In my opinion, this is South Africa’s best 5-day test XI since readmission. Please note that I did not consider persons with less than 40 test matches. The balance of the side is: 5 specialist batters, 1 all-rounder, keeper, 4 bowlers (3 pace & 1 spinner).
Smith is the obvious choice as captain – loved and hated by many, but his record speaks for itself. Paul Adams is our most successful spinner to date. Herschelle Gibbs contested closely for Cullinan’s place at 5, but Cullinan boasts a higher average in fewer tests, and equals Hersh on hundreds. Also, Gibbs played most of his career as an opener and both Smith and Kirsten outclassed him in that position. When it comes to specialist keepers, few can argue with Boucher’s selection – (AB not considered – he’s hardly played as keeper in the greater scheme of things). Ntini would be on the short list, but I think we have the seam attack pretty spot on!
M Ntini 101 tests – 390 wickets: ave of 28 runs per wicket, strike rate of 53 balls per wicket.
H Gibbs 90 tests – ave of 42 and 14 hundreds.