Proteas attack amongst Test cricket’s best ever

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    Dale Steyn has to be in the conversation for the greatest quick that's ever been. (Image: AAP/Dave Hunt)

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    Pakistan’s humiliation of being bowled out for 49 in South Africa this week is a pain that many countries around the world know all too well.

    Less than 18-months ago Australia was routed in South Africa for 47, while the Proteas win in the third test in Perth this summer can be put down to their second innings bowling efforts.

    Their current pace lineup of Steyn, Morkel, Philander and Kallis is surely the most feared in the world, with perhaps only England having similar talent and depth.

    The most impressive aspect of South Africa’s attack is the way they bowl as a unit.

    Dale Steyn is the leader: aggressive, fast and accurate and superbly complemented by the height and bounce of Morne Morkel, and the swing of Vernon Philander and Jacques Kallis.

    In the first two tests this summer, Steyn seemed slightly off his game, and Morkel was able to step up.

    Bowling a tight line and length, he took the reins as Graeme Smith’s go to man until Steyn found his mojo. And find it he did with a brilliant game in the third and deciding test.

    Michael Clarke in the form of his life could do nothing as Steyn was unplayable, proving why he is the worlds greatest quick.

    Pakistan have been embarrassed by South Africa’s pace quartet, an attack that has been described by Allan Donald, perhaps the greatest paceman the Proteas have produced, as the best their country has seen.

    The West Indies attack of Holding, Marshall, Croft, Garner, Walsh, Ambrose and co. of the 1980s – early 90s is incomparable.

    But South Africa’s current line-up is up there with other modern day great partnerships – McGrath, Gillespie, Lee; Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis; Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock.

    South Africa as a team are superb to watch. Smith is an astute and ultra-competitive leader, Hasham Amla’s has a near flawless batting technique, their middle order of De Villiers, du Plessis and Duminy is quality in all forms of the game.

    The Proteas pace bowling unit ensures they are never out of a contest. The only part of the line-up yet to be fully established is that of a world-class spinner, with Imran Tahir completely dominated in Australia.

    The fact the Proteas could not be swayed to play in Australian crickets showpiece event the Boxing Day Test is a great shame, while a one-day and T20 series between the two nations surely to have received bigger crowds than the Sri Lankan and West Indians encounters have delivered.

    South Africa have their own summer of cricket to grow, so their reasons for wishing to play a home series against New Zealand is understandable.

    The three Test matches played here however left the Australian cricket public wanting more, and the rest of the summer has not really lived up to the same standards.

    The next time the two countries meet could be the June Champions Trophy, however the next red ball cricket will most likely be an Australian tour to the Republic.

    Hopefully Australia’s side is more settled by then, and we are talking about Cummins, Pattinson, Siddle and Starc in the same vein as Steyn, Morkel, Philander and Kallis.

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    The Crowd Says (55)

    • February 4th 2013 @ 9:21am
      Johnno said | February 4th 2013 @ 9:21am | ! Report

      Now Now settle down.

      -They have had success against an average Aussy team, and Pakistan just returning to test cricket.

      -Dale Steyn is world class and would make any team in any era of test cricket,. Morne Morkel would not have played much test cricket in the 70’s 80′ and mid 90’s west indies teams, same with Phillander. Good bowlers, as was Ninti , but they are not Holding or Marshall class, only Dale Steyn would be.
      Kallis is no strike bowler, and the west indies or aussy attack’s would not need him. Noether would the England 2005 ASHES team.
      And no spinner either.

      • February 4th 2013 @ 11:29am
        matt h said | February 4th 2013 @ 11:29am | ! Report

        Johnno, don’t forget they also completely owned the then number 1 team, England in England last year.

