Who Are South Africa?
South Africa first entered first-class and international cricket in 1888-89 when they hosted England for a Test series with the first match being played at St Georges Park in Port Elizabeth. Since then, they have played 452 Test matches, winning 174, losing 154, and drawing 124.
South Africa are nicknamed the “Proteas” after South Africa’s national flower, the Protea cynaroides which is commonly known as the “King Protea”. The team is currently coached by former Test wicketkeeper Mark Boucher and captained by opening batsmen Dean Elgar. Whilst overseeing them both as the Director of Cricket is former captain Graeme Smith.
Smith and Boucher are considered to be two of South Africa’s greatest Test match players, alongside the likes of AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Gary Kirsten, Dale Steyn, Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini, Allan Donald, and Morne Morkel. Whilst all-rounder Jacques Kallis is arguably considered as one the greatest cricketers of all time due to his batting, bowling, and fielding capabilities.
In recent years the Proteas have enjoyed strong rivalries with England, South Africa, and Australia. When South Africa play against any of these nations in a Test series os always highly anticipated.
The Test History of South Africa
South Africa has endured a turbulent cricket history. The biggest controversy was when the International Cricket Council (ICC) imposed a moratorium, suspending South Africa from participating in all forms of international cricket in 1970 due to the anti-apartheid movement. The ban would last 21 years, but South Africa were eventually reinstated by the ICC in 1991. Then later in 2000 inspirational Test captain Hansie Cronje was found guilty of match-fixing.
However, in the 21st century South Africa has been a formidable Test team. The Proteas were ranked as the number one Test team in the world in the early 2010’s. Firstly, the number one Test team was to be decided in a three Test series away versus England in 2012.
South Africa went on to take the series comfortably 2–0 and claim the top spot in the rankings, a position they retained for over a full calendar year from 20 August 2012. This is considered to be South Africa’s great triumph in Test cricket. South Africa would go on to regain the number one spot once again in 2014.
Who Holds the Test Records for South Africa?
When we think about South Africa and Test records one name springs to mind, Jacques Kallis. Kallis is the highest Test run scorer for South Africa and is the third highest run scorer in Test cricket history.
He scored an incredible 13,289 runs in 280 innings at an average of 55.37 with 45 hundreds. It doesn’t stop there with Kallis as he also 291 wickets placing him sixth highest on the list of South Africa’s leading wicket takers.
Fast bowler, Dale Steyn is South Africa’s leading wicket taker. He took 439 wickets in 171 innings, which included 26 five wicket hauls. Shaun Pollock is the only other Proteas bowler who has taken more than 400 Test wickets (421), whilst Makhaya Ntini, Allan Donald and Morne Morkel have also all taken more than 300 Test wickets.
Behind Kallis in the batting records is the likes of former captains Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla. Both scored more than 9,000 Test runs with 27 and 28 Test hundreds, respectively. One innings that stand out in South African Test history was by Amla when he scored 311 not out against England at the Oval in 2012 – he is the only South African to score a triple century in Test cricket.