A brief history

Australia v South Africa

Will Luke and Martin Williamson

December 1, 2008

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Hugh Tayfield in action during 1949 © Getty Images
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1902-03 in South Africa
Cricket was largely limited to the English population, and in 1902, shortly after the end of the Boer War, the South African cricket authorities issued an invitation to Joe Darling's Australian side, then touring England, to return home by way of South Africa. The invitation was accepted, South African cricket surged forward from that time, and though well beaten in two of the three Test matches, the home side had their moments. Australia, transplanted to matting from the turf pitches of England, where they had won the series, found themselves fielding while South Africa made 454 in the first Test in Johannesburg. L. J. Tancred made 97 and Charles Llewellyn followed up an innings of 90 by taking 6 for 92. Australia, amazingly, had to follow on, but they had no trouble in saving the three-day match, and twice in the other two Tests bowled South Africa out for 85. South Africa's defeat in the last Test was delayed by a spectacular innings of 104 in 80 minutes by Jimmy Sinclair, which included six sixes, but Australia won by 10 wickets and Darling took his side home having made a lasting contribution to South African cricket.
South Africa 0 Australia 2 Drawn 1

1910-11 in Australia
When P. W. Sherwell took the first South African side to Australia in 1910, they enjoyed some years of success founded largely on the googly bowling of Ernest Vogler, Reginald Schwarz, and Aubrey Faulkner. But they proved less effective on Australian turf than they had at home on matting and in England. Additionally, there was no genuine fast bowler, and the others could not stop Australia making hundreds of runs. In the first Test Warren Bardsley made 132 and Clem Hill 191. In the second Victor Trumper made 159, in the third 214 not out. Hill (100) and Warwick Armstrong (132) made hundreds in the fourth Test, and Macartney 137 in the fifth. Faulkner hit 204 in defeat in the second Test and they actually won the third in Adelaide. J Zulch (105) and S Snooke (103) made hundreds in the first innings, Faulkner made 115 in the second and on a deteriorating pitch on the sixth day Australia went down by 38 runs. It was the last time for nearly 42 years that South Africa were to win a Test match against Australia.
Australia 4 South Africa 1

1912 in England
The ill-fated Triangular Tournament was dogged by appalling weather and South Africa were weak whereas Australia were a virtual shambles as a result of the long-running row between board and players. South Africa lost all three Tests against England and the first two against Australia. At Old Trafford, Kelleway (114) and Bardsley (121) made hundreds, and though Faulkner scored 122 not out for South Africa, Matthews took a hat-trick in each innings - he took no other wickets in the match. At Lord's, Kelleway (102) and Bardsley (164) again made hundreds and South Africa lost by 10 wickets.
Australia 2 South Africa 0 Drawn 1

1921-22 in South Africa
Although the Australian Imperial Forces side led by Herbie Collins visited in 1919, it was not until 1921-22 that Test cricket resumed in South Africa, and Collins again led in the absence of the injured Warwick Armstrong. The first two matches were drawn in Australia's favour, though Frank made 152 and Dave Nourse 111 after South Africa had followed on in the second. Australia won the third in Cape Town by 10 wickets, Arthur Mailey taking 4 for 40 in the first innings and Charlie Macartney 5 for 44 in the second. Previously much of the damage had been done by Jack Gregory and Ted McDonald.
South Africa 0 Australia 1 Drawn 2

1931-32 in Australia
The South Africans struggled between the wars, largely because they struggled to adapt to the changeover from matting to grass pitches. Under wicketkeeper-batsman Jock Cameron, they were in no state to resist the genius of Don Bradman in his prime, and lost all five Tests by big margins - three by an innings, one by 10 wickets, and one by 169 runs. Having begun by being caught on a bad pitch at Brisbane, a fate wont to befall weak sides, they finished on the worst of Melbourne sticky pitches. On the first day, South Africa were bowled out for 36 in less than 90 minutes, Bert Ironmonger taking 5 for 6. Ten batsmen contributed 17 between them, with Cameron making 11 and extras 8. Australia made only 153, but it was easily enough to give them victory by an innings as Ironmonger (6 for 18) and Bill O'Reilly (3 for 9) bowled South Africa out again in less than 90 minutes for 45. The whole match was over in 109 overs. Bradman, injured in the field, did not bat in this match, but his previous scores--226, 112, 2 and 167, and 299 not out--gave him an average of 201.50.
Australia 5 South Africa 0