        Steyn is an all time great.
        Philander’s figures don’ lie, he is just not as intimidating as Steyn – more a McGrath “make a mistke and I’ll have you” kind of bowler.
        Morkel would be a great third seamer for any team in the world.
        And Kallis is Kallis

      • February 4th 2013 @ 12:39pm
        Shaun said | February 4th 2013 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

        Anybody I mean anybody who picks up almost 300 test wickets is a quality bowler… that’s not even taking into account the pressure and responsibility Kallis has had to absorb as THE senior and #1 batsman in the team.

        • February 4th 2013 @ 2:02pm
          clipper said | February 4th 2013 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

          It was a big loss to SA when he couldn’t continue bowling in the second test as he was on a roll and although not a strike bowler, he’s very handy, but obviously with the attack they have at the moment, isn’t needed as much.

      • February 4th 2013 @ 3:15pm
        Jimmy said | February 4th 2013 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

        Kallis is no strike bowler? He strikes often enough and especially when it counts – to break partnerships. Soon he will have 300 wickets at a strike rate 50% better than Sobers ever achieved. And don’t bring up Sobers was a spinner as well – his spin bowling was even more unproductive than his military medium pace. He was a very average test bowler.
        I do agree though on your point that SA lacks a spinner. Great pace attack but cannot be called one of the all time great bowlng attacks without a quality spinner

      • February 5th 2013 @ 12:13am
        Ben said | February 5th 2013 @ 12:13am | ! Report

        I personally don’t think this South African Side is up where the Windies where in the 80”s early Ninties and the Australian Team from early to Mid Nighties to 2005/6. South Africa has a very good bowling squad, best in the world at the moment and thats about it. World Cricket is weak at the Moment, and the Current Aussie side is ranked 2nd/3rd and the South Africans couldn’t put them away.

        Australia’s biggest enemy are the Selectors. Once we get the Selectors soughted out. You might be regretting in fact, a little embarressed writing this article.

      • February 5th 2013 @ 6:20pm
        Dadiggle said | February 5th 2013 @ 6:20pm | ! Report

        Give credit where credit is due Johnno

        South Africa have now dismissed their opponents without even allowing them the token applause for reaching 50 on three occasions in their past 17 Tests and 32 innings.

        That is the same number of times as the entire planet managed to bowl out an opposition for under 49 in the 1560 Test matches played, and 5659 innings bowled,

        • Roar Guru

          February 5th 2013 @ 6:32pm
          biltongbek said | February 5th 2013 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

          didn’t know that, but it sounds rather impressive.

    • February 4th 2013 @ 9:27am
      Jason said | February 4th 2013 @ 9:27am | ! Report

      How good is Michael Clarke then scoring back to back doubles against them.

      • February 4th 2013 @ 11:30am
        matt h said | February 4th 2013 @ 11:30am | ! Report

        Very very good

      • February 4th 2013 @ 11:40am
        Red Kev said | February 4th 2013 @ 11:40am | ! Report

        You have to contrast that to the bowling performance – SA lost Philander for one test, they lost Kallis’ bowling for two tests, and Steyn was sadly lacking in form until Perth – SA clearly did not play as well as they could in Australia (the mark of a great team is playing poorly and still winning). They were below par in Australia but are clearly back to their best on home soil.
        As an interesting aside, Steyn’s lack of form in the first two tests was put down to not enough bowling. Many commentators on both the radio and television remarked on the fact he needed to get some overs into him to get his rhythm back. I wonder what the CA rotation muppets have to say about that.

      • February 4th 2013 @ 12:45pm
        Shaun said | February 4th 2013 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

        Clarke is damn good…no taking that away.

        That being said Australian public & even media were quick to forget the that SA played the first test with 10 men & duminy being their spin option meant that they had to rely on 4 seamers which eventually tires a bowling unit out.
        2nd test they played with Philander and then Kallis got injured after picking up 2 wickets and limited the bowling attack…& the Aussies took Tahir to the cleaners.

        • February 4th 2013 @ 12:54pm
          Johnno said | February 4th 2013 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

          Robin Peterson is Hardly Shane Warne, or Stuart Mcgill, or Herath from Sri Lanka

          • February 4th 2013 @ 3:19pm
            Jimmy said | February 4th 2013 @ 3:19pm | ! Report

            Agree. A less than test class bowler.

