Some of the best players in cricket history have worn the colors of South Africa and we have had the pleasure of watching countless superstars of the game over the years. In this article we’ll look at some of the best of the best, from the modern stars to the forgotten legends of old.
Pollock deserves to be in any list of South Africa’s greatest players and you would also expect to see his name appear in a list of the all-time greatest players from around the world. He embodies everything that is great about this game and this country and he inspired many players to take up bat and ball and to begin the journey toward playing for their country.
Pollock made his debut back in 1963 against Australia and he played his last test match just 7 years later. But it’s what he accomplished in that time, and what he did on the domestic stage that will help his name to live long in the memory. He hit 7 centuries and 11 half-centuries in 23 tests, and had the sort of timing and technique that most players can only dream of.
Like Pollock, Richards hails from a golden age of South African cricket. He was formidable at bat, scoring 80 centuries in first class cricket. Many of his contemporaries say that Richards was one of the best they have ever played with and the legendary Dickie Bird included him in his Dream XI.
Despite all of this, Richards struggled to make it into the national squad for many years. He played in several unofficial test matches but he only played in 4 official test matches.
Kallis is one of the best all-rounders that South Africa has ever produced. It’s not all about the stats and you should never look too much into these when picking a list of the best, but Kallis’ stats are flawless. He was also a great joy to watch and modern SA cricket will miss his presence on the pitch.
Kallis holds the record for the most test appearances over his career, with an impressive total of 165 to his name, which occurred between the years of 1993 to 2003. He holds countless records, including the most test centuries (someway ahead of second placed Graeme Smith) and most test appearances.
Smith was one of the most feared South Africans of recent years. He made some of the best teams and players in the world shake in their boots and no one looked forward to playing against him. In 2008, Smith captained South African to their first ever victory in Australia, and in the same year he went 154-not-out against England, a performance that topped-off his illustrious career and one that is still talked about to this day.
Over a total of 77 tests, the consistent Smith managed a batting average of 50.33. He played in 166 test matches, beginning in 2002 and ending fairly recently in 2014. Smith’s legacy will live on in SA cricket and his name is also plastered all over the record books.
AB de Villiers
It’s easy to dismiss current players when compiling a list of legends, but de Villiers has everything deserving of such a status. Still plying his trade in the national team, AB played his first test back in 2004 and has been a mainstay ever since. He has recorded a total of 105 test appearances and has a batting average greater than 50. His ODI record is even better, and de Villiers has helped to instigate many of South Africa’s biggest success over the last decade.
He also broke many records and still holds a few of them. One of the most famous of these was when he became the first South African to score a double century against India back in 2008. He is third in the Total Runs table, with only Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis ahead of him.
As with de Villiers, Steyn also deserves a mention for his work at the other end. Steyn has taken over 400 wickets during his international career, and he looks set to take Pollock’s record and become one of the most successful SA bowlers of all time. His average is on par with Pollock and he has helped his country to many big wins, including memorable tests against India and Pakistan.
His batting does let him down and injury hasn’t helped him either, but he still deserves a spot on the list of all-time greats and is right up there on a list of modern greats.