3 Team Cricket: Who would be South Africa's best Last Man Standing?

AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers
Lee Warren/Gallo Images

  • Last month's Solidarity Cup delivered on the big-hitting action expected from the new 3 Team Cricket format. 
  • But the bowlers' struggles meant there was one rule that didn't come into play much: the Last Man Standing dynamic.
  • Everything batting-wise would be left on that batters' shoulders once the wickets fell. Which players could do it best?

Last month's Solidarity Cup, which introduced the world to 3 Team Cricket (3TC), delivered much when it came to the big-hitting powers of some of the leading cricketers in the country.

Yet, the struggles of the bowlers didn't only mean there was an imbalance between bat and ball, it also meant that the Last Man Standing (LMS) rule of the format wasn't given much traction.

However, if 3TC does take off in future and the bowlers start becoming more savvy, it's quite conceivable that we'll see far more batsmen left stranded with merely a running partner between the wickets and all the rest of the run-scoring responsibility resting on his shoulders.

But who would be the best candidates to fulfil such a role?

Two of Sport24's writers weigh in.

LYNN BUTLER'S PICKS

AB de Villiers 

Is there even any doubt?

Any time De Villiers walks to the crease, there's an excited expectation that something special might occur.

De Villiers is aptly nicknamed 'Mr 360' and he consistently proves that he is one of the best white-ball batsmen in the world.

During his 3TC debut at SuperSport Park a few weeks ago, De Villiers led the Eagles to gold.

It was De Villiers' bat that did most of the talking - smashing 61 off 24 balls.

If the occasion presented itself, De Villiers would thrive as the Last Man Standing (LMS) due to his experience, mental capacity and firepower.

Aiden Markram

Markram would've not made the list had it not been for his top-scoring 70 off 33 balls in the Solidarity Cup.

Markram, who had been out of action for four months, adapted remarkably well to the 3TC format.

Although his limited-overs record is concerning, the 25-year-old has much experience to gain and still needs to find his rhythm internationally.

His performance for the Eagles proved that whenever the Proteas should require a cool-headed attacking batsman, he could deliver. 

Janneman Malan

Malan has proved on the domestic circuit that he is an explosive batsman in the top order - resulting in five appearances for the Proteas to date. 

In last month's Solidarity Cup, Malan contributed 31 for the bronze-placed Kingfishers.

The 24-year-old has much to learn, but it's his temperament and batting arsenal that would make him a perfect LMS candidate.

Knowing Malan, he'll probably rather go big than nudge a single or two and that's exactly the kind of fearlessness any batting side needs.

HEINZ SCHENK'S PICKS

AB de Villiers

There's indeed simply no way one can ignore the claims of 'Mr 360'.

De Villiers' exploits in the Solidarity Cup was an unsurprising reminder of his enduring quality, a player who can just turn things on in an instant.

While his astonishing range of shots is his obvious forte, the 36-year-old is still an immensely strong runner between the wickets, which is an under-appreciated ability when the boundaries aren't always forthcoming.

After all, you can only deal in twos when it comes to LMS.

Temba Bavuma

Hang on before you frown.

The diminutive right-hander might not have the power game of various other teammates (though his strike rate in ODI and T20Is is 92 and 136 respectively).

However, Bavuma has the priceless gift of being one of South African cricket's best players of spin.

If 3TC does indeed take off, you can bet top dollar the most accomplished tweakers will come into their own.

And then you can't have a swashbuckler who's all at sea against the turning ball.

Chris Morris

It was a pity the Proteas all-rounder had to withdraw from the Solidarity Cup.

Known as one of the most naturally sweet strikers of the cricket ball in the world, Morris would be an ideal finisher in the format, even if he has to do everything on his own.

One of his more under-appreciated traits though is that he doesn't solely rely on his ability to clear the boundary.

Morris has a strong game when keeping the ball on the ground too, allowing him to easily pierce gaps, especially if only six players are in the outfield. 

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