        • February 4th 2013 @ 2:10pm
          jameswm said | February 4th 2013 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

          Didn’t we play Adelaide with 10 men? That was what determined the series, 5th day innocuous bowling from Lyon and good old fashioned bloody mindedness from Faf.

          • February 4th 2013 @ 2:31pm
            Red Kev said | February 4th 2013 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

            The only reason Australia was in a position to complain about losing Hilfenhaus ‘costing’ us the match was because South Africa had already lost Kallis as a bowler.

          • February 4th 2013 @ 3:42pm
            bilo said | February 4th 2013 @ 3:42pm | ! Report

            How could Australia have possibly lost the Adelaide Test?
            – Philander pulled out on the morning of the game
            – Replaced by Kleinveldt who Australia hammered in Brisbane two weeks prior
            – Kallis injured after two early first innings wickets (the ball to Ponting was one of the best of the summer!)
            – Tahir conceded the worst bowling figures ever without taking a wicket
            – Australia won the toss, batted and made 480 in a day!!!!!!
            – Normally Australia NEVER loses when making 500+ in the first dig
            – Australia had a first innings lead of about 160. How often have we failed to win after that sort of lead? (discounting rain interruptions of course)

            The only real negative Australia had was losing Pattinson with injury.

            • Roar Guru

              February 4th 2013 @ 5:14pm
              JGK said | February 4th 2013 @ 5:14pm | ! Report

              Australia didn’t lose the Adelaide test.

              • February 5th 2013 @ 11:51am
                bilo said | February 5th 2013 @ 11:51am | ! Report

                You’re right JGK, we didn’t lose that test. I was trying to say we would normally “win” comfortably a match with those first day results.

                Mark Nicholas wrote in Cricinfo after the series loss, “Australia lost the Perth Test in Adelaide”. I think that was about right. Not that I’m a fan of Mark Nicholas.

              • Roar Guru

                February 5th 2013 @ 12:00pm
                JGK said | February 5th 2013 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

                Yes they did because Pattinson breaking down meant that Siddle and Hilf were overworked in Adelaide and therefore rested for Perth.

      • February 4th 2013 @ 3:18pm
        Jimmy said | February 4th 2013 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

        Clarke was outstanding and will become an all time great. I was wrong about him but he has matured quickly and soon will be a full time adult. I rate him highly on leadership potential and he is plainly developing into a fine Captain.

    • February 4th 2013 @ 2:44pm
      Johnno said | February 4th 2013 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

      We lost James Pattison our no 1 strike bowler 4 the fourth innings in Adeliade. How i am not sure if phillander played in the 2nd test. He made a big dfiference in the 4th. But Kallis was bowling well got ponting, was a big loss when the aussies were in trouble.

      I still rate James Pattison a better bowler than Morkel. and about the same as Phillander. James Pattison is a damn good bowler, as good as DIzzy Gillespie and Brett Lee at test level.

      This South African i don’t rate as highly as the great west indies, or England 2005, or Australia 1995-2007.

      For mine England’s 2010 attack is better too for the ASHES.

      -Big 6’8 Chris Tremlett the leader of the attack
      -James Anderson
      -Stuart Broad
      Tim Bresnan
      -Gramme Swan

      -Grahame Swan being the pivotal point of difference.
      Grahame swan is a magnificent spin bowler, England’s best in 50 years.
      Swan didn’t take many wicket’s in the 2010 ASHES series but , played a critical role. He is a magnificient defensive spinner.
      Applied the pressure at one end, while others took the wickets, and Swan is a genuine wicket taker too when needed, and if the pitch is right, and Swan can bowl well in any conditions.

      -paul Collingwodd and Kevin peterson bowled handy spells too.

