After 32 days, England have completed a stunning turnaround to complete a 3-1 series win over South Africa. Here is a quick guide to the individual performances in the series:
Faf Du Plessis (c)- 4
Huge question marks now hang over the South Africa captain. Du Plessis averaged just 18.87 with the bat and failed to record a 50 through the series. His captaincy wasn’t great either, notably when it came to how to stem the run flow when Pope and Stokes got their eye in at Port Elizabeth. Coach Mark Boucher appears to set for a big decision.
Dean Elgar- 6.5
Elgar recovered from being bowled out with the first ball of the series, to play with his usual grit at the top of the order. He scored an impressive 88 in Cape Town as wickets tumbled around him and averaged a respectable 30.50, but strangely got out to a couple of soft dismissals. He is still a mainstay for a fragile batting lineup.
Aiden Markam- 3
Markam scored just 20 in the first innings of the series and followed up with a first over dismissal to Anderson. Injury then ruled him out of the remainder of the series.
Pieter Malan- 6
Drafted in for Markam, Malan hit a resilient 84 as South Africa tried to save the second test. He then struggled against spin in Port Elizabeth, suffering a pair of cheap dismissals. Again, he struggled in the fourth test, suggesting he is not the long-term answer at the top of the order.
Zubayr Hamza 4
He hit a respectable 39 at Centurion before suffering three dismissals to Stuart Broad, scoring just 12 in Port Elizabeth before being dropped from the final test. At 24, Hamza has time on his side and a strong record in domestic cricket. However, with a test average of just 18.20, he needs a big score soon.
Rassie Van Der Dussen-7.5
The biggest plus from this series for South Africa has been the form of their debutant batsman. Van Der Dussen racked up 274 runs and notched three half centuries. Inevitably, he’ll be frustrated to get out for 98 in the fourth test. There are concerns over his ability to play spin, but Van Der Dussen is a key building block for Boucher.
Quinton De Kock- 9
De Kock played the vital first test innings when his team was on 111-5. He hit a brilliant 95 to establish a match-winning lead. In all, he scored 380 runs and grabbed four half centuries. The quandary for Boucher is whether he now brings in another wicket keeper and promotes De Kock in the order.
Temba Bavuma- 5
Drafted in for the final test, Bavuma lasted just six runs and 28 balls in the first innings. In the second, he showed some flair with 27 from 29 balls. At 29, he’s not the long-term answer in the middle order, but may stick around for the time being.
Vernon Philander- 7.5
Philander was at his devastating best at Centurion, taking an impressive 16-4 in the first innings, recording match figures of 16 maidens from 34.2 overs. Despite not elevating his level of play, he ended the series with eight wickets and an economy rate of 2.02. He received a deserved ovation when he took his leave from Test Cricket at The Wanderers.
Anrich Nortje- 8
Nortje took the key wickets of Root, Stokes and Burns in South Africa’s win. He proved expensive in Port Elizabeth at 97-1 as England broke clear, but still finished the series with 18 wickets at an average of 27.11. With Philander moving on, the 26-year old is vital to South Africa.
Dwaine Pretorius- 5.5
This was a quiet series from the debutante all rounder, who featured in three matches. He was supportive for De Kock, hitting 33 at Centurion and then 37 in Johannesburg. With the ball, he also picked up a useful 2/26 in the first innings at Cape Town. However, he struggled to impose himself when the tide turned England’s way in Cape Town and again in Johannesburg.
Dane Paterson– 5
The paceman got his debut in Port Elizabeth as England’s batsmen dominated. He was picked up Joe Denly’s wicket twice in the fourth test to finish with four wickets at an expensive average of 41.50.
Keshav Maharaj – 7
The spinner started well with a controlling spell and two wickets in the first test. However, his economy suffered when Stokes and Pope assumed control in the second and third tests. Maharaj finished the series with ten wickets, but at an average of 46.30.
Kagiso Rabada- 7
Inevitably, Rabada’s series will be judged on his demerit point penalty that ruled him out of the fourth test. The decision did seem harsh, but that doesn’t alter the fact Rabada knew he was walking a disciplinary tightrope. He was demon quick at Centurion, taking seven wickets, albeit a bit on the expensive side. He took 14 wickets in total and showed again how devastating he can be on a quick surface, however, his error of judgement proved costly.
Beuran Hendricks- 6.5
Drafted for his debut in the pace friendly conditions at The Wanderers, Hendricks suffered an expensive first innings of 1-111 at a rate of 4.82. He performed much better in the second to claim 5-64, including the wickets of Stokes and Root. Hendricks did enough to get another cap.
Joe Root (c)- 7
A much improved series as captain, Root appears to have grown into the leadership role with some smart field placings and intelligent bowling changes. With the bat Root benefited from England’s improved top order seeing off the new ball and averaged an impressive 45.28. He will be frustrated not to turn any of his three 50s into a century, but a much better tour for the captain.
Dom Sibley- 8
England appear to have found the opening batsman they’ve craved for so long. Sibley’s 133 not out in Cape Town could prove a career defining moment for the 24-year-old who faced 784 balls in the series and averaged 54.
