England v South Africa, 1st Investec Test, The Oval, 5th day July 23, 2012

The most comprehensive Test victory

For only the fifth time in Test history, a team won a match losing only two wickets

The most stunning aspect of South Africa's win at The Oval is that they won a Test match against arguably the best bowling attack in the world losing just two wickets. Last season, this attack had decimated India's much-hyped batting line-up, averaging 25.55 runs per wicket over four matches. Against South Africa in this game, they took two wickets for 637 runs, an average of 318.50 runs per wicket. England's batsmen, on the other hand, averaged 31.25 in the match. The difference of 287.25 is the highest in a Test which has produced a result, which makes this the most comprehensive win ever.

In fact, for South Africa, this is sweet revenge for the humiliation they had suffered at Lord's in 1924 in a Test match with similar numbers: England racked up 531 for 2, and dismissed South Africa cheaply on either side of their batting effort. In that game, South Africa had averaged 25.65 runs per wicket compared to England's 265.50; the difference between the two averages was 239.85, which was the previous record for the highest difference between averages in a decisive Test.

Biggest difference in runs per wkt between winning and losing teams
Winning team Runs per wkt Losing team Runs per wkt Difference Venue, year
South Africa 318.50 England 31.25 287.25 The Oval, 2012
England 265.50 South Africa 25.65 239.85 Lord's 1924
West Indies 263.33 Pakistan 34.22 229.11 Kingston, 1958
Sri Lanka 237.67 Zimbabwe 22.95 214.72 Bulawayo, 2004
South Africa 235.00 Bangladesh 20.50 214.50 Chittagong, 2003
England 229.50 India 19.05 210.45 Edgbaston, 1974

This is only the fifth time in a Test that a team has won a Test losing two wickets. For South Africa, this was the second such instance - they'd beaten Bangladesh in a similar manner in 2003 - but the last time any team had inflicted this humiliation on an opposition not named Bangladesh was in 1974, when England thrashed India by an innings and 78 runs at Edgbaston, scoring 459 for 2 in their only innings. In fact, England and South Africa are the only teams to win Tests losing two wickets: England achieved these results against South Africa (1924) and New Zealand (1958). South Africa, though, are the only side to achieve this overseas - all three of England's wins have come at home.

Winning a Test match for the loss of two wickets
Team Opposition Result margin Venue, year
South Africa England Innings and 12 runs The Oval, 2012
South Africa Bangladesh Innings and 60 runs Chittagong, 2003
England India Innings and 78 runs Edgbaston, 1974
England New Zealand Innings and 71 runs Headingley, 1958
England South Africa Innings and 18 runs Lord's 1924
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More stats

  • Dale Steyn's second-innings haul of 5 for 56 is his first five-for in a Test in England. It improves his career record against England to 38 wickets in nine Tests at an average of 32.05. Of his 18 five-wicket hauls, 14 have led to victories, while three have come in draws and one in a defeat. (Click here for Steyn's Test career summary.)

  • South Africa's win is their 12th in England, but their first at The Oval in 14 attempts. It's also their sixth by an innings against England, and the second such result in that country.

  • Hashim Amla won his fourth Man-of-the-Match award, and his first against England. His previous three had been against Pakistan and India (twice).

  • This was the first taste of a Test defeat for Tim Bresnan, after 13 wins and a draw in his 14 previous Tests.
With contributions from Travis Basevi

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter