Australia v South Africa 2008-09 /

South Africa greats hail triumph in Australia

'Absolutely incredible'

South Africa greats hail triumph in Australia

Nagraj Gollapudi

December 30, 2008

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South Africa's nine-wicket win in Melbourne sealed their first Test series win in Australia. Cricinfo spoke to four players who were part of the teams that beat Australia 3-1 and 4-0 in consecutive series, both at home, in 1966-67 and 1969-70.


Mike Procter (centre): "After the victory I told Graeme [Smith] 'you must be very, very proud'" © PA Photos
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Mike Procter, scored 226 runs at 25.11 and took 41 wickets at 15.02 in seven of the nine Tests

I might have been one of the only few to have witnessed both of South Africa's series victories over Australia. This victory will rank as one of the greatest sporting moments in South African history. The two Test matches South Africa won have been incredible. It just showed the tremendous character of the team because in both the Tests there was no way they could win the game and they ended up winning both matches very comfortably.

Chasing 414 [in Perth] was a monumental effort and winning by six wickets was incredible. And then when South Africa were seven down for 180-odd on the second day, there was only going be one result at the MCG. And the team changed that round and won by nine wickets. Absolutely incredible.

I know this team will be measured against the 1970s' side. Back then, we won every game pretty comfortably and there were no major problems. In these two Tests South Africa were almost staring at defeat on the second or third day and they turned that around and won convincingly. After the victory I told Graeme 'you must be very, very proud'. He is a very tough guy, highly respected and the team would do anything for him. The way the bowlers handled the situation in the second innings in Perth and Melbourne was very special and very disciplined and the batters came to the fore, too. It was just amazing.

Ali Bacher, was captain during South Africa's 4-0 whitewash in 1969-70

The one moment I, and all South Africans, will always cherish is JP Duminy's 160-odd. His second Test match, we are into our tail at 180 for 7, playing at the famous MCG in front of a huge crowd, huge pressure, and the youngster plays like he has been around for ten years. His inspirational performance in the midst of some very fine performances by our guys will be remembered for years to come.

This is history in the making. How good is the South African team? Certainly after our return to international cricket, the two best teams we had in Test cricket was the one led by the late Hansie Cronje in the late 1990s and this current one. But the records will show this team is better. They started by beating Pakistan in Pakistan, beat England in England, drew with India in India and now Australia in Australia - there can be no question they are the No. 1 in world cricket today.

Peter Pollock, scored 257 runs at 32.12 and took 27 wickets at 26.96 in the two series

When I was in Australia in September I told the media that for the first time after readmission a South African cricket team would arrive believing that they could beat the Aussies. Jacques Kallis said during the Perth Test when South Africa were not in a good position, that they could still win the Test. For a team to be a good cricket team, you need some players who are bit above the rest. We have certain cricketers who are really good cricketers.

The potential of young guys like [Dale] Steyn, [AB] de Villiers, Duminy is really big and they are going to be more than just ordinary Test players. That is what makes the difference at the highest level - I am not talking about playing Test matches, I am talking about winning Test matches. We also have to acknowledge the Australian side was pretty poor and they have not done well of late. We have won the rugby World Cup twice and that was huge, but we are country that is going through transition so every time we do something good we really hang on to it. This series victory is one of the better moments of South African sport , no question about it.

Barry Richards, scored 508 runs at 72.57 in 1969-70, during which he played the only four Tests of his career

Obviously I'm very proud of the victory. It is a great thing to do it in Australia. Our side was scheduled to tour Australia in 1971 and we would have defeated them easily but it is great that Graeme Smith has done it. He has shown a lot of maturity as a skipper and as a player he really has come to the fore. He has led by example and he has kept a cool head all the way through. I hope this victory now encourages a lot of people to take up the game in South Africa. Obviously with Duminy coming through it is a real plus for South Africa.

Comparing the side I played and the present South African one is like comparing Ben Hogan to Tiger Woods. You just can't do that. They are so far apart: the bats are different, the size of the fields were bigger in the old days and the wickets were little bit friendly towards the bowlers in the old days.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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