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The all-time South Africa Test XI, according to the ICC rankings

by Wisden Staff 5 minute read

Who would make the cut in an all-time South Africa Test XI? The team has produced a number of greats of the game – we pick all-time XI, based on the ICC rankings.

Similar to other XI in the past, we have picked our team based on a few rules: the five top-rated South African batters are selected, the wicketkeeper with the highest batting rating, the highest-rated all-rounder and the four best-rated bowlers.

Hashim Amla

Career best batting ranking: 30; Career best batting rating: 907
124 Tests, 9,282 runs @ 46.64

The opener, one of the greatest batsmen from the country, remains South Africa second-highest run-scorer. A versatile batsman who could switch between defence and attack with ease, Amla averaged over 54.11 in wins, which indicates how crucial he was for the side.

Herbert Taylor

Career best batting ranking: 74; Career best batting rating: 844
42 Tests, 2,936 runs @ 40.77

Herbert Taylor led South Africa when he was just over 24 years old. He averaged 47.96 as captain of the side — much higher than his career average. Taylor scored 582 runs against England in 1922/23: the second-most runs scored by a South Africa captain in a single Test series.

Aubrey Faulker

Career best all-rounder ranking: 9; Career best all-rounder rating: 501
25 Tests, 1,754 runs @ 40.75; 25 Tests, 82 wickets @ 26.58

Before his modern counterparts came along, Faulkner established himself as a world-class all-rounder from South Africa. He has scored seven fifties in a row, and would often open the batting and bowling for South Africa. Faulkner has a difference of 14.17 in his batting and bowling averages, highlighting his effectiveness in both departments.

Jacques Kallis

Career best batting ranking: 12; Career best batting rating: 935
166 Tests, 13, 289 runs @ 55.37

Kallis is undoubtedly one of the biggest superstars from South Africa, and arguably the greatest all-rounders of the modern game. The highest run-getter from the country in Tests, and the third-highest overall, Kallis was also a match-winner with the ball, picking up 292 wickets at an average of 32.65. The player has won the most Player of the Match awards (23) in Tests, and is the highest-ranked South Africa player in the ICC all-time batsman ratings.

Graeme Pollock

Career best batting ranking: 16; Career best batting rating: 927
23 Tests, 2,256 runs @ 60.97

The player has the best batting average among batters from South Africa, and is fourth on the overall list. In just 23 games, Pollock scored seven tons and 11 fifties, with a high score of 274. Most of his runs came against Australia, against whom he scored 1,453 runs in 14 games at an average of 69.19.

AB de Villiers

Career best batting ranking: 12; Career best batting rating: 935
114 Tests, 8,765 runs @ 50.66

De Villiers went 78 innings before his first duck in Test cricket: the most by any other player in the history of the game. He played 98 successive games for his team, which is evidence of his consistency and his fitness levels. Mr. 360, as he is called, scored fifties in 12 successive matches (the highest by any player), and also has the record for most catches by a wicketkeeper in a game – 11.

Dudley Nourse

Career best batting ranking: 18; Career best batting rating: 922
34 Tests, 2,960 runs @ 53.81

At 40 years and 207 days, Nourse was one of the oldest players to score a ton in the format. He took just 41 matches to score 2,000 runs, and is one of the top three batters from the country based on rating points in the ICC all-time batting list.

Shaun Pollock

Career best bowling ranking: 12; Career best bowling rating: 909
108 Tests, 421 wickets @ 23.11

Tied 12th with Dale Steyn in the all-time ICC bowling ratings, Pollock has the second-most wickets by a South African in Test cricket. He sent down 24,353 balls in his career and was a dependable batsman lower down the order. Overall, he scored 3,781 runs in his career, including two hundreds and 16 fifties at an average of 32.31.

Vernon Philander

Career best bowling ranking: 7; Career best bowling rating: 912
64 Tests, 224 wickets @ 22.32

The only South African to be ranked in the top ten of the ICC all-time bowler’s list, Philander has best figures of 5-7 in an innings, which is the third-best in the history of the game. He took just seven matches to get to 50 wickets, and another 12 to scalp 100 Test wickets.

Dale Steyn

Career best bowling ranking: 12; Career best bowling rating: 909
93 Tests, 439 wickets @ 22.95

The quick is the top wicket-taker from South Africa in Test cricket and has stamped his mark as one of the best bowlers of the era. With a bowling strike rate of just 42.3, and a total of five ten-fors in a game in his Test career, Steyn is undoubtedly one of the greats of the game.

Kagiso Rabada

Career best bowling ranking: 22; Career best bowling rating: 902
47 Tests, 213 wickets @ 22.75

The 26-year-old has a strike rate of 41.2 in Test cricket — the best by any other player from his country. He is one of the youngest players to pick up a ten-for, and took just 44 matches to get to 200 wickets in the format.

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