England’s Jonny Bairstow bludgeoned a brilliant unbeaten 86 from 48 balls as the tourists chased down 180 to beat South Africa by five wickets with four balls to spare in the first Twenty20 International at Newlands.
Even in T20 World Cups, they have choked in crunch games – such as not scoring 125 or more chasing 150 odd against India in the 2007 T20 World Cup to secure a semi-final spot on home soil or losing to Pakistan chasing 150 in the 2009 T20 World Cup semis. Despite holding the chokers tag, South Africa has had some fantastic T20 cricketers to represent the Proteas.
1. Quinton De Kock (wicketkeeper)
T20I stats: 1226 runs, 31.43 average, 136.07 strike rate, six fifties, 29 catches, 11 stumpings
One of the finest keeper-batsmen in modern-day times, Quinton De Kock seamlessly transitioned from domestic cricket to the international arena by the end of 2013. With the bat, De Kock’s fearless attitude has reaped the rewards for South Africa, giving the Proteas fast starts.
As a gloveman, he’s been almost flawless. Only 27, the sky is the limit for the South African keeper, especially in the shorter formats.
2. Jacques Kallis
T20I stats: 666 runs, 35.05 average, 119.35 strike rate, five fifties, 12 wickets, 27.75 average, 7.23 economy
The greatest cricketer to hail from South Africa, it is practically impossible for me to leave out Kallis in any all-time South African teams. At the top of the order, Kallis gives solidity and ensures that a collapse does not ensue – something that is very common in T20 cricket.
Alongside his prowess with the bat, Kallis’ medium-pacers gave South Africa breakthroughs when needed.
3. Faf Du Plessis (captain)
T20I stats: 1407 runs, 34.32 average, 134.13 strike rate, one hundred
Because of the man that is AB De Villiers, Du Plessis’ white-ball credentials have gone under the radar. A highly underrated white-ball player, Francois Du Plessis can play shots all over the ground and doesn’t mind ramping fast bowlers in his first delivery.
The second South African to score a T20I century, Du Plessis has been a match-winner for the Proteas with the bat. With South Africa having a substantial win percentage under him, Du Plessis leads the XI.
4. AB De Villiers
T20I stats: 1672 runs, 26.12 average, 135.12 strike rate, ten fifties
No need to explain Mr 360’s inclusion.
5. JP Duminy
T20I stats: 1934 runs, 38.68 average, 126.24 strike rate, 11 fifties, 21 wickets, 28.52 average, 7.76 economy
A fine middle-order batsman, JP Duminy is the leading run-scorer among South Africans in T20 internationals. A gap-finder, Duminy would work the ball around the field and keep the scoreboard ticking before teeing off at the death. A batting all-rounder, Duminy was a decent off-spinner as shown in his numbers with the ball.
6. David Miller
T20I stats: 1409 runs, 29.35 average, 138.4 strike rate, one hundred
Who else but David Miller as one of my two designated finishers? Bowl anything to him in his hitting arc, and he’ll deposit the ball to the third tier for fun. A power-hitter, David Miller once smashed 31 runs in one over – the most by a South African batsman in T20 internationals.
7. Albie Morkel
T20I stats: 572 runs, 21.18 average, 142.28 strike rate, zero fifties, 26 wickets, 33.23 average, 8.01 economy
Another hard-hitting batsman, Albie Morkel was a severe impact player for South Africa in T20 internationals. His lower-order finishing skills would propel South Africa to higher-than-par scores and gave wickets for the Proteas with his medium-pacers.
8. Chris Morris
T20I stats: 24 wickets, 20.5 average, 8.39 economy
Bowling at a decent click and possessing a deadly yorker and bouncer, Chris Morris has had a successful T20 career for South Africa. Bowling in the tough overs, Morris has shown he is a wicket-taker in crunch moments and has delivered with the ball many a time.
9. Johan Botha
T20I stats: 37 wickets, 22.24 average, 6.38 economy
After a woeful T20I debut against Australia at the Gabba (1/43 off four overs), Johan Botha fought back hard with a string of world-class performances. Bowling his tidy off-spinners, Botha’s subtle variations kept batsmen in check and he hardly conceded boundaries.
Although he never played T20 internationals after moving to South Australia in late 2012, Botha had a successful T20 career for the Proteas and was an underrated spinner in the shortest format.
10. Dale Steyn
T20I stats: 64 wickets, 18.35 average, 6.94 economy
The finest bowler in his generation, Dale Steyn has an outstanding record in every format. Steaming in at full tilt, Steyn has been a wicket-taker for the Proteas and is their leading T20I wicket-taker despite being hit with injuries as of late.
11. Imran Tahir
T20I stats: 63 wickets, 15.04 average, 6.73 economy
One of the best leg-spinners in T20 cricket, Imran Tahir rounds up my all-time South Africa XI. With an unplayable googly and wild celebrations, Tahir is a bowler captains crave for as they know players like him will always give 100 per cent no matter what.