South Africa vs. Australia: Player Ratings for Baggy Greens After 2nd Test
Australia succumbed to their first lost in seven Tests on Sunday, after an inspired Dale Steyn ripped through the visitors to end any chance of a record fourth-innings chase.
After dominating each of their previous six matches, Michael Clarke's side was forced out of their comfort zone at Port Elizabeth, with the hosts putting together a complete and impressive performance to dismantle the confident tourists.
On a slow pitch, Australia's attack lacked the venom they have possessed in recent encounters, while the team's batsmen struggled under the weight of both scoreboard pressure and the intensity of South Africa's pace battery.
Yet, the South African victory sets up the finale this captivating series deserves, with the sides ready to descend on Cape Town for a tantalising decider.
But before we get to one of the world's most iconic cricketing locations, here are the ratings for each Australian player after the second Test at Port Elizabeth.
Criteria and Explanation of Ratings
- First-innings runs carry more weight than those scored in the second innings.
- Runs scored in difficult situations are valued more highly than runs compiled when a team is well in front.
- The captain will be judged on his performance in the field in addition to his other contributions with bat or ball.
- Moments of brilliance or game-defining acts are looked upon favourably.
- Performing to a high standard in conditions that don't suit a player's skill set boosts a player's rating.
- Acts of poor judgement, rather than poor execution, significantly hurt a player's rating.
Before employing a rating system, it's important to outline the key criteria used to award those ratings.
Of course, sheer weight of runs and wickets will largely determine a player's match rating. However, the following factors also have a significant bearing on the rating of each player:
With the bat: 5, 107
Through his first three innings in this series, Chris Rogers had appeared vastly uncomfortable against South Africa's world-class pace attack.
In the second innings at Port Elizabeth, the gritty left-hander compiled his first meaningful contribution of the tour with a dogged century as his teammates wilted around him.
In what is becoming the hallmark of his short Test career, Rogers put together another defiant effort at a time when his team most needed it. In the same manner as his hundreds in both Melbourne and Durham last year, the 36-year-old's display was far from spectacular.
Yet, there's a determination in the veteran's displays that is highly admirable, leaving him as a critical component in this Australian team.
With the bat: 70, 66
With the ball: 0/10, DNB
David Warner's importance to this Australian team was highlighted by South Africa's reaction to claiming his wicket in the second innings.
Such is the left-hander's explosive capacity, that opposing teams are acutely aware of how quickly a game can be taken away by Warner's aggression.
In both innings at Port Elizabeth, the combative Australian opener was at his fluent best, hammering the South African attack for 136 runs from only 151 deliveries across two innings.
However, the 27-year-old will be disappointed with his failure to convert two promising efforts into large totals, particularly with the struggles of his middle-order teammates.
With the bat: 8, 5
Alex Doolan's impressive debut performance at Centurion was the catalyst for his selection for the second Test ahead of Shane Watson.
After a disastrous showing at Port Elizabeth, it seems unlikely that the Tasmanian will retain his place in the side.
In both innings, the right-hander's weakness outside off-stump was exposed, as South Africa's lethal attack focussed their energy on forcing the crease-happy batsman forward.
The manner of Doolan's second-innings struggle will have also concerned Australia's selectors, with his laboured effort assisting the home side's final-session assault.
With the bat: 0, 0
From feast to famine, Shaun Marsh's experience at Port Elizabeth couldn't have been in more stark contrast to his overwhelming success at Centurion.
Despite arriving at the second Test of this showdown high on confidence after a sterling hundred in the series opener, Marsh recorded a desperately disappointing pair to hamper Australia's batting displays at Port Elizabeth.
In fact, the left-hander faced just three balls in the match and was dismissed by two of them. It's mighty difficult to do worse.
With the bat: 19, 1
Michael Clarke's ongoing struggles with the bat had been glossed over during Australia's impressive winning streak. Through the excellence of his teammates and some inspired exhibitions of on-field captaincy, the Australian skipper's barren run hadn't been a cause for concern.
