AB, Amla, Steyn headline cricket year

15 December 2010

South African cricket remained very healthy in 2010, with the Proteas finishing the year ranked second in the test standings ahead of a three-test showdown with top-ranked India, beginning on 16 December.

The teams met earlier in the year, in February, when South Africa faced India away from home. Behind 253 not out from Hashim Amla, 173 from Jacques Kallis, and a match haul of 10 for 108 from Dale Steyn, the Proteas won the first test by an innings and six runs.

India reversed the result in the second test, winning by an innings and 57 runs despite 114 and 123 not out from Amla, who very nearly forced a draw for South Africa.

Now, the question is whether or not South Africa can make home ground advantage count when they tackle the Indians, who are coached by former Proteas’ opening batsman Gary Kirsten.

Strong start to 2010

The year had begun with the tail-end of a four-test series against England and South Africa one-nil down. No problem! Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel confirmed their standing as one of the best new ball partnerships in the world as they destroyed England at the Wanderers to steer the Proteas to victory by an innings and 74 runs.

In England’s first innings of 180 all out, Steyn knocked over 5 for 51, while Morkel captured 3 for 39. Batting again, England were dismissed for 169 as Steyn claimed 2 for 64 and Morkel 4 for 59.

Ironically, as was the case in India, the match South Africa lost was by an innings.

The West Indies were clearly second best to the Proteas when they visited the Caribbean Islands in the middle of the year. Graeme Smith and company won the three-test series 2-0 and whitewashed the home side 5-0 in the one-day internationals.

In November, a two-test series against Pakistan was drawn and the five-match limited overs series went the way of South Africa by three matches to two.

A number of South Africans stood out for their individual brilliance. Dale Steyn was ranked number one in the world among test bowlers, while his new ball partner Morne Morkel moved into the top 10.

Sensational Hashim Amla

Among batsmen, Hashim Amla had a sensational year. Not only did he score 1 000 test runs in a calendar year, he also achieved the feat in one-day internationals, becoming the first South African to manage it.

He scored 1 060 test runs in 16 innings at an average of 81.53. In ODIs, he tallied 1 058 runs in 15 innings at 75.57. Absolutely extraordinary!

Amla was nominated in six categories at the 2010 South African Cricket Awards and walked away with five awards.

Apart from winning the main SA Cricketer of the Year Award, he was also named the Players’ Player of the Year, the Cricket South Africa Fans’ Cricketer of the Year, and the Test Cricketer of the Year. In addition, he also picked up the KFC “So Good!” Award for his 253 not out against India in Nagpur.

SA individual record

AB de Villiers, too, enjoyed a wonderful year. He scored a South African test record 278 not out against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi and totalled 834 runs at an average of 83.40.

De Villiers was named the ICC one-day international Player of the Year after scoring 855 runs at an average of 71.25, with a superb run rate of 103.38 runs per 100 balls faced, in 16 matches.

It was not a surprise that he also won the Standard Bank One-Day International Cricketer of the Year at the South African Cricket Awards.

World leading all-rounder

Jacques Kallis remained one of the world’s leading batsmen, scoring 970 test runs in 16 innings at 74.71, and 593 ODI runs in 12 innings at 59.30.

Before the start of the end of year series against India, he ranked fifth on the all-time list of test run scorers, with 11 449, only 871 runs behind second-placed Ricky Ponting. In one-day internationals, Kallis is sixth on the all-time run scoring list, with 11 002.

However, his contributions as an all-rounder should not be forgotten. His 267 test wickets place him 27th on the all time list among bowlers, and his 259 ODI victims have him in 19th place.

There are some cricket fans who might not yet have realised it, but Kallis is a great of the game and will one day be rightly recognised as a legend.

‘Mdingi Express’ retires

One of the Proteas’ long-time stars, the charismatic Makhaya Ntini announced his retirement from international cricket in November.

The “Mdingi Express” finished his test career ranked number two among South Africans – behind only Shaun Pollock’s 421 wickets – with 390 victims and is 11th on the all-time list.

He played 101 tests for the Proteas and during that time returned the best test figures ever achieved by a South African of 13 for 132 versus the West Indies in April 2005. He also shares the record for the most 10-wicket hauls by a South African with Dale Steyn, having achieved the feat four times.

Women win challenge unbeaten

While South Africa’s men continued to shine, the South African women’s team had an opportunity of their own to excel at home when the ICC ODI Women’s Challenge took place in Potchefstroom.

They won the Challenge and went unbeaten, beating Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Ireland, the West Indies, and the Netherlands.

It wasn’t only the players that made the headlines; long-standing umpire Rudi Koertzen retired after a distinguished career that included 106 tests and a record 209 one-day internationals.

Cricket South Africa CEO Gerald Majola commented: “History will record Rudi’s outstanding contribution to the advancement of cricket in South Africa and throughout the cricketing world.”

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