Playing Test cricket for one’s country and playing it for a considerable amount of time are two different things. Many players have represented their respective nations in the longest and the most demanding format. However,
only a few of them have done it for a substantial period. Those who have done so are regarded as the legends of the game. Here, in this article, we look at some of the longest-serving South African cricketers in Test cricket and their records in the most demanding format.
1. Jacques Kallis (166 MATCHES)
Jacques Kallis, South Africa's longest-serving Test cricketer, is undoubtedly one of the best all-rounders of all time. Kallis was a multi-utility player who had a sound technique as a batter and a knack for picking up wickets as a bowler. He made his Test debut against England in Durban in 1995, and last played against India in 2013. Kallis scored 13174 runs at an incredible average of 55.37 in 166Test matches, the most by any South African. With his medium-pace bowling, he also took 292 wickets.
2. Mark Boucher(146 MATCHES)
Mark Boucher, one of South Africa's all-time great wicketkeepers, is next. He is the first wicketkeeper in cricket history to have taken 500 catches in Test matches and also has the most dismissals (532) in Test cricket. In 1997, he made his Test debut against Pakistan and continued to play until 2012 when a bail hit in his eye forced him to retire. However, by 2012, Boucher had played146 Test matches for South Africa, scoring 5498 runs at an average of 30.54.
3. Hashim Amla (124 MATCHES)
Hashim Amla, one of the most successful opening batters for South Africa, is third on the list. This stylish, elegant, right-handed, top-order batter played for South Africa in Test cricket for 16 years (2004-2019) and represented them in124 matches. Amal was a sweet timer of the cricket ball and a batter with a great hunger for runs. With 9282 runs at an average of 46.64, he became the second highest run scorer for South Africa in Test cricket.
4. Graeme Smith(117 MATCHES)
Graeme Smith, a dashing left-handed top-order batter and former South African captain, is next on the list. Smith is regarded as a revolutionary who led South African cricket to great heights. From 2002 to 2014, he appeared in 117 Test matches for South Africa, captaining the team in 109 of them, the most for any captain in Test cricket history. He scored 9265 runs in 117 matches at an average of 48.25, including 27 hundred.
5. Ab de Villiers(114 MATCHES)
It would be incorrect to talk about South African cricket and not mention Abraham Benjamin de Villiers, Mr.360 degree. He is undoubtedly one of the best all-format batters of South Africa. His Test career spanned from 2004 to2018, during which he played 114 matches and scored 8765 runs at an average of 50.66. Due to his attacking approach and high strike rate, he was a favorite amongst the spectators and a pure entertainer.
6. Shaun Pollock (108 MATCHES)
Shaun Pollock has been regarded as one of the all-time greats of South African cricket. In 1995, he made his Test match debut and played his last match in2008. He got to his name 421 wickets in 108 Test matches at an average of 23.11 and had the best bowling figures of 7 for 87 in an innings. Besides this, he scored more than 3700 Test runs, with two hundred and a best of 111.
7. Gary Kirsten (101 MATCHES)
Another top-order batter which makes it onto the list is Gary Kirsten. With his great focus and temperament, Gary Kirsten became a vital member of the South African team during the late 90s and early 2000s. The South African top-order was unimaginable without him. He represented the Test team from 1993to 2004 and scored 7289 runs in 101 matches at an average of 45.72. He also had 21 Test centuries, the fifth most for a South African player.
8. Makhaya Ntini (101 MATCHES)
Makhaya Ntini is one of the few fast bowlers to feature on the list. He started playing Test cricket in 1998 and played until 2009. In 101 matches, he has picked up 390 wickets at an average of 28.82 and an economy of 3.23. He wasa lively and energetic character on the field who always used to grab everyone’s attention. However, it was his never-say-die attitude and unwavering commitment on the field that earned him all of the success and rewards.
9. Dale Steyn (93 MATCHES)
This list would be incomplete without mentioning Dale Steyn. Steyn had everything you needed in a fast bowler—pace, swing, aggression, smooth run-up and action, line, length, accuracy, and more. In 2004, he made his Test match debut against England and played his last match in 2019 against Sri Lanka. In the 93 Tests he played, he took 439 wickets at an average of 22.95 and an economy of 3.24.
10. Herschelle Gibbs (90 MATCHES)
Herschelle Gibbs, the fiery and aggressive opener from Cape Town, is the next to feature on the list. Gibbs made his Test match debut in 1996 against India and ended his Test career in 2008 after playing his last match against the West Indies. During his 13 year Test career, he played 90 matches and scored 6167runs at an average of 41.95. He was also a great fielder and one of the best in the world, if not the best.