Selecting the Greatest South Africa Test XI

Antoinette MullerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 19, 2013

Selecting the Greatest South Africa Test XI

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    Due to South Africa's prickly and ghastly past, selecting an all-time XI is always a contentious issues. Do you pick players from the apartheid era, knowing that the record is skewed because many players missed out on the opportunity to play for the national team?

    Such a selection policy means that players like Barry Richards, Graeme Pollock, Dudley Nurse, Mike Procter and Aubrey Faulkner would all miss out on an all-time XI spot. It is not done to discredit these men of their efforts. They were legends in their own right.  

    However, for the sake of democracy, the all-time XI for this specific selection is based on the post-isolation era. It's amazing how many of the best are still playing for the Proteas.

    Share your thoughts in the comments.  

Graeme Smith, Captain

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    Caps: 110, Runs: 8,753, Average: 48.62 (still playing)

    Smith might be one of the worst batsmen in terms of aesthetics, but he is an absolute beast when it matters. With an excellent record in the fourth innings when South Africa are chasing and a penchant for ending the careers of English captains, Smith is arguably the greatest Proteas captain ever. 

Gary Kirsten

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    Caps: 101, Runs: 7,289, Average: 45.27 (retired)

    A crafty opener who was responsible for some of South Africa's finest match-saving moments, Kirsten probably wasn't the best player in his family, but he knew how to play to his strengths.

    Once a player figures that out, there's no stopping them. 

Hashim Amla

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    Caps: 70, Runs: 5,785, Average: 51.11 (still playing)

    Hashim Amla is the first South African to score a triple ton and the man with the most elegant strokeplay and calmest temperament in the South African team.

    His wristy flicks and cover drives are enough to have any lover of the game reaching for a drink of water.

Jacques Kallis

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    Caps: 162, Runs: 13,128, Average: 56.10 / Wickets: 288 @ 32.43 (still playing)

    Very little needs to be said about Jacques Kallis and his prowess. Batting, bowling, fielding in the slips—Kallis can do it all.

    He is unrivalled in his value to the team overall and is without a doubt one of the finest cricketers the world has ever seen.

AB de Villiers

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    Caps: 85, Runs: 6,364, Average: 50.50 (still playing)

    AB de Villiers is adaptable and enchanting. No matter what the situation is in a Test, De Villiers can do it.

    Whether he's digging in to save a game or cracking on to get some more runs on the board, De Villiers is one of the most entertaining cricketers to grace the world stage today. 

Mark Boucher, Wicket Keeper

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    Caps: 147, Runs: 5,515, Average: 30.30 (retired)

    An astute keeper who has been described as "somebody you'll go to war with," Mark Boucher's typical terrier attitude earned him legend status as a South African wicket keeper.

    Despite his batting prowess falling to the wayside slightly toward the end of his career, he was a fantastic servant of the game for over a decade. 

Shaun Pollock

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    Caps: 108, Runs: 3,781, Average: 32.31 / Wickets: 421 @ 23.11 (retired)

    Shaun Pollock pips Lance Klusener to the all-rounder role because his numbers are just so much better.

    Coming from a cricketing family, Pollock was always destined for greatness. Another player who has earned himself "legend" status in South African cricketing history. 

Dale Steyn

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    Caps: 65, Wickets: 332, Average: 22.65, Econ: 3.30 (still playing)

    Undisputedly the greatest fast bowler South Africa has ever produced. He has a staggering record and would probably walk into any current world XI. He still has a few years left in him and has remained relatively injury free up until now. If he continues at this rate, Steyn will go down in history as one of the all-time best. 

Allan Donald

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    Caps: 72, Wickets: 330, Average: 22.25, Econ: 2.83 (retired)

    "White Lightning," as Allan Donald became affectionately known, was the mainstay of the South African bowling attack after readmission.

    The first South African to take over 300 wickets in Tests, he was a ferocious opponent. He also managed over 1,200 wickets in first-class cricket in total. One of the best ever.

Paul Adams

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    Caps: 45, Wickets: 134, Average: 32.87, Econ: 2.98 (retired)

    Spin bowling has never really been South Africa's forte, but Paul Adams surely was entertaining in the mid-90s.

    His innovative bowling style became known as "frog in a blender" and he brought enough of that something different to make him a candidate for the thankless role of spinner in South Africa. 

Makhaya Ntini

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    Caps: 101, Wickets: 390: Average: 28.82, Econ: 3.23 (retired) 

    Considering the meaty batting lineup of this particular all-time XI, packing it with bowlers is an easy call. Makhaya Ntini wasn't the poster child for fast bowlers, but he did have stamina and he was relentless.