1935-36 in South Africa
It was much the same story when Vic Richardson led the next Australian tour, even though South Africa had just beaten England away from home. But the sudden death of Jock Cameron and this seemed to set the tone for what followed. Had it not rained during the second Test in Johannesburg, South Africa would have lost all five Tests. As it was, they lost three by an innings and one by nine wickets. Australia's spinners wreaked havoc - Clarrie Grimmett took 44 wickets at 14 and O'Reilly 27 at 17 - while with the bat Stan McCabe averaged 84 and Jack Fingleton 79. Dudley Nourse played a fine innings of 231 in the second innings of the drawn Test, but that was a rare moment of cheer for South Africans.
South Africa 0 Australia 4 Drawn 1

1949-50 in South Africa
Even though Bradman had gone, Lindsay Hassett's Australian team had almost as easy a passage as its predecessor. South African's bowling was woefully thin, and Arthur Morris, Neil Harvey, Hassett, and others made hundreds of easy runs. In the drawn Test in Johannesburg Moroney made a hundred in each innings. The only hiccup for the tourists came in the third Test when they were bowled out for 75 (thanks to Hugh Tayfield's 7 for 23) but did not enforce the follow on despite leading by 236. The plan backfired as they were skittled for 99 and Australia successfully chased 336 on a poor surface winning with 25 minutes and five wickets in hand thanks to 151 not out from Harvey.
South Africa 0 Australia 4 Drawn 1

1952-53 in Australia
Against the odds, South Africa drew the series thanks to inspired captaincy from Jack Cheetham and consistently outstanding fielding. They caught everything, and Hugh Tayfield emerged as a great offspinner in Australian conditions. The first Test went to Australia, though the Springboks, who had not won a state match and had lost to New South Wales, did better than most people expected, and lost by only 96 runs. They then staggered the cricket world by winning the second Test, in Melbourne, their first victory over Australia for 42 years. They were slightly behind on the first innings, but Endean made 162 not out in the second innings and Tayfield (7 for 81) completed the triumph. Within a fortnight Australia had won the third Test by an innings, Neil Harvey (190) making the third of his four hundreds in the series, and when Australia had much the better of a draw in Adelaide, there was inevitably a tendency to write off South Africa's second-Test success as a flash in the pan. But back at Melbourne they won one of the most glorious victories in Test history, for it was achieved after Australia, batting first, had made 520 in their first innings, Harvey 205. The Springboks scored consistently to reach 435, and then the fast bowler Eddie Fuller, with help from Tayfield and Mansell, dismissed Australia for 209. The Springboks still had to score 295 to win, and at 191 for 4 the match was in the balance. Then Roy McLean came in to make 76 out of 106 in 80 minutes, the match was won, and the rubber halved.
Australia 2 South Africa 2 Drawn 1

1957-58 in South Africa
Under the captaincy of the 22-year-old Ian Craig, Australia's spinners again played a crucial role in winning the series. Richie Benaud took 30 wickets and Lindsey Kline 15, and with Alan Davidson's 25 this was quite enough to defeat a negative South African side. Mackay, who averaged 125, and Benaud easily covered up the moderate form of Craig and Neil Harvey. South Africa started the series promisingly making 470 for 9, they lost the second, could not press home a promising position in the third, when Neil Adcock and Peter Heine bowled Australia out in the first innings for 163, and easily lost the last two.
South Africa. 0 Australia 3 Drawn 2

