Greatest South African Test XI of all time
The presence of numerous all-round greats enables the formation of a dynamic unit.
Even as their standing in the limited-overs scene has often been characterized by their inability to handle big moments, South Africa are usually known to thrive under pressure in Tests. In recent times, they have established a reputation of being competitive travellers when almost every other team are known otherwise. Historically, their win-loss ratio of 1.136 is only bettered by Australia and England.
Also Read: Greatest Australian Test XI of all time
While their most productive phase spanned from the late 2000s till the early 2010s, South Africa have always been a strong unit since their readmission into international cricket in 1992. Before the Apartheid Era robbed the sport of one of its powerhouses, the Proteas produced several iconic cricketers. Here is an all time Test XI containing the very best players from their illustrious history. Due to lack of adequate sample size (for no fault of theirs), legends such as Barry Richards and Mike Procter are not factored into account.
(*Note: Statistics for all active players are accurate as of 5th February, 2018)
Armed with nothing but unmatched mental toughness, Graeme Smith set the foundation for South Africa's golden era. The tenacious left-hander scored 9265 runs from 117 Tests at an average of 48.25 with 27 centuries and 38 fifties. Thrust into the captaincy throne at the age of 22, Smith's unrelenting determination rubbed off on his team mates and earned him enormous respect from the cricketing fraternity.
With plenty of world-class fast bowlers operating at the height of their powers, the 1990s was a particularly difficult era for opening batsmen. Gary Kirsten was one of the few openers who managed to emerge from the decade with his credentials enhanced. The remorseless accumulator of runs blunted the new ball in his own unassuming manner. 7289 runs from 101 Tests at an average of 45.27 with 21 tons and 34 fifties stand as testament to his pure grit.