Is this the greatest Proteas ODI XI since readmission?

2020-05-07 12:55
Lance Klusener (Getty)
Lance Klusener (Getty)

When one ponders South Africa's history in ODI cricket, the first thing that comes to mind is the seemingly never-ending heartache when it comes to World Cups. 

The Proteas have always been one of the most consistently performing sides in the global game, but they have failed to spark when it comes to global showpieces. 

From the 1999 Edgbaston semi-final to the rain in Durban in 2003 and the last-over despair in Auckland in 2015, the Proteas have experienced more than their fair share of anguish at World Cups over the years. 

That doesn't detract from the fact that South Africa has produced some superb cricketers in the format over the years. 

A few weeks back, I assembled what I considered to be the Proteas' greatest Test XI since readmission

Compiling the ODI side actually proved to be more difficult - many of the Test players picked themselves.  

It's obviously a matter of personal opinion, so if you disagree with our XI, then let us know what you would change by sending us an email at

Here we go! 

1. Graeme Smith (captain)

Test cricket was certainly his strongest format, but Smith still possessed an ability to manufacture runs at the top of the order in ODI cricket. So strong on the leg side, he could take advantage of anything too straight while he could also clear the ropes when he needed to. Nobody has captained the Proteas more in ODI cricket. 

2. Hashim Amla

Walks into this side. As close to the perfect ODI opening batsman you will ever find. Reached 2 000, 3 000, 4 000 and 5 000 runs quicker than any other player in ODI history and averaged 49.46 in the format. Amla spent almost his entire career opening the batting in ODI cricket. 

3. Jacques Kallis

Comfortably South Africa's highest run scorer in ODI cricket with a staggering 11 550 at 45.11, Kallis is considered by most to be the greatest cricketer this country has ever produced. He is also South Africa's third-highest wicket-taker in the format with 269. Only Allan Donald (272) and Shaun Pollock (387) have more. Enough said, really. 

4. Herschelle Gibbs

Such a special talent. When Gibbs got going, there were few more entertaining. Who could forget his 175 ( off 111 balls) in the famous '438' game against the Aussies back in 2006? That was Gibbs at his devastating best, but an ability to tear opposition attacks apart was something he possessed throughout his career. Drops down the order here. 

5. AB de Villiers

He averages 54.17 in ODI cricket at better than a run a ball. There is not a side in world cricket, perhaps even presently, that would not want De Villiers in their ranks. One of the most innovative players of all time, De Villiers can change the outcome of matches by himself. 

6. Quinton de Kock

De Kock or Boucher? It is a question that does divide opinion, but for me the former rounds off this batting unit perfectly. Like Gibbs did, De Kock opens in ODI cricket, but there is no reason he couldn't do a job lower down. Possesses such firepower and is arguably the current crop's most valuable asset in all three formats. 

7. Shaun Pollock

Might seem a bit high in the batting order for Pollock, but he was always somewhat underrated and underused in that department. As stated above, the Proteas' leading wicket-taker in ODIs. Even when he lost a yard of pace in his later days, Pollock remained a constant threat and that was largely down to his accuracy and skill. 

8. Lance Klusener

People always talk about his heroics in 1999, but Klusener was about so much more than that and his ODI batting average of 41.10 over a career of 171 ODI caps tells its own story. So versatile with the ball, too, and could mix it up depending on the conditions. One of the great South African allrounders, there were simply none like 'Zulu'. 

9. Imran Tahir

Will never have batted this high up in his life, but Tahir is easily the best spinner South Africa has fielded in white ball cricket. A real wicket-taking threat, Tahir's numbers in limited overs cricket are exceptional. 

10. Makhaya Ntini

So incredibly difficult to leave out Dale Steyn, but the numbers show that Ntini played more ODIs, took more wickets and at a better average and economy rate. Steyn playing in a more recent era would account for some of that, but Ntini was a constant in South Africa's attack for a decade. 

11. Allan Donald

Can't not have 'White Lightning'. One of the most feared bowlers of all time and electric at times in ODI cricket, Donald was a pioneer of South Africa's reintroduction to international cricket in the early 1990s. An ODI average of just 21.78 reveals how lethal Donald was.  

Read more on:    proteas  |  cricket


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