions were vital.

<b>Hashim Amla</b><br><b>Rating:</b> 8.5<br><b>Runs:</b> 0 and 127 not out

Things were getting a bit worrying for the Mighty # after the first innings, as he bagged a third ball duck. He was on his longest run of sub-50 scores since 2007, and then he dislocated his finger. Given that he's a machine, he harnessed the pain and focused when the side was in a spot of bother, and went on to record his 21st Test century. It was a consummate display in cover driving, and in partnership building. The beard is back, people!

<b>Faf du Plessis</b><br><b>Rating:</b> 7<br><b>Runs:</b> 55 and 24

Du Plessis' half century in the first innings was laborious and stolid, and it was crucial to the side's later success, as he stuck with Elgar as they recovered from early wickets. He was undone by a bizarre shot against the run of play and could thus not replicate his Marathon Man heroics. His second innings 24 was all well and good, but it was his catch in the slips that was one of the turning points on day four. He snaffled Michael Clarke's edge low to the ground, driving one of the nails in the Aussie coffin.

<b>AB de Villiers</b><br><b>Rating:</b> 9<br><b>Runs:</b> 116 and 29

As was the case in the first Test, De Villiers was once again immense. He now holds the record for the most 50-plus scores in consecutive Tests (12 matches) and his century in the first innings was a thing of beauty on a pitch that was playing ugly at the time. His century stand with JP Duminy was defining, and his 55 run-stand with Amla in the second was short but it was one of the most visually appealing knocks of 29 you'll ever see. That back foot cover drive? Cricket porn.

<b>Quinton de Kock</b><br><b>Rating:</b> 6<br><b>Runs:</b> 7 and 34

De Kock made his debut under tough circumstances. He was essentially chucked into the side the night before, with little time to prepare, and had the weight of expectation bearing down on him after his ODI heroics. He played out of position, down the order, and had to curb his natural shot making. He did ok, and didn't get a first ball duck, which is always nice. His second innings was rather good, as he stuck with Amla late on day three and before lunch on day four.

<b>JP Duminy</b><br><b>Rating:</b> 9<br><b>Runs:</b> 123 and 18 not out<br><b>Wickets:</b> 2

For a guy who was fielding numerous calls to be dropped before the Test, given his poor run of form, he sure responded in emphatic fashion. His century was a mix of defense and attack, anchor and aggressor, and it was his first on home soil. Only his third Test ton overall, his top score remains the 166 he made in Melbourne, but his love of facing Antipodean sides is clear. His other ton was against the Kiwis. His wickets were also crucial, the first being a dangerous Mitchell Johnson in the first innings, and the second started the winning collapse as he got rid of David Warner late of day four.

<b>Vernon Philander</b><br><b>Rating:</b> 7.5<br><b>Runs:</b> 6<br><b>Wickets:</b> 3/68 and 2/39

big Vern only took one wicket at Centurion, but roared back in PE, on a deck that really didn't help him all that much initially. The sing king took important wickets, including both openers in the first innings, and Michael Clarke, while in the second he used the reverse movement to trap both Shaun Marsh and Johnson in front for single figure scores. He was the perfect foil to Dale Steyn, and a class act in terms of economy.

<b>Wayne Parnell</b><br><b>Rating:</b> 7<br><b>Runs:</b> 10<br><b>Wickets:</b> 2/31

Poor Parny. He was brought in to replace the hurt Ryan McLaren, and then got injured himself. He only bowled 8.3 overs in the match, but managed to take two superb top order wickets in one over at his home ground, before picking up a groin injury. He was unable to play for the rest of the game, but was looking very good for the time he was on the field. He will almost certainly miss the final Test, which is a pity for him as he looked more consistent than usual.

<b>Dale Steyn</b><br><b>Rating:</b> 9.5<br><b>Runs:</b> 4 not out<br><b>Wickets:</b> 1/55 and 4/55

If you're wondering why Steyn got such a high score but 'only' took five wickets, it's because four of the five were the reason the Proteas won the Test. He took three wickets for four runs in the space of 15 balls, and then another as the light faded. His three scalps saw Michael Clarke, Steve Smith and Brad Haddin depart for a sum total of two between them, and then Ryan Harris found himself trapped in front. Two of the five wickets were Haddin's, middle stump flying both times.

<b>Morne Morkel</b><br><b>Rating:</b> 7<br><b>Runs:</b> 1<br><b>Wickets:</b> 3/63 and 1/46

'Morras' may not have taken a five-fer, but his efforts on day three saw him bag three wickets and influence a few more. He was fast, aggressive and on target, bouncing the living daylights out of the Aussies, and smashing Mitchell Johnson on the head. He softened Nathan Lyon up so badly that in the end the night watchman rather ran away from a short ball and played it on, rather than taking another one to the ribs.

<b>Lindsay du Plessis</b>