Building the perfect SA cricket dream XI

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In building our perfect South African cricket dream XI we had to take all three formats of the game into consideration. 
Finding the perfect blend of explosiveness and ability to bowl at batsman swinging the willow in the high octane T20 format to the grit and perseverance needed to succeed at the highest level of Test cricket and everything in-between that ODI cricket brings. 
South Africa has produced some world class cricketers post-isolation and whittling it down to eleven deserving men was no easy task. So without further ado here follows Betway's dream Proteas XI: 

1. Graeme Smith (Captain) 

One of the best Test captains in the history of the game, Smith was appointed Proteas captain at the tender age of 22. He ended his career with 27 Test hundreds and over 9000 Test runs while leading the Proteas to notable series wins in England and Australia. 
Smith also scored close to 7000 ODI runs and while he didn't play a lot of T20 cricket, he scored five half-centuries. Smith was also an outstanding slip fielder and under the left-handed batsman's reign South African cricket fans enjoyed their most joyful moments to date.  

2. Herschelle Gibbs

The explosive right-handed batsman helped usher in a new era of batting style and while he was often in the news for all the wrong reasons, Gibbs was one of the most naturally talented batsman and best fielders the game has ever seen. 
Gibbs scored 21 hundreds, 37 half centuries (who will ever forget that 175 versus Australia) and over 8000 ODI runs. He also scored 14 Test centuries and over 6000 runs for the Proteas and while he played only 23 T20 internationals, there is no doubt he would've dominated the format had he played more, and thus he just edges Gary Kirsten for a place in our XI. 

3. Hashim Amla 

One of the most graceful batsman the world has scene, Amla hammered out early problems with his technique to become one of the country's greatest ever batsman. 
Amla scored over 9000 Test runs at an average of 46.64 while he is the only South African to score a triple hundred with his 311* against England the country's highest individual score while his mark of 28 hundreds is the second most by a Proteas batsman. 
He was equally prolific in ODI cricket: scoring 8000 runs at an average of 49.46 while notching up 27 centuries (most by a South African) and 39 half centuries. He also scored eight half centuries in 44 T20 matches with a high score of 97*. 

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4. Jacques Kallis 

South Africa's greatest ever cricketer, Kallis is widely regarded as one of the best players to have ever graced a cricket field. 
Kallis scored over 13000 Test runs (third on the all time list) and 45 hundreds, more than 11000 ODI runs (eighth on the all time list) and while he played in only 25 T20 matches there is no doubt he would've been up there amongst the highest scorers had he started his career a tad later. 
A superb fielder, Kallis was also an outstanding bowler and took 292 Test wickets and 273 ODI wickets during a glittering all-round career which will be almost impossible to surpass. 

5. AB de Villiers

Another supremely talented sportsman, de Villiers has enjoyed an outstanding career which has made him an icon not only in South Africa but across the globe and most notably India where he is highly revered. 
De Villiers, who has flittered with an international comeback, has scored over 8700 Test runs at an average of 50.66, over 9500 ODI runs (second most by a South African) at an average of 53.50 and 1672 T20 runs. 
An outstanding fielder, De Villiers -- like Gibbs -- was a natural sportsman who could've excelled at the highest level at any number of sporting codes. While 'Mr. 360' will always be referred to as one of the best to have played the game, there will always be a feeling that he could've achieved even more for the Proteas. 

6. Quinton de Kock (Wicketkeeper) 

One of the most devastating batsman in world cricket, De Kock is well on course to becoming one of the game's greats. 
While Mark Boucher will be felt hard done by, there is no doubting that De Kock is the better batsman while his style is perfectly suited for the modern game. De Kock has already scored 15 ODI centuries and 5135 runs at an average of 44.65 and while he opens the batting in One Day and T20 cricket, he is dropped down the order in Test match cricket where he averages 39.12 with the bat while often batting with the tail. 
De Kock is also superb behind the stumps and has over the last year matured into one of the senior figures in the Proteas team. 

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7. Shaun Pollock 

Very well known for his bowling exploits, Pollock's batting often goes undervalued. During his career, Pollock was a powerful hitter of the ball and scored close to 4000 Test runs at an average of 32.31 with two hundreds and 16 half centuries. He also has the most runs batting at both No. 7 and No.8 in ODI cricket for South Africa. 
That said, Pollock was a world class bowler and with 421 Test wickets, he is only behind Dale Steyn as the most successful South African bowler in the five-day format. Furthermore, his mark of 393 ODI wickets is the most by a South African. 
Pollock played in just 12 T20 matches, but like Kallis there is no doubt he would've been very successful in the shortest format of the game had his career started a few years later. 

8. Vernon Philander 

A deadly-accurate bowler and match winner, Philander took the cricketing world by storm as he became the second fastest player to 50 Test wickets; reaching the mark in just seven matches. 
In his 64 Test matches, Philander took 224 wickets at an average of 22.32 and while he played just the 30 ODI matches, he still managed 41 wickets at an average of 24.04. He also proved his worth with the bat and scored eight Test half centuries and while his game was suited for the longer format, some will feel he was unlucky not to feature in more ODI and T20 matches. 

9. Kagiso Rabada 

South Africa has been blessed with world class fast bowlers over the years and while Allan Donald and Makhaya Ntini are extremely unlucky to miss out on our dream XI, it is almost impossible to leave out one the game's brightest gems. 
Rabada became the youngest bowler in history to top the ICC Test rankings at 22 years and 231 days in 2018. At just 24, he has already taken 197 Test wickets (eighth most by a South African), 117 ODI wickets and 30 T20 wickets. 
Constantly reaching devastating speeds between 140-150km/h Rabada is nightmare to face for every batsman while all projections suggest he will one day go down as arguably the best Proteas bowler in history. 


10. Dale Steyn 

While Rabada hopes to one day claim the mantle of South Africa's best bowler, Steyn is arguably the best Test bowler the Proteas have ever produced. 
Steyn is South Africa's leading Test wicket taker with 439 scalps and a record 26 five wicket hauls. The 'Phalaborwa Express' was largely responsible for South Africa's success in the longest format of the game under Smith's captaincy and his extreme pace will never be forgotten by those who faced him. 
Steyn has also enjoyed success in both ODI and T20 cricket and is currently the Proteas leading all-time wicket taker in the shortest format of the game. 

11. Imran Tahir 

South Africa doesn't boast a rich history of world class spinners and while the likes of Paul Adams, Nicky Boje, Paul Harris and more recently Keshav Maharaj have done their bit to try and dispel that notion, there is no doubting Tahir as one of the best ODI and T20 spinners in world cricket over the last decade. 
A late bloomer, at 41 years of age Tahir is arguably still South Africa's best option in both ODI and T20 cricket. Tahir has taken 173 wickets ODI wickets and 63 T20 wickets. 
While he was unable to replicate his success in the shorter formats onto Test cricket, there is little doubting he is South Africa's most lethal spin bowler of the last three decades. 

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Published: 05/05/2020