It is now.
With South Africa's dominant attack ripping through the visitors' line-up, Australia desperately needed their finest batsman to alleviate some of the pressure by piling on the runs himself.
Unfortunately, the captain wasn't able to answer his team's calls in either innings; his stretch of 11 innings without a score above 24 suddenly became a real headache in the Australian camp.
With the bat: 49, 0
Steve Smith can count himself a little unlucky for his first-innings dismissal at Port Elizabeth, given that South Africa's successful review for the right-hander's wicket was founded upon scarcely little evidence.
At that point, Australia's blossoming 24-year-old appeared to be working towards another impressive performance, with his comfort against the home side's pace brigade contrasting to that of many of his teammates.
Yet, as the second innings arrived, Smith was powerless to repel Steyn at his most lethal; the prolific speedster delivering an unplayable, reverse-swinging thunderbolt to remove Smith from his very first ball.
With the bat: 9, 1
With the gloves: 4 dismissals
It's the only way one can describe Brad Haddin's dismissals at Port Elizabeth.
On both occasions Steyn was the bowler. On both occasions, the ball dipped in late. On both occasions Haddin played down the wrong line. And on both occasions, his middle stump was left flat on the ground.
For a man who was heroic for Australia during their recent Ashes triumph, the wicket-keeper's struggles in this series against South Africa have reminded us all of how quickly form can turn.
With the ball: 1/70, 2/51
With the bat: 27, 6
Perhaps it was the pitch. Perhaps it was the match situation. Or maybe, it's just incredibly difficult to repeat the sort of breathtaking performance we witnessed at Centurion.
Likely through the combination of those factors, Mitchell Johnson's influence was markedly lower at Port Elizabeth, as the South Africans neutralised the devastating left-armer to grab a decisive hold of the second Test.
Certainly, this match represented the first time in his renaissance that Johnson had bowled without the advantage of scoreboard pressure weighing down the opponent, and the effect it had was telling.
When the teams meet in Cape Town, Johnson's contribution will be critical in the decider's outcome.
With the ball: 1/63, 0/74
With the bat: 26, 6
It seems as though Ryan Harris' lingering knee injury is beginning to slow the bustling right-armer down.
Indeed, Harris is due for knee surgery when this series concludes, but his showing at Port Elizabeth appeared to indicate that the 34-year-old is battling more than most have previously believed.
The extra yard of pace and the lively nip that Harris is synonymous with were nonexistent in the second Test, which was evident in his concession of almost six runs per over in South Africa's second innings.
With his speed down and his threat vastly reduced, the extended break between the second and final matches of this series arrives at a welcome time for Harris.
With the ball: 0/96, 2/89
With the bat: 11*, 3*
It's on these very pitches that Peter Siddle is required to do the dirty work for Australia.
With Johnson reserved for high-impact assaults and Harris' knee requiring acute workload management, Siddle's tireless efforts were called upon regularly by his captain at Port Elizabeth.
The durable right-armer did respond, bowling 53 overs across the Test, but like Harris, the usual verve and bustle associated with his efforts appeared to be subdued.
At times, Siddle dropped below the 130 km/h mark, which at Test level, becomes rather pedestrian. And while his second-innings effort yielded more reward, the 29-year-old will be keen to exert a greater influence in Cape Town.
With the ball: 5/130, 1/48
With the bat: 15, 0
If there had been any doubts remaining over Nathan Lyon, it was his ability to bowl sides out when conditions nullify the threat of the seamers and place an emphasis on the team's spinner.
At Port Elizabeth, the emerging off-spinner quelled those concerns, bowling with discipline and intelligence to secure an impressive five-wicket haul against a powerful batting line-up.
Though the 26-year-old operates without many of the deceiving deliveries that define subcontinental finger-spinners, Lyon's variation in speed and flight made him a difficult proposition for the home side's batsmen; the natural and uncanny bounce derived from his action enhancing his overall threat.
In what was a tough match for Australia's attack, Lyon was the clear standout.