All About the South Africa Cricket Team

The South African cricket team, nicknamed the Proteas after their national flower, is governed by Cricket South Africa. They have been an ICC Full Member since the 15th June 1909 as they were one of the three founding members.

On this page you will find out about the history of cricket in South Africa, the colours associated with their team, who their best players are, how they have performed at ICC tournaments and against other teams, as well as how they are currently playing on the world stage.

The History of South African Cricket

south african cricket team

Europeans began to colonise South Africa in 1652 when the Cape Colony was created by the Dutch East India Company. The British didn't show any interest in Africa until they seized the Cape Colony in 1775 during the French Revolution. In 1806, the British seized Cape Colony for a second time and turned it into a British settlement. Like they did in many other places around the world, British colonizers brought cricket with them and the game became one of interest for the locals. The first recorded cricket game in South Africa was played in 1808. Port Elizabeth Cricket Club is the oldest club in the country, having been founded back in 1843. By the end of the 1840s, cricket had spread out into Transvaal and the Orange Free State. In 1876, the "Champion Bat" tournament was made and included South African towns. The first edition was held in Port Elizabeth and was won by King William's Town. They also won the following edition in 1877.

In 1889, South Africa played their very first test match, making them the third team to do so. However, the two test matches that they played against England that year were not given official test match status until they formed the ICC with Australia and England in 1906. A weak South African side lost easily to the English, with England spinner Johnny Briggs picking up 15 wickets for just 28 runs in the second test. It wasn't bad for all of South Africa's players as Albert Rose-Innes became the first South African to pick up a five-wicket haul. South Africa lost ten and drew one of their first eleven tests, which is the worst record out of all the test-playing countries. Their first win was against England in 1906 and they went on to win the series 4-1. Their team grew in stature thanks to quality players such as Jimmy Sinclair, Bonnor Middleton, Dave Nourse, Charlie Llewellyn, Aubrey Faulkner, Percy Sherwell, Bert Vogler, and Tip Snooke. These were players who were able to give any team a run for their money. England toured South Africa again in 1909 and lost a five-match series 3-2.

South Africa then toured Australia for the very first time the following year. They were playing against one of the best Australian teams of all time, and this showed when they lost the series 4-1. However, that one victory was their first test match win overseas and was also the first time they beat Australia. In 1912, they played a triangular tournament against England and Australia, the two other test nations at the time. By this time, many of their best players had retired or were out of form, so the South Africa team were nowhere close to their best. They finished at the bottom of the group, but the emergence of Herbie Taylor was a plus point. He would go on to become one of the best batsmen of the era. Taylor was made captain in 1913 and they once again played against a touring England side. They lost 4-0 to a very strong England team, but South Africa were a team going through a transition period, so this result was expected. Once again, Taylor showed what a class player he was by scoring 508 runs against a very good England bowling attack. Then the war broke out and international cricket was suspended until the end of 1918.

Australia became the first team to officially tour South Africa when they visited in 1921. The first two matches were drawn, but the Aussies clinched the series by winning the third test. The following year, England toured once again, and, just like when they last met, Taylor put the England bowlers to the sword and scored more than 500 runs again. However, he could not prevent his team from losing the series 2-1. The 1920s was quite a barren period for South African cricket, but this changed in the 30s thanks to the emergence of quality players such as Alan Melville, Dudly Nourse, Pieter van der Bijl, and Ken Viljoen. Cricket was once again put on hold when the Second World War broke out and it was 1947 when the South African team next toured England. From here, they continued to play regularly against Australia, England, and New Zealand.

It must be mentioned that due to the strict Apartheid laws that were introduced in 1948, no non-white person was allowed to play cricket for South Africa. The ICC decided to ban South Africa from all international cricket in 1970. This meant that some of their best players, such as Robin Smith and Allan Lamb moved to England to play for them. They were in the international wilderness for just over two decades as they were reinstated as a test nation back in 1991.

They played their first match back (and their first ODI) against India in November 1991. Their first test match after re-admission was against the West Indies in April the following year. Since 1991, they have gone on to achieve mixed success in international cricket. However, they have got a bit of a reputation as chokers as they have reached the semi-finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup four times and have lost each time! They became the number one test side in the world in 2012 when they beat England 2-0. This meant that they became the first team to top the ICC cricket ranking in the three different formats.

"At this moment in time, they have a solid team that, on their day, can mix it with the best. Their head coach is Enoch Nkwe, while Faf du Plessis is their captain in tests and ODIS, and Quinton de Kock is their T20 captain."

What Colours Does the South Africa Cricket Team Play In?

Test Cricket

The South African cricket whites that they wear for test cricket has the king protea badge and the country's unmistakable flag on the left side of the shirt. The sponsor's name and logo can be found on the right. When they are in the field, they are allowed to wear a white sunhat or a green cap. Both hats have the Cricket South Africa logo on them. When they are batting, they use green helmets which also have the Cricket South Africa logo on them.

ODI and T20 Cricket

When they are taking part in limited overs cricket, the king protea badge and the country's flag is on the left of the t-shirt, while their sponsor's logo can be found on the right. In 50-over cricket, the shirt is light green with dark green sleeves, while in 20-over cricket, the shirt is yellow with green at the end of the sleeves. The trousers in both formats are green. When they are fielding, they will wear a green cap or sunhat with the Cricket South Africa logo.

Who Are Their Current Best Cricket Players?

South Africa have managed to produce some outstanding cricketers over the years such as Hashim Amla and Ab de Villiers. We will now take a look at three great players who are currently playing for them.

