The Proteas have played a lot less ODI cricket than the rest of the world as they were only allowed back onto the scene in 1991, but the players who have worn the green and gold of South Africa have been some of the most dynamic ever produced. They arguably should have won a won a World Cup along the way, but have been prohibited by fear of failure. Here is the greatest ODI XI through the ages.
11. Allan Donald
Allan Donald enjoyed a better strike rate with the white ball than he did with the red. His performances with the ball for South Africa in the ODI format were nothing short of phenomenal. Donald had blistering pace and could have it going both ways off the seam. This made it nigh on impossible to get set, especially when playing under lights. In his 164 games he took 272 wickets at an average of 21.78. Donald’s influence on the ODI side was huge as he often caused havoc by ripping through the top order of opponents. White Lightening was a world beater in every sense.
10. Makhaya Ntini
Makhaya Ntini’s early stages of his career were shrouded in controversy as he fought a rape conviction that he eventually over turned and was acquitted. He then enjoyed a 10 year career that saw him become one of the best bowlers South Africa has seen. His ODI record is up here with the very best. In 173 games he took 266 wickets at an average of 24.65. During those 173 games he managed to go at under 5 to the over. He enjoyed particular success to the left-handed batsman. There was always hope and possibility once the ‘Mdingi Express’ had the ball.
9. Imran Tahir
Imran Tahir has been a revelation in ODI cricket for South Africa. His strike rate of 30.7 is the best of any South African ODI bowler. In his 78 games has taken 132 wickets at an average of 23.87. His control during the middle overs is sensational. He doesn’t just slow the run rate down but he takes wickets regularly. Tahir would comfortably walk into any team in the world. The value he offers is unparalleled. He has played many match winning performances for the Proteas and will continue to do so with one eye on hanging up his boots after the 2019 World Cup, hopefully having one it for his sake.
8. Shaun Pollock
Like anything Shaun Pollock touched in the cricketing world it turned to gold, he was as prolific in ODI’s as he was in tests. His control with the white ball was exemplary. Pollock would bowl wicket to wicket deliveries and frustrate batsman which often ended in them playing a false stroke and getting out. In 303 games Pollock took 393 wickets at an average of 24.50, making him the leading wicket taker for South Africa in the ODI format. His ability to bat made him the world’s premium all-rounder at one stage. He averaged 26.45 over his 303 games and scored 3519 runs with his best being a mammoth 130. Pollock would be there season after season, ready to adapt and thrive.
7. Quinton de Kock
Leaving Marc Boucher out of any greatest XI side for South Africa isn’t easy, but this illustrates just how good Quinton de Kock is. In 85 games, de Kock has scored 3519 runs at an average of 43.44. If he keeps going as he is, then by the time he has played the same amount of games for South Africa as Boucher did, he would have scored over 7500 more runs than him – a huge stat that shows that de Kock is every bit as good as people say he is. It really is all set up for de Kock to become a great of the game. His glove work is also tidy as he has taken 111 catches and 6 stumpings in his 85 games.
6. Lance Klusener
Lance Klusener adds a huge amount of strength to this team as he was one of the best all-rounders to play the game. His explosive hitting towards the end of an innings was enough to bring a team to its knees. He was also very accurate with the ball and bowled cleverly. Adapting to the situation is what he did well. His gentle off-cutters towards the back end of his career left many batsman unable to score and often out. In 171 games he scored 3576 runs at an average of 41.10. With the white ball he took 192 wickets at an average of 29.95. Klusener was the man for an emergency and would often get South Africa over the line from the most desperate situations.
5. AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers would be the first name on the team sheet of any greatest team, it is just where you put him in to bat. His record in the 50 over format is quite outstanding. In his 222 games he has scored 9319 runs at an average of 53.55. That is a sensational record but the most impressive thing is how AB has gone about scoring those runs. His flamboyant style has made him box office. He makes the impossible seem downright ordinary. The time he creates and the vision he has is thrilling to watch. He’s not done yet and will look to make the 2019 World Cup his own before retirement.
4. Jacques Kallis
Jacques Kallis was one of the best ODI batsman and bowlers but definitely the best ODI all-rounder the game has seen. He was an ever present in the South African team for close to twenty years. When accused of batting too slowly he showed he could take an attack apart with a quick change of gear. There wasn’t a format that Kallis did not dominate. In his 328 games he scored 11579 runs at an average of 44.36. He also took 273 wickets at an average of 31.79. He was the rock that held it all together and made South Africa a formidable force.
3. Hashim Amla
There are few better sights than Hashim Amla batting in an ODI game once he is settled. He is merciless and ready to smash any loose ball away to the boundary with disdain. He has become South Africa’s most consistent performer in ODI cricket. Amla’s average is over 50 and he has scored 7186 runs in 156 games. It is truly an astounding effort. With more time Amla could go on and become the greatest batsman in ODI’s for South Africa but his age may not allow it. One thing is for certain and that is the peaceful warrior will keep churning out the runs for as long as he is able to.
2. Herschelle Gibbs
There wasn’t a single person safe in the crowd when Gibbs began to launch. His innings in the famous 438 game against Australia was the most pulsating batting any cricket fan is likely to watch. He went on to score 175 off 111 balls. His strike rate on that day was 157.65. Gibbs was different class and would thrive on the biggest stage. In his 248 games he scored 8094 runs at an average of 36.13. When you needed to get off to a fast start Herschelle Gibbs would give you what you needed. Still today he is the most talented batsman South Africa has ever had in the ODI format.
1. Graeme Smith
Graeme Smith was the finest leader South Africa had in the ODI format. His punishing batting at the top of the order was similar to his character, incredibly dismissive to anything sub standard. In his 197 matches he scored 6989 runs at an average of 37.98. There was possibly better opening batsman for South Africa but no better leader. When you match his batting with his leadership you get a juggernaut of a player. In 149 games as captain he won 92 with a win percentage of 64.23. Smith was the man South Africa knew they could rely on, he did not disappoint and instead went on to become the greatest ODI captain for South Africa.
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