1963-64 in Australia
For the second tour running, South Africa turned the form book on its head and shared the series, this time thanks to the fast bowling of Peter Pollock, the swing bowling of Partridge, and the exciting batting of their young guns, Eddie Barlow, Graeme Pollock, and Colin Bland. The series began with a draw at Brisbane, a match made memorable by the calling of Ian Meckiff for throwing, ending his Test career. Though Barlow made 109 and 54 in the second Test, Bill Lawry's 157 helped Australia win it comfortably by eight wickets. After a drawn third Test, South Africa followed with a magnificent 10-wicket victory built on an historic third-wicket stand of 341 in 283 minutes between Barlow (201) and Graeme Pollock (175). The final Test was drawn.
Australia 1 South Africa 1 Drawn 3

1966-67 in South Africa
South Africa finally won a series against Australia, and under Peter van der Merwe their young batsmen destroyed the Australian spin, while former captain Trevor Goddard led the way for the home side with 26 wickets. The tour started with the Australians losing to Transvaal's, the first ever defeat for Australian side in South Africa, and a gripping series captivated the public. South Africa won a sensational first-Test victory in Johannesburg after Australia had passed their first-innings total of 199 with only one wicket down. In the second innings. South Africa's wicketkeeper Denis Lindsay played the first of three swashbuckling hundreds that tipped the scales at vital times - he finished the series with 606 runs and 24 catches. Australia won the second Test at Cape Town with 25 minutes and seven wickets to spare, despite of Graeme Pollock's second innings 209. Of the last three Tests, South Africa won two and would have won the other by the biggest margin of all but for rain. The tide had finally turned.
South Africa 3 Australia 1 Drawn 1

1969-70 in South Africa
A watershed series. It marked the emergence of a brilliantly balanced South Africa side, but one that never again took to the field in a Test as sanctions took hold. Although Bill Lawry's team arrived after a grueling tour of India, they were still expected to be too good for a South Africans side that had not played Test cricket for three years. But South Africa's batting line-up was awesome with Barry Richards and Mike Procter added to Eddie Barlow and Graeme Pollock. Australia fought hard in the series opener at Newlands, where the pitches that season had been taking spin. But Ali Bacher won the toss, Eddie Barlow made 127, and South Africa won by 170 runs. After that there seemed little hope for Australia on the other pitches, and their defeats were even more conclusive. At Durban, Richards hammered 140, almost scoringa ton before lunch, and Pollock made 274. Australia were utterly routed on the field and a mess off it.

1993-94 in Australia
The success of South Africa's first tour of Australia for 30 years was assured at Sydney, when a young side - temporarily under the direction of Hansie Cronje, after an injury to the captain Kepler Wessels - pulled off a remarkable victory, dismissing Australia for 111 to win the Second Test by the slender margin of five runs. The euphoria of the historic Sydney victory outweighed an anticlimactic end to the tour, defeat in the one-day World Series finals being followed by a comprehensive reverse in the Adelaide Test. Despite this, the Test series was shared, mirroring the performance of South Africa's last two touring team in Australia, in 1952-53 and 1963-64; the First Test had been ruined by unseasonal weather, which allowed little more than four hours' play over the first three days at Melbourne.
Tests: Australia 1 South Africa 1 Drawn 1
ODIs: Australia 4 South Africa 3

