The Standard Bank Proteas have claimed their first unilateral series win over Australia since 2008/9 and the outcome in the last two games will confirm and give perspective to the upcoming talent to remain in the higher echelons of world cricket. While Australia have notable absentees in some of their top bowlers, South Africa have also been missing players – AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla (for the first two games) and Morne Morkel spring readily to mind – and the series has provided an encouraging view of the depth the Proteas have.
While David Miller breathed new life into his international career with his spectacular unbeaten century to clinch the ODI Series at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead and Rilee Rossouw filled in seamlessly for Amla at the top of the order, it is perhaps Andile Phehlukwayo’s performances that have been the most exciting with a view to the future.
Andile has managed to make crucial contributions with both ball and bat within his first four ODIs shows that South African cricket’s pipelines are still working. Kyle Abbott, Aaron Phangiso and Tabraiz Shamsi have yet to play in the series, so there are also back-up bowlers to come in and perhaps bolster an attack that has had its weaknesses, but to nowhere near the extent that the Australians have. Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada were outstanding in the second ODI at the Wanderers, but struggled at Centurion and in Durban.
Wayne Parnell also bowled well to take three for 40 in Johannesburg, but injured a rib while fielding in that game and has been ruled out for the rest of the series. His replacement, Dwaine Pretorius, has the control and skills to do well, but perhaps not the pace and swing that the left-armer brings to the party.
Phehlukwayo made an outstanding start with the ball at Centurion, taking four for 44 in 10 overs even though Australia scored 294 for nine, but his bowling was less consistent at the Wanderers and Kingsmead. As ever, Imran Tahir has always been there to chip in with a vital wicket and he has been the most consistent of the Proteas attack over the three games and has the best economy rate of just 4.85 – outstanding in a high-scoring series.
And then there is Miller.
There have been few better ODI innings played for South Africa, especially when one considers that it took the Proteas to the second-highest chase in ODI history, behind just the 438 game also against Australia, and that his team had fallen behind the pace, plus wickets had fallen. “It was a special moment for me to take the team home, to be there at the end and score a hundred, and I will take a lot of confidence from that. I just tried not to show my nerves, but I couldn’t get going at the start, I kept hitting the fielders. But I just decided to take things slowly, soak up the pressure, and then after 15 balls I managed to get a boundary and then it became a bit easier,” Miller said.
“The game had its ebbs and flows but I knew once we got the target down to less than a hundred that that was a big milestone. From there I knew that if we batted 50 overs, we’d win, and that’s what I told Andile.” The last two ODIs of the series are on Sunday in Port Elizabeth and next Wednesday in Cape Town.
St. George’ s is a great venue and we look forward to seeing the boys unleash the fire and hitting the ball with bat all the way to the bank as well as our bowlers that have been in great form, says Hazel Chimhandamba, Group Head of Sponsorship at Standard Bank. Standard Bank believes in the #ProteaFire and we are excited to be powering the team to greater heights as they build for glory.