Faf du Plessis

He made his ODI debut for South Africa in 2011, at the age of 26, and since then he has gone on to become an important player for the national side in all formats of the game. In his very first test match in 2012, he scored a century, making him just the fourth South African player to score a debut century. In the 60 test matches that he has played, he has scored 3,745 runs (9 centuries and 21 half-centuries) at an average of 44.55. In the 143 ODI matches that he has taken part in, he has scored 5,507 runs (12 centuries and 35 half-centuries) at an average of 47.47. He has played in 44 T20 matches and has scored 1,363 runs (highest score of 119) at an average of 35.86.

Dale Steyn

He made his debut for South Africa in 2004 and he has gone on to become one of the best fast bowlers to grace the game of cricket. Between the years 2008 and 2014, he was at the top of the ICC Test Bowler rankings for a very impressive 263 weeks. No other bowler has been at the top for so long. He has recently retired from test cricket, but he still plays the other two formats. In the 93 test matches that he played, the right-arm fast bowler took 439 wickets at an amazing average of 22.95. This included 26 5-wicket hauls and 5 10-wicket hauls. He has played 125 ODI matches and has taken 196 wickets at an average of 25.95 (3 5-wicket hauls). In the 44 T20 matches that he has played, he has taken 61 wickets at an average of 17.50. These stats just go to prove that he is one of the best bowlers the world of cricket has ever seen.

Kagiso Rabada

He made his debut for South Africa in 2014 at the tender age of 19, and he has gone on to establish himself in all three formats of the game. In 2016, he was the first player to win six different awards at Cricket South Africa's annual dinner, including Test Cricketer of the Year, Cricketer of the Year, and ODI Cricketer of the Year. In the 39 test matches that he has played, he has picked up 180 wickets at an average of 22.40. This has included 9 5-wicket hauls and 4 10-wicket hauls. In the 75 ODI matches that he has played, he has taken 117 scalps at an average of 27.34 (1 5-wicket haul). In the 21 T20 matches that he has been a part of, he has dismissed 28 batsmen at an average of 23.14. He is clearly a cricketer that will be playing for the South African national team for a very long time.

What is Their Record at World Competitions?

If you want to know how the Proteas have performed at various ICC world competitions, then take a look at the tables below.

ICC Cricket World Cup

Year Round Position
1992 Semi-final 4/9
1996 Quarter-finals 5/12
1999 Semi-final 3/12
2003 Group Stage 7/14
2007 Semi-final 4/16
2011 Quarter-finals 5/14
2015 Semi-final 4/14
2019 Group Stage 7/10

*They were not allowed to play in the World Cups that took place before 1992 due to Apartheid.

ICC T20 World Cup

Year Round Position
2007 Super 8 5/12
2009 Super 8 3/12
2010 Super 8 7/12
2012 Super 8 8/16
2014 Semi-final 4/16
2016 Super 10 5/16

ICC Champions Trophy

Year Round Position
1998 Champions 1/9
2000 Semi-final 3/11
2002 Semi-final 3/12
2004 Group Stages 6/12
2006 Semi-final 3/10
2009 Group Stages 7/8
2013 Semi-final 4/8
2017 Group Stages 5/8

*This tournament was scrapped after the 2017 version as the ICC were not happy with having more than one major tournament for each format of the game.

How Have Cricket South Africa Performed Against Other Nations?

Test Performances

Opponents Matches Played Won >Lost Drawn Tied Win %
Australia 98 26 52 20 0 26.53
Bangladesh 12 10 0 2 0 83.33
England 149 33 61 55 0 22.14
India 36 15 11 10 0 30.55
New Zealand 45 25 4 16 0 55.55
Pakistan 26 15 4 7 0 57.69
Sri Lanka 29 14 9 6 0 48.27
West Indies 28 18 3 7 0 64.28
Zimbabwe 9 8 0 1 0 88.88

ODI Performances

Opponents Matches Played Won Lost Tied No Result Win %
Afghanistan 1 1 0 0 0 100
Australia 100 48 48 3 1 50.00
Bangladesh 21 17 4 0 0 80.95
England 60 29 27 1 3 51.75
India 84 46 35 0 3 56.79
Ireland 5 5 0 0 0 100
New Zealand 71 41 25 0 5 62.12
Pakistan 79 50 28 0 1 64.10
Sri Lanka 77 44 31 1 1 58.55
West Indies 62 44 15 1 2 74.16
Zimbabwe 41 38 2 0 1 95.00

T20 Performances

Opponents Matches Played Won Lost Tied No Result Win %
Afghanistan 2 2 0 0 0 100
Australia 18 7 11 0 0 38.88
Bangladesh 6 6 0 0 0 100
England 15 8 6 0 1 57.14
India 13 5 8 0 0 38.46
New Zealand 15 11 4 0 0 73.33
Pakistan 14 8 6 0 0 57.14
Sri Lanka 13 7 5 1 1 57.69
West Indies 10 6 4 0 0 60.00
Zimbabwe 5 5 0 0 0 100

How Have the South African Cricket Team Been Playing Lately?

After the 2019 World Cup, South Africa travelled to India to take part in three T20 and three test matches in the ICC World Test Championship. The first T20 match was abandoned without a ball being bowled, while India won the second by 7 wickets and South Africa won the third by 9 wickets. Regarding the test matches, they lost the first two comfortably by 203 runs and an innings and 137 runs. They are still currently playing the final test, but it looks like they will lose that heavily too. India scored 497/9d in their first innings and South Africa were bowled out for 166 in their first innings and were forced to follow-on. They are currently 88/6 in their second innings, still trailing by 246 runs. After this series, they have a rest until the end of December when they will welcome England for four test matches, three ODIs, and three T20 matches.