South Africa vs. Australia: Player Ratings for Proteas After 3rd Test
If player ratings were done with a big, red pen like schoolwork, there would be some massive lines through the South African players' performances.
As individuals, many have a struggled to perform, and while much of that has been down to some superb performances by the Aussies, a couple have been let down by sloppy shots.
South Africa showed some serious character on the fifth day and so very nearly managed a great escape, but ultimately their failings in the first innings let them down.
Ratings remain subjective and while every player who managed a vigil on the fifth and final day probably deserve a 10 for effort, the game is played over five days and constantly losing sessions cost the Proteas.
First innings runs count more heavily than second innings runs in most cases of ratings, but here additional points are given for those who dug in on day five.
1. Graeme Smith
With the bat: 3 & 10
If rankings were done on emotion, Graeme Smith would get a 10. The South African captain announced his retirement from all forms of international cricket in the middle of the Test.
The romantics would have wanted him to go on and stick it out for one more fourth innings dig for the history books, but it wasn't to be. Alex Doolan at short leg ended it all, placed there because Michael Clarke knows Smith likes to score there.
From a captaincy perspective, Smith could have not done much different other than win the toss. He was hampered by Vernon Philander under-performing and Dale Steyn being injured in the first innings, making it difficult to control the game.
Luckily, Smith's career won't be remembered for this dig.
2. Alviro Petersen
With the bat: 53 & 1
Whenever the axe is about to fall on Alviro Petersen, he saves his place in the team. He managed a handy 53 in the first innings before getting himself out with a loose shot but was back to his usual self in the second innings when the team really needed him.
Although Petersen got out to a good ball from Ryan Harris, it was something which could have been prevented. Considering the irresponsible shot which got him out in the first innings and how desperately South Africa needed somebody from the top order to dig in in the second, Petersen gets a rating on the low side.
3. Dean Elgar
With the bat: 11 & 0
Dean Elgar hasn't had the best of time with the South African squad. He's constantly shuffled around in the order, and after digging in for a gritty knock in the second Test in Port Elizabeth opening the batting, he was moved down to No. 3. With Petersen returning to the side after recovering from a viral infection, Elgar had to slot in at three.
His first innings dismissal was thanks to a fine catch from Brad Haddin, but the second innings was somewhat wonky. After being roughed up by a bouncer, Elgar got caught on his back foot and had his stumps disrupted, not exactly the way for South Africa's future opening batsman to get out.
4. Hashim Amla
With the bat: 38 & 41
Even an out-of-form Hashim Amla can be pretty handy. In the first innings, Amla was dismissed by a Ryan Harris delivery which was described by Mitchell Johnson as being a "Dale Steyn" ball. In the second, James Pattinson got the ball to reverse just a tad and the approach that worked for Amla all along was his downfall.
Considering the performance of the rest of the top-order batsmen, Amla gets a higher rating since he outscored them both and got out with two pretty good balls instead of playing rash shots.
5. AB De Villiers
With the bat: 14 & 43
AB de Villiers was on course for the slowest 50 in the history of Test cricket before his vigil in the second innings was ended. Trevor Bailey holds that honour and crawled to 50 off 350 balls, De Villiers lasted 228 balls in South Africa's desperate vigil to save the Test.
Before the fifth day, De Villiers, once again, made Mitchell Johnson look like a medium pacer. His ability to adapt to any game situation is simply extraordinary.
Despite making a mistake in the first innings, edging through to Michael Clarke in the slips, his dig-in effort in the second almost rights all his wrongs.
6. Faf Du Plessis
With the bat: 67 & 47
Faf du Plessis seems finally to be growing into a Test player. A loose shot ended his innings in the first innings and Steve Smith got him in the second, but Du Plessis looked much more self-assured than most of the players in the team.
To bat against the current Aussie bowlers is no easy task, and when everyone around you keeps losing their heads, perhaps you can't be blamed for having a rare lapse, especially if you've spent more time at the crease than some of your teammates combined.
7. JP Duminy
With the bat: 4 & 43
JP Duminy made up for his lack of runs in the first innings by taking four wickets. With no Robin Peterson in the team, he has become the go-to spinner and it's starting to look like a good move. Although he couldn't reproduce the bowling magic in Australia's second innings, he made up for it with the bat.
He spent more than two hours at the crease, and although his dismissal was soft, he showed some of the old scrapping fight he has built a reputation on.
8. Vernon Philander
With the ball: 1-116 & 0-42
Somewhat at sea with the ball in this Test and this series, Philander gave his teammates a lesson in how to bat as South Africa came within just a few overs of saving the Test.
He conceded the most runs in an innings for his career in the first innings and looked loose and out of sorts in the second. However, a valiant and unbeaten 51 so very nearly made him the hero of the day at Newlands.
He withstood body blows and bouncers, and although his effort was in vain in the end, perhaps he has certainly shown signs of being a possible all-round option for South Africa.
10. Dale Steyn
With the ball: 1-44 & 0-24
It's not really fair to give a man with a dodgy hamstring a rating, but if there was a rating for heart and effort, Dale Steyn would get a 10 plus.
He strained a hamstring during Australia's first innings and limped off the field. It was initially thought that he'd be okay to bowl on the second day but wasn't. Despite treatment, Steyn sat out of the first innings bowling. He came in to bat for South Africa in their first innings and was limping and wobbling about between the wickets.
Despite struggling, Steyn still waddled out to the wicket in the second innings and batted for 75 minutes. He didn't run much, he just resisted. What a player.
10. Kyle Abbott
With the ball: 0-68 & 3-61
Kyle Abbott was playing in only the second Test of his career and he was thrown right into the deep end. With the series on the line, Dale Steyn struggling with injury and Vernon Philander struggling for form, Abbott had a big job to do.
Basic line and length bowling aided Abbott's cause in the second innings and then, of course, there was his vigil with the bat, too. Sent in as a nightwatchman, after looking like he was wearing concrete boots in the first innings, Abbott survived 113 minutes for seven runs.
11. Morne Morkel
With the ball: 0-94 & 1-67
Morne Morkel took the scruffy approach to bowling in the last two Tests, abandoning his usual placid approach for a more in-your-face kind of approach. It was entertaining to see him fling bouncers at Michael Clarke for an entire over, but he failed to think a bit further and use the softening up to get wickets.
With Dale Steyn out and Vernon Philander's bowling a bit off, a lot more was expected of Morkel. He delivered in some aspects, but he wasn't thinking all that smartly about his bowling in this Test.
Previously, when roughing up a player, somebody would be there to take a wicket. At Cape Town, there was no one, and instead of bowling six short balls, perhaps five short balls and one outside off might have been a better option now and again.