Pat Cummins has revealed even David Warner was surprised to be named player of the series after Australia's 2-0 win over South Africa. The Aussies beat South Africa on home soil for the first time in 14 years, with the third Test at the SCG ending in a draw on Sunday.
Usman Khawaja was named player of the match for his 195 not out - which marked his third-consecutive century at the SCG. Only the poor weather in Sydney cost him a maiden double century, with Cummins forced to declare on day four and leave Khawaja five runs short.
However the decision to award Warner the player of the series has been met with derision in the cricket world. The opener scored 213 runs at an average of 53.25 across the three-Test series, however 200 of his runs came in one innings in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
Warner's other scores throughout the series were 0, 3 and 10. Many felt Travis Head or Steve Smith were more deserving, with Smith ending as the leading run-scorer for the series with 231 at an average of 57.75. Head equalled Warner's run tally with 213 after scores of 92, 0, 51 and 70, scoring at a strike rate of over 100.
Cummins was the pick of the bowlers with 12 wickets at an average of 16.91. Speaking after the drawn third Test, the Aussie captain revealed Warner's surprise at being awarded the gong.
“He said it himself - ‘oh, that’s surprising’,” Cummins told reporters. “I heard someone say it was (very close) between a few different players and Davey got it in the end."
However Cummins said none of the players would be too fussed. He added: "Whenever someone plays it’s not the first thing they put on their mantle, player of the series, so it is what it is."
According to reports, Warner, Head and Khawaja all finished on 18 votes for player of the series, with broadcasters giving the nod to Warner because his innings at the MCG was the most dominant. Warner broke a three-year century drought in Melbourne when he made 200 to ease the pressure on his spot in the Aussie side.
Nevertheless, fans and commentators weren't impressed that Warner got the gong. Mark Gottlieb tweeted: "How the hell did David Warner win player of the series? Did they not watch the first two innings? Bloke had one good dig."
Daniel Brettig of ESPN Cricinfo wrote: "Warner is somehow player of the series. Travis Head made runs in every Test, including the most important innings of the series in Brisbane, and did it at a strike rate of 100."
Aussies settle for draw in third Test at SCG
Australia's push for a 3-0 whitewash in the series ultimately fell eight wickets short after South Africa reached 2-106 when the match was called off with 5.1 overs remaining on Sunday. The Aussies entered the final day needing 14 wickets for an improbable victory, but could only manage six.
After bowling South Africa out for 255 in the first first innings, Cummins was able to enforce the follow-on and send the Proteas straight back in to bat. However the pitch didn't provide many favours for the home side and South Africa survived.
Over 100 overs were lost due to the poor weather in Sydney, with the third day and complete washout. It meant the pitch hadn't deteriorated as much as the Aussies had hoped when they played Ashton Agar as a second spinner alongside Nathan Lyon.
"Fourteen wickets was a hard ask," Josh Hazlewood said on Sunday evening. "If we didn't lose any to rain, who knows what may have been. It would have been nice to have seen the wicket after five days of traffic on it and seen how that would have played, whether it was back to the old school SCG, but it was good fun today."
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