Johannesburg - Jacques Rudolph of the Nashua Titans and Imran Tahir of the Nashua Dolphins finished the domestic season as the lead runs scorer and the leading wicket taker respectively in the SuperSport Series.
Rudolph had a spectacular return to the ranks of those eligible to play for the Proteas after giving up his Kolpak contract with Yorkshire. His 954 runs were made at an average of 59.62 and he was the only player to make four centuries.
Tahir’s figures were even more impressive. He was only available for half of the first-class programme but still took 42 wickets in five matches with six five-wicket hauls and two 10-wicket hauls.
The leg-spinner has already gone on to make a commanding debut for the Proteas’ ODI squad at the World Cup where he took 14 wickets in five matches and had the leading average for those who had played a significant number of games of 10.71.
He only became eligible for the Proteas at the start of the year and it thus came too late for him to be considered for the Castle Test series against India and the next question to be answered is whether he fits into the selectors’ plans for five-day cricket as well.
Much will depend on the identity of the new Proteas’ coach who will have the major input on the tactics to be followed in this format of the game.
The Proteas already have a very strong top order but it is always good to know that there are other players knocking on the door and putting pressure on the incumbents.
Rudolph certainly falls into that category bringing the experience of 35 Test appearances and more than 2 000 runs including five centuries and a career best of 222 not out on debut against Bangladesh.
At the age of 29 he is very much in his prime and he has the advantage of being able to bat anywhere in the top six.
He gets the chance to press his claims further when he leads the South Africa A side in the first of two four-day Test matches against their Bangladesh counterparts at Senwes Park on Thursday.
The selectors have taken note of good performances in this national feeder team and it has paved the way for the likes of Colin Ingram, David Miller and Rusty Theron to move up to full international level.
Not all of South Africa’s next best talents are available for the A side as the likes of Albie Morkel, Rilee Rossouw, Jonathan Vandiar, Robbie Frylinck and Miller will all be gaining valuable international experience in the Indian Premier League which starts on Friday.
Another interesting pointer is to look at what a SuperSport Series XI would look like based on this season’s form.
Based purely on averages which are normally a reliable guide over a period of time it would read something like this (in batting order): Jacques Rudolph (Nashua Titans), Andrew Puttick (Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras), Stiaan van Zyl (Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras), Vaughn van Jaarsveld (Nashua Dolphins), Albie Morkel (Nashua Titans), Obus Pienaar (Chevrolet Knights), Ryan Canning (Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras), Vernon Philander (Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras), Andrew Birch (Chevrolet Warriors), Imran Tahir (Nashua Dolphins), Ethy Mbhalati (Nashua Titans).