1993-94 in South Africa
Australia's tour of South Africa in early 1994 was a big success on and off the field, and honour was mutually satisfied when they split the three-Test series 1-1 and the one-day international series 4-4. The results of the Tests matched those in the series played just beforehand in Australia, though they were an utter contrast to Australia's previous visit 24 years earlier when South Africa won 4-0. In this case, the greater pride was with the South Africans since the same Australian players had slaughtered England a few months before. The three five-day Tests drew 170,000 spectators; the eight limited-overs games were all set-outs, and were watched by 157,000. The first two Tests produced one-sided results after fluctuating matches containing the best elements of five-day cricket. After South Africa had been 126 for six on the first day in Johannesburg, only a supremely resilient innings from Jonty Rhodes kept his side in the match and enabled Hansie Cronje to score a century and set up the victory. At Newlands, the match seemed a certain draw until, in the final half-hour on the fourth day, South Africa lost four wickets for three runs, beginning with a hairline run-out of Kepler Wessels, settled by the third umpire.The much-anticipated decider at Kingsmead never caught fire, which was a shame as it was the final Test in Allan Border's remarkable career.
Tests: South Africa 1 Australia 1 Drawn 1
ODIs: South Africa 4 Australia 4

1996-97 in South Africa
Mark Taylor became the first visiting captain to win a Test series in South Africa since they returned to official international cricket in 1991. But although it was Australia's sixth successive series win (excluding a one-off defeat by India), Taylor ended the tour with his position in doubt. His form was such that, after averaging 16 over the three Tests and scoring seven and 17 in the first two one-day internationals, he dropped himself for the remaining five games. Australia also won the seven-match one-day international series - South Africa's first defeat in a limited-overs series or tournament on home soil since early 1993. It was a surprise result, as Australia had won only five limited-overs games out of 18 following their defeat in the 1996 World Cup final. South Africa had suffered only two defeats in 24 matches in that time, but paid for their tactical error at Centurion Park, where they opted to risk bowling with a wet ball.
Tests: South Africa 1 Australia 2
ODIs: South Africa 3 Australia 4


Shaun Pollock appeals for a wicket during the 1997-98 series © Getty Images
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1997-98 in Australia
The South Africans arrived with high hopes of recording their first Test series victory over Australia in four attempts since returning to the international fold. In the end, two factors counted against them. A familiar foe, Shane Warne, overcame unseasonal damp weather in the Sydney Test with some wristy magic, which included his 300th Test wicket. And in the Third Test at Adelaide, as the visitors looked set to square the series, uncharacteristically ragged fielding cost them dear. Ten catches went down as Australia just managed to stave off defeat and take the series 1-0.
Tests: Australia 1 South Africa 0 Drawn 2
ODIs: Australia 2 South Africa 5

2001-02 in Australia
Though the ICC tabulations said South Africa would replace Australia as Championship leaders by winning or drawing this three-Test rubber, they never looked like contenders. The tourists were thrice disposed of by big margins, with ample time to spare, and in some disarray. For Australia, the encounter put further flesh on an already far-from-bony case to be considered the outstanding cricket team of the last decade. The latest weapon in their line-up was the left-handed opening combination of Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer; a faute de mieux arrangement in England had flowered on home soil. The hulking Hayden was overpowering, scoring his 429 runs at a strike-rate of around 60 per hundred balls. Always busy, always acquisitive, Langer was less eye-catching but little less effective, having turned his recall at The Oval into a new lease on life. By the end of the series, their average partnership was a hearty 117.90, including four double-century stands in 11 innings.
Tests: Australia 3 South Africa 0
ODIs: Australia 3 South Africa 1

2001-02 in South Africa
Australians were deeply offended by the fact that a draw in either of their back-to-back series against South Africa would be enough to dislodge them from the top of the ICC Test Championship. Steve Waugh's team had seen off the first half of the challenge at home, giving South Africa such a hammering that the return series might have been a foregone conclusion. But they arrived in February, the tail end of the African summer, when rain is always a threat, and the possibility that they could be dethroned without a ball being bowled meant there was no shortage of motivation for Australia. But Shaun Pollock missed all three Tests with a knee injury, fatally weakening the attack, which became even thinner when Allan Donald broke down on the first day of the series and then announced his retirement from Test cricket. The captaincy passed to Pollock's deputy, the wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, who lost his first Test in charge, at Johannesburg, by an innings and 360 runs. It was the second-heaviest defeat in Test history. "I don't care about the margin of defeat or records," Boucher responded. "Every loss hurts just the same." They held out for five days in Cape Town before losing a close-fought encounter, and finally registered a victory at Durban a week later. No amount of praise would flatter Australia, and especially Adam Gilchrist. Even those who had seen 100 or more Tests were astonished by Gilchrist's performance - 473 runs at 157, including what was then the fastest double-hundred in Test cricket.
Tests: South Africa 1 Australia 2
ODIs: South Africa 1 Australia 5 Tied 1

