21 December 2011
In 2011 South Africa’s national cricket team, the Proteas, produced some superb performances, but, ultimately, the sum of the team’s parts failed to deliver what they could have.
Considering that the side featured the world’s leading test bowler, Dale Steyn, and the man third in the rankings, Morne Morkel, along with the great Jacques Kallis, and other outstanding batsmen in Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, who were one and two in one-day international batting rankings, it should have achieved more.
Against both India and Australia, they drew test series after taking the series lead with dominant victories that suggested they had a clear edge on the opposition.
As it was for every major cricket playing nation, 2011 was a big year for South African cricket because of the World Cup, which was hosted by India. It was also an opportunity for the Proteas to undo many past disappointments by claiming the Cup.
Unfortunately for South African fans, the World Cup once again ended in bitter disappointment.
In the round robin phase, the Proteas were in fine form in Group B, winning five out of six matches to convincingly top the standings.
They beat the West Indies by seven wickets, the Netherlands by 231 runs, eventual champions India by three wickets, Ireland by 131 runs, and Bangladesh by 206 runs. A warning was sounded, however, when the Proteas lost to England by six runs when chasing only 172 for victory.
As the number one team in Group B, South Africa faced the fourth placed team from Group A in the quarterfinals, which turned out to be New Zealand. The Proteas failed to fire in an ill-tempered match and were well beaten by 49 runs.
Spinners Robin Petersen and Imran Tahir provided some light, however, finishing near the top of the list among wicket takers, with 15 and 14 respectively.
Petersen averaged only 15.86 per wicket, while Tahir’s average was an astounding 10.71, the best in the tournament. His strike rate of a wicket every 16.9 balls also led all bowlers. And he was among the best when it came to exuberant wicket taking celebrations.
AB de Villiers led the batsmen, despite playing in just five games because of injury, totalling 353 runs at 88.25, with centuries in successive matches against the West Indies and the Netherlands.
A number of South Africans did, however, taste success at the World Cup, with India coach Gary Kirsten and his support staff leading the hosts to the title. Later in the year, Kirsten was appointed coach of the Proteas.
Among the other highlights of the year were South Africa’s victory by an innings and 25 runs over India at Centurion. In that match, Morne Morkel knocked over 5 for 20 and Dale Steyn captured 3 for 34 as the Indians mustered only 136 in their first innings.
Jacques Kallis then scored a maiden test double century, finishing on 201 not out, while Hashim Amla weighed in with 140 and De Villiers with 129, as South Africa declared on a massive 620 for 4.
India fought hard to score 459 in their second innings behind Sachin Tendulkar’s 50th test century, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a comprehensive South African victory.
In November, one of the most amazing test matches ever took place at Newlands. Batting first, the visitors, Australia, posted 284 all out, thanks to a splendid 151 from captain Michael Clarke.
South Africa, in reply, were skittled out for just 96 as only the openers, Jacques Rudolph and Graeme Smith, reached double figures. Shane Watson excelled with the ball, taking 5 for 17.
The Aussies began their second innings with a seemingly insurmountable lead of 188 runs. Incredibly, though, they were blasted out for only 47, having at one stage been on 21 for 9! Debutant Vernon Philander finished with figures of 5 for 15, while Morne Morkel took 3 for 9, and Steyn 2 for 23.
South Africa then made the pitch look relatively easy, chasing down the victory target for the loss of only two wickets to win the match inside three days. Smith struck 101 not out, while Amla contributed 112.
In other results, a two-test series against Pakistan in late 2010 was drawn 0-0, the Indian series finished 1-1, as did the Australian series.
The Proteas edged a five-match one-day international series against Pakistan 3-2, won 3-2 against India, and lost 2-1 to Australia.
The Aussies also beat the Proteas 2-1 in a Twenty20 international series. South Africa won 2-0 against Pakistan in the shortest form of the game and lost their only T20 against India.
Player of the Year
In 2011, Jacques Kallis, South Africa’s Player of the Year, passed 12 000 runs in tests, placing him fourth on the all-time list, with a higher average than the three men above him. After a two-test series against Australia, he had also claimed 271 test wickets, good for 28th all time, and fourth on the South African list of wicket takers.
With 169 catches, he is also sixth on the all-time list among fielders. Clearly, the term “great” is not misplaced in this instance.
Dale Steyn achieved a milestone when he went over the 900 point mark – an achievement similar to the four-minute mile in athletics – in the test bowling rankings.
He remains far and away the leading test bowler in the world, a massive 87 points ahead of the man in second place on the list, England fast bowler James Anderson.
South African Sports Star of the Year
Hashim Amla proved to be one of the most popular sportsmen in the country and was voted South African Sports Star of the Year in August.
In domestic action, the Cape Cobras won the SuperSport Series four-day competition, while the Knights triumphed in the 40-overs-a-side MTN40.
The Cobras added another title in the Standard Bank Pro20 Series, while the Warriors finished runners-up in the Champions League T20, a competition featuring the best T20 provincial teams from around the world.
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