By Soham Sarkhel and Jatin Thakkar
1st Test match | 2nd Test match | 3rd Test match
In a Test series that was touted to be the ultimate showdown for the numero uno position in the Test rankings, the South Africans thoroughly outplayed and outperformed the English team to wrest away the ICC mace and to thump them to their worst-ever home defeat in the last 11 years. Here, are the highest impact players from the absorbing England-South Africa Test series that just concluded.
(3.43) emerges as the highest impact player although the man of the series award for South Africa was given to Hashim Amla (2.90) who follows Steyn as the second-highest impact performer of the series. Dale Steyn stamped his authority as one of the best fast bowlers in the world with his consistent bowling displays throughout the series which were not necessarily breath-taking in a Steyn-esque manner but were effective nonetheless as his impact numbers suggest.
His bowling display of 5-56 in the second innings of the first Test was his highest impact performance of the series and also helped South Africa complete the rout which their batsmen had setup earlier. Other than that Steyn was highly consistent throughout the series and had a failure rate of only 33% (best amongst all the bowlers in the series) and it is also because of the very same reason that he edges past Philander on the bowling impact charts even though Philander has a superior bowling average than Steyn when it comes to conventional statistics.
Hashim Amla (2.90) emerges as the highest impact batsman of the series and unsurprisingly so considering he played a key role in turning the match firmly in South Africa's way in both the 1st and the 3rd Test match. The first Test match at Kensington Oval was the watershed moment clearly when Hashim Amla alongwith Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis took South Africa to a match-winning total of 637 runs after South Africa at one point of time were 2-1(England had made 385 initially). His triple-century effort in the same innings is not only the highest Batting IMPACT performance but also the highest impact (overall) performance of the series.
For England, the highest impact performer of the series was their wicket-keeper Matt Prior (2.90) and was rightly given the English man of the series award. Prior, scored three half-centuries in the Test series and it is mainly due to his knock of 73 in the second innings at Lord's in the third Test match that England after having fallen to 146-6 managed to get so close to pulling off the chase. Another important characteristic of Prior's display in this series was his ability to deliver under pressure on a regular basis and it is for the very same reason that he also has the 2nd-highest Pressure IMPACT in the series.
The fallout between Kevin Pietersen (2.80) and ECB in the middle of the Test series was rather unfortunate and may even have had a bearing on the eventual result of the series considering the fact that he was England's 2nd-highest impact performer of the series. Replying to South Africa's 419 in the first innings, Pietersen clobbered the likes of Steyn and Morkel to score a magnificent 149 off 214 balls to wrest the first innings lead for England in the second Test match at Leeds.
Interestingly, Pietersen with his bowling displays of 1-26 and 3-52 in the 2nd Test match (in absence of Swann) was the only player from England to register an all-round impact (Both Batting and Bowling IMPACT over 1) in the series. His dismissals included the likes of Graeme Smith, Jacques Rudolph (twice) and Hashim Amla and can be considered as a pointer to Andrew Strauss for not utilising him effectively as a part-timer especially bearing in mind the fact that Pietersen started-off his first class career as an off-spinner.
Jacques Kallis (2.60) also came very close to registering an all-round impact (Bowling IMPACT 0.88). Kallis' unbeaten knock of 182 in the first Test match was his highest impact batting performance of the series although his relative struggle in the rest of the series with the bat doesn't give him a particularly high Batting IMPACT.
Vernon Philander (2.72), who didn't particularly impress with his bowling in the first two matches of the series came back strongly in the third with a fine all-round effort (Both Batting and Bowling IMPACT over 1). His knock of 61 in the first innings parried South Africa to a relatively safe position of 309 after they were stumbling at one point of time at 163-6. Philander followed up his batting display with a 2-48 in the first innings before sealing the series in favour of the South Africans with figures of 5-30 in the second innings which incidentally, was also the second-highest bowling impact performance of the series.
Steven Finn (2.60) was the highest-impact bowler for England and capped off a successful series on a personal note. His wicket-taking ability came to the fore in this series and was one of the only English bowlers to put the South African batsmen under consistent pressure as a result of which he also has the highest Pressure Building IMPACT in the series.
Graeme Smith (2.88) is no doubt one of the modern greats of the game although his name is not widely held in that regard. Smith showed his pedigree not only as a batsman but also as a captain in the series to emerge as the third-highest impact player for South Africa. It is also interesting to note that his Batting IMPACT (2.27) is way above his partner Alviro Petersen's 1.39 although according to conventional stats Petersen had a higher average than Smith's and had scored only 28 runs lesser than him. This difference in the impact numbers is primarily because of the fact that although Petersen scored 182 runs in the first innings of the second Test, he failed as a batsman in the rest of the innings whereas Graeme Smith continued to give steady, consistent performances at the top for his team-a good example of how Impact Index works.
A special note of mention should also go to young Jonny Bairstow (5.00) who doesn't feature on this list as he played only one Test match but still managed to give an exceptional performance at the third Test match at Lord's. His knocks of 95 and 54 in the first and the second innings respectively came under considerable pressure (highest Pressure IMPACT in the match) and suggests the arrival of perhaps a major player.
Some of the under-performers for England in this series were their most important players and perhaps gives an indication as to why England lost out on all the crucial moments in the game. Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Tim Bresnan, Ian Bell, Graeme Swann and James Anderson were guilty of under-performing especially considering the type of performances one has come to expect from them in the English conditions and their failure was a major reason for England's debacle.
Overall, South Africa's Team IMPACT of 1.99 vis-à-vis England's 1.54, points out to the difference in the level of the performances and also ascertains South Africa's dominance over them in their successful bid to take over the No.1 Test team ranking.
For more information, please go to www.impactindexcricket.com