South African trio in Wisden’s top five

11 April 2013

After a very successful tour of England in 2012, three of South Africa’s star performers were among the five players named Cricketers of the Year in the 150th edition of the “Cricketer’s Bible”, Wisden, on Wednesday.

Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn and Jacques Kallis were joined on the list by South African-born England batsman Nick Compton, who attended Hilton College in KwaZulu-Natal, and the West Indies’ Marlon Samuels.

According to the guidelines set down by Wisden, no player may be selected more than once for the award, which dates back to 1889, making it the oldest individual award in cricket. Excellence in the previous English summer is the major criterion for inclusion as a Cricketer of the Year.

Triple-century

Amla was hugely influential in South Africa’s 2-0 series victory over England in the battle for the number one ranking in test cricket. He shared the Player of the Series award with England’s Matt Prior (another South African-born player) and became the first South African to score a triple-century in a test match.

His unbeaten 311 at The Oval, which included an unbeaten partnership of 377 with Jacques Kallis and a 259-run stand with Graeme Smith, helped the Proteas to victory by an innings and 12 runs.

He added a crucial century in the series-clinching win by 51 runs at Lords in the thrid and final test.

Amla has since gone on to number one in the test batting rankings, having surpassed the elite 900-point mark, and he currently shares the number one ranking in one-day international batting with AB de Villiers.

Partnership

Kallis, already a legend of the game even though his career is far from over, contributed 182 not out, his highest score against England, to the 377-run stand, which was the third highest partnership in Proteas’ history.

Together, Amla and Kallis have shared six 200-run stands. That is a world record, which they share with the outstanding former Australian opening pair of Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer.

Kallis has been involved in 20 200-run partnership during his career, a feat that is unmatched in the history of test cricket.

“The only surprise about the selection of Jacques Kallis was that he hadn’t been chosen earlier,” commented Wisden Editor Lawrence Booth.

Number one

Dale Steyn has been at the top of the test cricket bowling rankings for so long one could be forgiven for thinking he has taken residence in that position. He, like Amla, boasts a rating of over 900 points.

In England, he put the knife into the home team in the Proteas’ massive victory at The Oval. While England’s much-vaunted bowlers looked toothless as South Africa compiled 637 for 2 declared, Steyn was excellent in their second innings, capturing 5 for 56 as England were bowled out for 240, to secure the win for the tourists.

He finished the series as the leading wicket taker on either side, with four more victims than his new ball partner Vernon Philander.

‘Most frightening’

Booth described him “the world’s most frightening fast bowler”. That description, though, is not about all-out pace. Steyn can turn on the heat if he chooses to do so, but his bowling is about so much more than speed; it’s about swing, seam, change of pace, about thinking a batsman out and right now there is no one to match him.

South Africa previously produced three of the five cricketers of the year: in 1966 after a winning tour of England in 1965, when Graeme and Peter Pollock and Colin Bland were honoured, and in 2009, when, after a 2-1 series win in 2008, Mark Boucher and Neil McKenzie were honoured along with Dale Benkenstein, who led Durham to their first ever county championship title.

Cricket South Africa Acting CEO Naasei Appiah commented: “What a wonderful way for a South African celebration of the 150th edition of this famous publication, known affectionately as the ‘Cricketer’s Bible’.

‘Richly deserved’

“This recognition is richly deserved as has been clearly outlined by Editor Lawrence Booth in his comments. This is a proudly South African moment that all South Africans can enjoy.

“It has truly been a phenomenal year for our Proteas and they have been and will continue to be an inspiration to the nation.

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