Proteas

5 talking points: Australia v Proteas

2016-11-07 12:28
Faf du Plessis and Kagiso Rabada (Getty)

Cape Town - It is surely one of the most enthralling Test matches that the Proteas have played in recent memory, and it couldn't have turned out better for South African fans. 

At the end of day 1, the visitors had been bowled out for 244 while a David Warner-inspired Australia were sitting pretty at 105/0. 

If South Africa had little chance of a win at that point, it seemed like they had absolutely no chance when Dale Steyn walked off injured on day two and with the Aussies just one wicket down. 

But Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and Keshav Maharaj put in courageous performances as, somehow, Australia were restricted to 234 in their first dig. 

The rest is history. 

It ended up being the complete team performance and the 177-run win will stay fresh in the minds of South Africans for many years to come. 

It means the Proteas are three from three at Perth. Don't be surprised if it is a very, very long time before they play there again. 

In a Test match this captivating, there are things to talk about from start to finish. Here, we look at some of the major talking points to emerge.

1. IS THIS THE END FOR STEYN? 

There is no joy without sorrow. The Proteas have plenty to celebrate following this match, but Dale Steyn's injury has the potential to be tragic if he does not play Test cricket for South Africa again.

Surgery means that the rehabilitation process could last for over six months. That would rule him out of the end-of-year Sri Lanka series as well as next March's tour to New Zealand.

Steyn is 34 in June and he is five wickets behind Shaun Pollock's South African record of 421 Test scalps.

The ICC Champions Trophy starts in June next year, but it may be a little optimistic to expect Steyn to be back to his best by then. A four-Test series in England is penciled in for July and August, and we will be keen to see if Steyn makes that.

If he doesn't, then it could be the end of the road. 

2. TEMBA TURNS INTO 'SUPERMAN'

The replays simply never stopped. Even on the final day, in the final half an hour of the Test, the replays of Temba Bavuma's run-out kept coming. 

It was a superbly athletic piece of fielding from the 26-year-old and it provided one of the most exciting moments of the Test match. 

But, the aesthetics of the run out aside, it was also a crucially important moment in the Test. 

If Australia had any hope of saving the match, David Warner needed to pull off something special. He looked well on his way, too, after cruising to 35 off 33 with six boundaries to his name. 

The Proteas needed something, and with their bowling stocks depleted they would have wanted Warner as quickly as possible. 

Bavuma single-handedly swung the momentum back South Africa's way and got things started.

3. RABADA MASTERCLASS

To think that the Aussies, before the Test started, were vocal on their intentions to target Rabada. They might think twice about that before Hobart.  

Rabada stepped up to the plate in Steyn's absence.

In the second innings he was required to bowl 31 overs, making it 51 overs for the Test match. 

He must have been tired, but he kept his pace up until the very end, only dropping off a bit in his last spell. 

Rabada's control was exceptional and his ability to move the ball both ways made him the standout performer of the Test match.

By the end, the Aussie commentators were simply in awe of the 21-year-old. 

Vernon Philander and his 4/56 in the first innings also deserves special mention. 

4. JP IS AS GOOD AS ANYONE

The decision to bat JP Duminy at No 4 was frowned upon by many during the New Zealand series in August. 

When he walked out in that position again on Thursday morning, there was even more pressure. 

He failed in the first innings, but Duminy's 141 in the second dig was stunning. 

He was positive throughout and his cover driving, in particular, was text book. 

When one sees what Duminy is capable of, it is an absolute travesty that his Test average was 32 and some change coming into this one. 

It was an innings that exuded nothing but class. 

As entertaining as Duminy was, Dean Elgar's 127 was equally valuable and a picture of concentration and focus. 

5. DE KOCK IS THE NEW GILCHRIST

Quinton de Kock was always going to be a major player for the Proteas in this series. He scored back-to-back 50s, but his knock in the first innings was especially valuable as the Proteas had their backs against the wall. 

Like David Warner, De Kock has the ability to change a game so quickly. 

The difference is that the Aussies have Warner at the top of the order, and if he goes quickly it immediately puts the batting line-up under pressure knowing that their trump card has been played. 

De Kock coming in at No 7 is a huge comfort to the South African batting line-up. 

As time passes, he is looking increasingly like South Africa's most valuable player across all formats. 

Former Aussie 'keeper Adam Gilchrist averaged 47.6 in Test cricket coming in at No 7. At the moment De Kock averages 52.4 through 11 Tests. He obviously still has a long way to go, but there is no doubting De Kock's ability. He will remain a key player for the Proteas throughout this series. 

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