South Africa v West Indies 2007-08

Third Test

South Africa v West Indies 2007-08

At Durban, January 10, 11, 12, 2008. South Africa won by an innings and 100 runs. Toss: South Africa. Test debut: B. A. Parchment.


A fired-up Dale Steyn is ecstatic after bowling Marlon Samuels with a corker, South Africa v West Indies, 3rd Test, Durban, 3rd day, January 12, 2008
West Indies' batsmen proved no match to Dale Steyn's fiery pace Neil Lane / © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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Only a few of Shaun Pollock's closest friends and family had an inkling that this might be his last Test, and it wasn't until the second day's play had ended that he shared this significant piece of news with the rest of the world. With the match all but over and South Africa's come-from-behind series victory all but sealed, Pollock arrived at a press conference holding a retirement announcement that he had typed himself. Throughout a distinguished 12-year international career, Pollock was always aware of the "real world" outside cricket, and his desire not to be a distraction while there was a series to win had to be balanced with the fact that headlines would be snatched away from victory if he waited until the end. So he dived in and, having done a few press conferences in his time, proceeded to ask his own questions from the sheet in front of him - and answered them, perfectly, as usual.

He was pretty much perfect on the field, too, as West Indies ended the series with a whimper as pronounced as the bang with which they began it. In truth, it was all over a session into the first day - the tourists lunched at 100 for seven - or perhaps earlier still: after an hour, or 14.1 overs, they were 33 for five, and no one in the ground believed there was a way back after that. Pollock, in his first Test for almost a year, led the way with four wickets, making maximum use of a greenish pitch and heavy cloud cover which encouraged swing.

South Africa were batting before mid-afternoon drinks, and by the close Smith had reached 122, just 17 short of what the West Indians had managed between them. Gibbs, replacing McKenzie, who had a calf strain, had a brief comeback of 27 from 22 balls. Buoyed by the success of his savagery a few days before at Newlands, Smith employed a similarly aggressive approach, reaching 50 from 70 balls, and then flying to his 13th Test century from just 42 more, with no fewer than 19 fours.

Amla's half-century came to an end when the persevering and deserving Sammy had him caught at short mid-off, but Smith, with as much time at his disposal as any batsman could ever want or need, seemed set to career on to a fourth double-century and perhaps even challenge his own national record 277. And then he was out, to a delivery as good as it was unexpected, Taylor jagging one away to catch the edge at decent pace. Smith batted for less than four hours, faced 165 balls and hit 27 fours.

Kallis fell after a stand of 122 with Prince, but those watching the TV replays of his dismissal were perturbed by what they saw: Samuels jogged up in his usual manner, but instead of an off-break he unleashed a perfect away-swinger at a searing pace. It was an undeniable throw - and a very good one, it must be said, as it swung just enough, and very late, to hit the edge and provide Morton with a stinging slip catch. Kallis is rarely hurried, but on this occasion he had barely brought the bat down from its backlift. He briefly looked at both umpires but, as there was nothing they could do, Kallis trudged off and had the good grace to chuckle as he did so. The umpires reported Samuels's action after the match, and the ICC soon ruled that he would not be allowed to "bowl" his quicker ball again.

It mattered little. South Africa were already 235 ahead when Kallis departed and, despite sporadic attempts to overcome their obvious collective exhaustion, the West Indians were a spent force. Prince and de Villiers clubbed their way to fine unbeaten centuries before Smith finally ended the pain with a lead of 417. The batsmen were helped enormously by the tourists' decision to enter the match with just three fit front- line bowlers (Bravo, captaining instead of the injured Gayle, was unable to bowl because of a side strain).

For a while it seemed that Samuels and Bravo would take the game into a fourth day, but Steyn ended their fourth-wicket stand of 144 with a beauty to trap Bravo lbw. Then, armed with the second new ball, he bowled Samuels with another snorter before destroying the tail, taking the last four wickets for no runs in 15 balls to seal an emphatic victory. Chanderpaul, suffering from flu, did not bat: in the first innings he had collected his first Test duck since June 2005. Debutant opener Brenton Parchment was docked half his match fee for deliberately running into Steyn, who was fined 10% for provoking him.

Man of the Match: A. G. Prince.
Man of the Series: D. W. Steyn.
Close of play: First day, South Africa 213-1 (Smith 122, Amla 55); Second day, West Indies 23-0 (Ganga 6, Parchment 17).

© John Wisden & Co.