South Africa vs. Australia: Player Ratings for Proteas After 2nd Test
South Africa completed an emphatic comeback at St. George's Park in Port Elizabeth to beat Australia by 231 runs and ensure the series is square 1-1 heading to Newlands.
There were three centurions for the hosts, but it's the bowlers who really made things happen. On a flattish surface, they took 20 wickets and managed to get extra pace and bounce where Australia couldn't.
Their second-innings efforts were particularly impressive. A bowler short, with Wayne Parnell out injured and no real frontline spinner, South Africa's three-pronged attack brutalised Australia in less than a day to wrap up the win.
As a result, the ratings are skewed towards the bowlers with the surface taken into account. Of course, the batsmen who scored tons cannot be discounted, but it's the bowlers who deserve heaps of praise and high ratings for this Test.
1. Graeme Smith
With the bat: 9 and 14
Graeme Smith is having a rather dodgy series with the bat and both of his dismissals during the second Test in PE were because of a dubious approach. At times, his bowling changes have also been questionable, and the declaration so could have easily cost South Africa a famous comeback win.
At the end of the day, none of that mattered as South Africa managed to secure victory, thanks to a breathless session of Test cricket. Smith rarely has an entire bad series, and all eyes are now on him heading to Newlands for the final Test. A good effort with the bat and some crafty captaincy is needed.
2. Dean Elgar
With the bat: 83 and 16
With the ball: 0/1 and 1/24
Out of contract and so very nearly batting out of position again, Dean Elgar showed that there is indeed a future for him in the SA team, and that place is at the top of the order. With Alviro Petersen out due to a viral infection, Elgar came in, and his resolved effort showed what could be achieved against Australia's bowling attack before a rather loose shot ended his knock.
A mature and much-needed 83 off 193 balls in the first innings will leave selectors scratching their heads for the final Test, assuming Petersen is available for selection. Elgar also took the final wicket in the final breathless session of the Test.
A ton in the first innings would have been the cherry on top of his effort, but overall, his contribution in the first innings was invaluable.
3. Hashim Amla
With the bat: 0 and 127*
A number of people boarded at the panic station after Hashim Amla had his worst run of form since 2006.
As with any player who goes through a dip, some thought that with Amla now hitting 30, he could be heading past his best.
But that all changed at St. George's, and the Amla of old returned. With his wristy flicks, his mesmerising cover drives and a cool and calm temperament, Amla's second-innings hundred helped set up the match beautifully. It's not like he needed to "make a comeback," but he certainly made a statement in a very polite way.
4. Faf du Plessis
With the bat: 55 and 24
Much like Elgar, Faf du Plessis dug in during the first innings for a feisty, fighting 55. His dismissal in the was quite soft, that said, and had the rest of the batting order failed, his effort probably would have been questioned.
Du Plessis is still settling into the No. 4 slot after taking over from retired Jacques Kallis and probably needs a little bit of time to adjust his game and approach. He's shown that he has the grit to bat for long periods of time on a few occasions now, and it's probably just a matter of time before he notches up the next Test-match ton.
5. AB de Villiers
With the bat: 116 and 29
It's hard to cut the rating points of a man who scored a hundred in a Test match, but despite outstanding form with the bat, AB De Villiers loses points because his keeping behind the stumps was somewhat questionable. There wasn't much carry at St. George's, but a few catches and chances still went flying past him.
Still, his freakish batting form cannot be discounted. South Africa's golden boy can do no wrong with the bat. Although his dismissal in the second innings was probably a tad irresponsible, in the greater context of the game, there was very little wrong with it.
6. Quinton De Kock
With the bat: 7 and 34
Flown in as cover on the eve of the second Test, Quinton de Kock probably didn't expect his Test debut to come so soon. In the first innings, the recklessness of his youth showed. With ages of time left in the Test, De Kock took on part-time bowler Steve Smith and played a terrible shot which he chipped to mid-on.
His second-innings effort was far more composed, and he probably got out because he was looking to accelerate the run rate. De Kock has the talent to one day become a great batsman in all forms of the game, but there are still a few uncertainties over whether he's ready for Test cricket yet.
7. JP Duminy
With the bat: 123 and 18*
With the ball: 1/24 and 1/33
JP Duminy's century and two wickets earned him a Man of the Match award. Another player whose back was up against the wall and in desperate need of runs, Duminy did what was very much needed.
Dropped down to bat at No. 7 with de Kock now in the team, Duminy's role in the side changed, but he combined with de Villiers for a solid 149-run stand to propel South Africa into control of the match—an advantage they never relinquished.
Added to his batting role, with Robin Peterson dropped from the side, it was up to Duminy to fill in as part-time spinner. He managed 19 overs in the Test and impressed in the second innings with an economy rate of 2.35.
8. Wayne Parnell
With the ball: 2-31
With the bat: 10
After waiting four years to make his return to Test cricket, Wayne Parnell announced his arrival with two wickets in his first over. His raw pace and his left-arm action is the kind of X-factor addition to the team that makes things happen.
But the fairy tale didn't last, and in his ninth over, Parnell's groin played up, and he had to be taken off the field. He couldn't bowl for the remainder of the Test, and everyone will be wondering what could have been if he managed to bowl in both innings.
South Africa now have a race against time to ensure he is fit for the third and final Test to see whether the new-look Parnell can keep on delivering. The Proteas will hope this was not a false dawn.
9. Vernon Philander
With the ball: 3-68 and 2-39
With the bat: 6
Despite suffering from flu during the first Test and nearly not playing in the second, Philander did what he usually does: He took wickets. Probing, on point and effective, Philander showed that he can be effective on a flat deck.
He was particularly impressive in the second innings where he not only managed wickets, but he also kept the run rate down as Australia's batsmen collapsed like flies. He might not always have the ferocious pace of some of his colleagues, but the areas Philander bowls are incredibly effective.
10. Dale Steyn
With the ball: 1-55 and 4-55
Relentless, breathless and hostile, the Dale Steyn everyone knows returned on the fourth day of the Test. He managed to get Brad Haddin out with the same delivery twice, a ball so good, you'd probably like to introduce it to your mother.
Steyn never let up on the fourth day and bowled out of his skin to help set up an emphatic comeback victory. There is a reason why he has been ranked the No. 1 bowler in Test cricket for so long, and it showed on a flattish surface.
There are few things as enjoyable as Steyn in full flow, and although he might have looked slightly below his peak in the first Test, he proved that he is still the world's best.
11. Morne Morkel
With the ball: 3-63 and 1-46
When Morne Morkel is bowling fast, he's pretty scary. In the first innings, Morkel was fast and managed to get bounce on a surface where Australia's Mitchell Johnson just couldn't get going. Morkel's role is often a containment bowler, but when he gets going, it's quite something to watch.
Bounce, pace and a barrage of balls flying in at head height is something the spindly speedster is really good at. Although he retreated somewhat in the second innings, his efforts in the first will go down as one of the best in his career.