Rory Burns- 7
After his early first innings dismissal at Centurion Park, Burns hit back with an impressive 84 in the second innings. Then came the ankle injury that ended Burns’ tour and rules him out of the Sri Lanka series. How England fit Burns, Sibley and Crawley into the team provides Chris Silverwood with a nice problem.
Zak Crawley- 7
21-year-old Crawley opened the batting with controlled aggression and was rewarded with first career half century at the Wanderers. Crawley is growing into test cricket and will be looking for his maiden century in Sri Lanka.
Joe Denly- 6
A frustrating tour for Denly who played a disciplined role at number three and faced 581 balls, to help set the stage for England’s more explosive batsmen. However he then got out playing some loose shots and recorded only one 50 in seven attempts, meaning it’s no centuries from 14 Test Matches. The 33-year-old may be a transitional player for England, but he will go to Sri Lanka.
Ben Stokes- 9.5 (Player of the Series)
The ICC Player of the Year added another notch to his legend with another momentum shifting tour. When South Africa appeared to be coasting to a draw in Cape Town it was Stokes’ inspired spell of reverse swing bowling that took three wickets to see England home. Then came the huge century in Port Elizabeth and key wickets in Johannesburg. Add to that his excellence in the field and ability to accelerate the run rate and Stokes looks a serious rival to Ian Botham, Imran Khan and Kapil Dev in the ranks of the games great all rounders. He finished the series with bowling figures of 10-220 and a batting average of 45.28.
Ollie Pope- 8.5
The breakout star of the series. Pope hit 266 runs from just five innings including two half centuries and a majestic 135 not out in Port Elizabeth. The 22-year-old’s eventual position in the batting order remains a topic for debate with most expecting him to move to number three in the long term. For now however he’s developing nicely at number six
Johnny Bairstow- 2
It’s difficult to understand why Bairstow was picked for the tour. He was dropped for the New Zealand trip after a poor Ashes series then recalled for South Africa despite not playing between time. Bairstow stood in for the ill Pope in the first test and managed just ten runs. With the top six looking increasingly settled the only future Bairstow appears to have at test level is at wicket-keeper.
Jos Buttler- 4
The biggest loser from this tour was Buttler whose place in the side is now under serious threat. Buttler’s most memorable contribution to the tour was calling Vernon Philander a ‘dickhead,’ as he struggled to contribute runs when England ran into trouble, averaging just 16.42. Buttler looks unsure of himself at Test Level, stuck between playing his natural one day game and trying to be conservative. Ben Foakes must fancy his chances of getting the gloves in Sri Lanka.
Dom Bess- 8
The spinner proved the surprise success of the series. Bess was only called up as cover when illness swept the England camp, but he stepped in to do a solid holding role for the seamers in Cape Town. Then he swept through South Africa’s top order in Port Elizabeth with 5-51 to set up the follow on. Bess is now England’s front line spin option and a key man for the Sri Lanka tour.
Sam Curran- 6.5
A mixed bag from the young all-rounder. Curran was the pick of England’s bowlers in the defeat at Centurion, but then regressed to a supporting role through the rest of the series, although he did pick up the key wicket of Malan in Cape Town. With the bat he played some big shots but also got out cheaply at times, clearly he needs to mature in terms of batting tempo. At 21 Curran remains a work in progress
Stuart Broad- 7.5
Broad continued his fine form of the summer to be the mainstay of England’s bowling attack. When England needed a good start in Cape Town it was Broad that picked up two early wickets to leave the hosts reeling at 40-3. In all Broad took 14 wickets including a 4-58 and with the bat contributed 43 in a memorable last wicket stand of 82 at the Wanderers.
James Anderson- 7.5
This tour will be remembered for England’s bright young things and Stokes’ heroics, but it was Anderson who turned the tide. With England out for a paltry 269 in Cape Town, Anderson ripped through South Africa on a good batting wicket to take 5-40 and hand England the initiative. Sadly another injury forced him out of the last two matches, leading to questions about his future. As long as he can rip through teams, England would be foolish to let him go just yet.
Jofra Archer- 6.5
A reminder that for all his talent, Archer is still a young talent to nurture. The paceman struggled early in the first test, but recovered late on to record another five wicket haul. An elbow injury then kept him on the sidelines. England fast tracked Archer but managing the young bowler’s workload remains a tricky dilemma for Silverwood.
Mark Wood- 8.5
After missing the first two tests, Wood returned in the tailor-made conditions of Port Elizabeth to spearhead the England attack. Wood took 3-32 in the second innings before taking a nine wicket haul in the fourth test. Wood remains prone to injury, but he alongside Archer looks the man most likely to trouble Australia in the 2021 Ashes series.
Chris Woakes- 6.5
The ongoing criticism of Woakes remains his away record is nowhere near as good as his form. Silverwood used Woakes sensibly this time, keeping him back for the seam friendly conditions in Johannesburg. Woakes’ patience was rewarded with three wickets including the early second innings breakthrough. He also hit a useful 32 with the bat and should remain a rotational bowler on away tours.