      -Dale Steyn is not needed in this attack. As you have Anderson for swing bowling , and Tremlett bowls a betetr line and length than Morkel on a more consistnet basis, and gets just as much bounce. Stuart Broad of course, and Tim brsenan is underrated.

      And Grahame Onions who i rate highly was injured for the ASHES and would of been in contention for a spot.

      So I rate England’s 2010 team bowling line up higher than the proteas. No spinner for the proteas.

      • February 4th 2013 @ 3:23pm
        Jimmy said | February 4th 2013 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

        You do realise that Steyn as twenty 5 fors? More quickly than other fast bowler before him. Give away your bias and be thankful we have the privilege to be watching one of the all time great strike bowlers in his prime.

        • February 4th 2013 @ 5:37pm
          Johnno said | February 4th 2013 @ 5:37pm | ! Report

          Steyn is brilliant, I rate him highly one of the best ever fast bowlers in the last 40 years, but not the rest of the attack. they are good but no world’s greatest ever bowlers.

        • February 5th 2013 @ 6:11am
          jimmy said | February 5th 2013 @ 6:11am | ! Report

          Oops! Now twenty one 5 fors. And another 10 wicket match.He can bowl a bit.

    • February 4th 2013 @ 3:19pm
      Pope Paul VII said | February 4th 2013 @ 3:19pm | ! Report

      Nah they are rubbish until they bowl England out for 41 or 43 to add to their 45 (NZ) 47(Aus) 49 (Pak).

      Pakistan only need another 300 as well.

      I think Australia were a bit fortunate that Steyn and Philander didn’t turn up until the third test.

      I reckon based on opposition quality, the best attack of modern times was England 2005 , Jones, Flintoff, Harmison, Hoggard ( and you too King of Spain Ashley Giles I suppose ) who took down the excellent Aussies.

      • February 4th 2013 @ 3:29pm
        Johnno said | February 4th 2013 @ 3:29pm | ! Report

        I rate the England 2010 attack higher for reasons given above. Anderson is better, than Flintoff,Hoggard,Harmison,as is Tremlett, and Swan is much better than Panesar or Giles. Panesar didn’t even play in 2005. Simon Jones is brilliant though.

        • February 4th 2013 @ 3:43pm
          Johnno said | February 4th 2013 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

          Plus Stuart Broad is better than Hoggard and Harmison.

          • February 4th 2013 @ 4:13pm
            Pope Paul VII said | February 4th 2013 @ 4:13pm | ! Report

            Hoggy has the better average of the 3, marginally. In that series he often took the first wicket expensively while Hayden and Langer unconvincingly tried to blast their way clear. It generally opened the gates to the middle order. By the end of the series they were treating Hoggard with the respect he deserved.

      • February 4th 2013 @ 3:32pm
        Rhys said | February 4th 2013 @ 3:32pm | ! Report

        The best bowling attack of the modern era would have to be Warne, McGrath, Gillespie & Lee. The quartet occupy 4 of the top 6 all time wicket takers for Australia, with no fewer than 1840 Test wickets between them.

    • February 4th 2013 @ 3:38pm
      Jonny Boy Jnr said | February 4th 2013 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

      Give me the old:

      8. Warne
      9. Gillespie
      10. Fleming/Lee
      11. McGrath

      Any day !!

      Note: Dale Steyn seriously is a superstar of any era

    • February 4th 2013 @ 4:22pm
      Pope Paul VII said | February 4th 2013 @ 4:22pm | ! Report

      McGrath, Gillespie, Lee, Warne. Exceptional. What was their greatest triumph? Were they all in India when Australia won for the first time in a brazilian years?

      They made nearly everyone look silly but I can’t recall the best team they bowled to?

      • February 4th 2013 @ 9:01pm
        Roy said | February 4th 2013 @ 9:01pm | ! Report

        I think you’ll find Kasper was the third quick in the series we won in India, not Brett Lee.

        • February 4th 2013 @ 10:45pm
          pope paul v11 said | February 4th 2013 @ 10:45pm | ! Report

          thanks Roy

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