2005-06 in Australia
A back-to-the-wall hundred from Jacques Rudolph saved South Africa from defeat in the first Test, after Brad Hodge had set Australia up with a fine double hundred. South Africa had complained that some of their players were subjected to racial abuse, a row which escalated into a war of words between the two sides long after the series had finished. Despite exceptional hundreds from Mike Hussey and Ricky Ponting, Australia's first innings of the second Test faltered to Andre Nel and Shaun Pollock. In reply, South Africa fell to a 44-run first-innings deficit, with Herschelle Gibbs failing by four runs to reach a hundred. After Matthew Hayden's hundred, and an innings of sheer violence from Andrew Symonds in Australia's second innings, South Africa, set 366 to win, crumbled to 82 for 6. Pollock revived hopes of a draw with a patient and unbeaten innings of 67, but it was too little, too late. Hundreds from Ashwell Prince and Jacques Kallis led South Africa to a confident 451 for 9 in the third Test and despite a hundred from Ponting, Australia made 359 with Nel picking up another four wickets. Brisk fifties from Gibbs and Kallis on the final day set Australia a challenging 287, a target which Ponting (143) practically achieved on his own; he became the only player to hit a century in both innings of his hundredth Test, leading Australia to a comprehensive eight-wicket win. However, the series was marred by the debate surrounding the treatment of South Africa's players; the furore led Mark Boucher to say 'I have lost respect for one or two of their players'.
Tests: Australia 2 South Africa 0 Drawn 1
ODIs: Australia 6 South Africa 3

2005-06 in South Africa
A three-nil whipping as Australia began to show ominous form following the scars of losing the 2005 Ashes. Stuart Clark, an anonymous-looking seamer from New South Wales, made his debut in the first Test in Cape Town and was quickly into his stride as a ready replacement for Glenn McGrath. His nine wickets were the third-best figures for someone playing his inaugural Test, and any hope of a McGrath-less Australia being walkovers was depressingly short-lived. They were too strong for South Africa in the second match in Durban, too. Mike Hussey's remarkable skill to nurture runs from the tail extended Australia's first innings to 369, while Brett Lee's five-fer handed them a 102-run lead. Ponting's second hundred in the match set South Africa 410 and they were never in the contest, though the match ended in controversy when Steve Bucknor allowed play to continue under floodlights on the final day. The light had been offered on previous days, and it was one of many contentious decisions Bucknor would make over the next 12 months. Australia very nearly slipped up in the third and final Test, but fought tooth and nail to secure their first-ever whitewash in South Africa. The hosts had slipped in the second innings, but Mark Boucher's gutsy 63 ensured South Africa's bowlers at least set Australia something challenging. And it was. Damien Martyn, contentious picked ahead of Brad Hodge for the tour, showed immense character in his 101, and although Australia continued to lose wickets, Lee's second important knock of the game ensured a 3-0 scoreline.
Tests: South Africa 0 Australia 3
ODIs South Africa 3 Australia 2

Will Luke is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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Will Luke Assistant editor Will opted against a lifetime of head-bangingly dull administration in the NHS, where he had served for two years. In 2005 came a break at Cricinfo where he slotted right in as a ferociously enthusiastic tea drinker and maker, with a penchant for using "frankly" and "marvellous". He also runs The Corridor, a cricket blog where he can be found ranting and raving about all things - some even involving the sport. He is a great-great nephew of Sir Jack Newman, the former Wellingtonian bowler who took two wickets at 127 apiece for New Zealand.
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