December 21, 2008

Weaklings turn bullies

South Africa have never, yet, snared a series in Australia. But suddenly their corner looks very compellingly like the one to be in
  shares 30


At 3.55pm on a sunny Sunday in Perth, the truly cathartic moment may have come for South Africa © PA Photos
 

The serenity… the consummate serenity. No, those couldn't have been South Africans coolly dug in at the fifth-day WACA crease or chilling in vest-clad clusters on the away dressing-room balcony. Could they?

You may have blinked, but they were.

For the first time since January 6, 1994 in Sydney, when Fanie de Villiers jubilantly turned both arms to the heavens after his caught-and-bowled dismissal of a skinny, fresh-faced Glenn McGrath, a South African cricket team had sampled something other than defeat, sporadic draws, or heaps of general heartbreak in a Test match in Australia. And it came under circumstances seismic enough to warrant picking up the weighty albatross that had oppressively enveloped South African necks and flinging the infernal thing into a muddy swamp.

Always in the post-isolation era, touring South African teams have had their moments down under - for it is their instinctive way to be competitive and belligerent. It has not always been their characteristic, however, to be street-smart and to play the pivotal cards well. Indeed, it was something of a standing joke in Australia that the "Saffers" could be uncannily relied upon to collapse in a bloodied heap in the 15th round - if not sometimes well before that when a certain Shane Warne, in particular, smelled claret and liked it. Steve Waugh used to relish South Africa tottering on the mental tightrope, too; it was his gleeful signal to savagely turn screws and simultaneously back up his famous barbs at the sensitive southern-hemisphere foes.

It has made for some wincing, deflating, hands-on-heads experiences for the good folk of the Rainbow Nation, all too often putting the kettle on and settling into bouts of televised masochism in the bleary hours before dawn. Yes, South Africa's supposed heavyweight cricketing arsenal has tended to reveal fatal flab and a glass jaw in Australia.

But wheels turn, and we know that Australian captaincy incumbent Ricky Ponting has slowly but surely shed some of his most valued punching partners. (He may be especially loath to sacrifice another in the big-bicep Queenslander Matthew Hayden just yet, wretched form and luck notwithstanding.)

All the while, a fantastically and unusually settled South African team, glued by the strategic alliance of Graeme Smith and Mickey Arthur, has made tip-toed yet meaningful strides in the ring. Beating Pakistan away, sharing the spoils in India, winning a series in England for the first time since 1965 - suddenly the big talkers were learning to deliver on all their bluster.

At 3.55pm on a sunny Sunday in Perth, though, the truly cathartic moment may have come, as South Africa put the seal on their illuminatingly unfussed work of achieving the second best fourth-innings run chase in Test history. Had either of AB de Villiers or JP Duminy finished it off with a six on 413, when the scores were tied, it would even have eclipsed West Indies' 418 for 7 to win against the same Australia in Antigua in 2002-03. But in terms of the magnitude of the respective victories, the Perth one positively romps home on points: the West Indies triumph came in a rubber as dead (0-3 going into the match) as the proverbial dodo.

They're already calling this epic 2008-09 Test match "the cracker at the WACA": to many South Africans, make no mistake, that term is likely to generate the sort of the treasured sporting gravitas of the Rumble in the Jungle or the Thrilla in Manila.

Only, this time there wasn't just one victorious heavyweight. The big feature of the first Test fairytale was just how ballsy, throughout the ranks, this South African team turned out to be.

 
 
As much as anything, this was a triumph of faith: the faith that has been shown for a year or two in a jealously small core of players powering the South African Test cause
 

The scoreboard for the game confirms it, with an impressive queue of candidates for player of the match, before de Villiers, who was simply never out of the game with his two weighty, mature innings and jaw-dropping catching in the cordon, stole it by a whisker from the likes of Smith - he of the seemingly limitless pain threshold - and revitalised allrounder Jacques Kallis.

In a match that fluctuated intriguingly until South Africa made it look so spookily easy on day five, it is worth noting that Australia, ominously true to tradition, had had their noses in front more often. Cynical South Africans had a right to fear history was in the process of repeating itself. Instead the mouse roared.

As much as anything, this was a triumph of faith: the faith that has been shown for a year or two in a jealously small core of players powering the South African Test cause. The XI routinely fielded does not always escape critics' harsh, eagle eyes. Arthur knows deep down that the tail, the 8-11, is almost lamentably weak. But he backs the specialist batsmen to post the runs and he backs his strike bowlers to do the 20-wickets job.

"These are the guys we believe in," he will tell you, with conviction and refreshingly free of rocket-science-speak. That belief extends to Duminy, the little Cape Cobras left-hander who has been part of the squad furniture for a while but had to wait patiently to finally be catapulted to duty at the WACA because of Ashwell Prince's late cracked thumb. Duminy's elasticity, soft hands and composure were there for all to see, and the temperate Richie Benaud was also moved to observe: "He's like lightning between the wickets."

Bouquets for this victory under the steely, and increasingly less brash "Biff" Smith have criss-crossed South Africa. An important one came from Ali Bacher, South African captain of the famous 4-0 whitewash of the visiting Aussies in 1969-70. "I believe this to be our best Test win ever," he said. "Surely our finest moment… an extraordinary performance."

The greater job is far from done. South Africa have never, yet, snared a series in Australia. But suddenly their corner looks very compellingly like the one to be in.

The once pimply, goofy kid has spiky stubble now. The Aussie meanie? He seems a bit long in the tooth, even after recent forced personnel alterations.

Early-morning alarm clocks from Cape Town to Krugersdorp and KwaMashu may not signal dread for cricket fans over the remainder of the festive season, and that would make a nice change.

Robert Houwing is chief writer for www.Sport24.co.za in South Africa.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY soajay on | December 23, 2008, 16:42 GMT

    Okay guys, I agree, South Africa did one of the best things in test cricket.. To chase 414 against Australia in Australia is surely remarkable. But again, to rule the Aussies out of the series would be stupidity. Australia may be bullied once or twice, but not forever.. You will see a fight back in the next to tests...

  • POSTED BY CricketLoversRuleTheWorld on | December 23, 2008, 16:05 GMT

    This Aussie side is one of the weakest in last 25 years or so.Well their batting still has the talent and fire power in them.But their bowling really looked toothless.Not just Proteas even India and England much better and balanced attack than them.Its really painful to see Lee bowls.He looked like a medium fast bowler,not a fast bowler.Tough time ahead for Aussies.Well frankly speaking though SA looks like the most determenied at the moment though i think one way they r lucky as they not facing the best team but 3rd strongest team in the world .One thing I should admit on spinning track SA batsmans r much more well equpped than lot of other sides but still they actually r not succesful against good spinners on turning tracks.I accept they have won test in India but shockingly it was green top which was gifted to the tourists because of some internal politics among the administrators.In kanpur on a so called underprepared wicket(Green tops r considered sporting???!!)they struggled

  • POSTED BY Marv3l on | December 23, 2008, 12:06 GMT

    Well done SA - great test that went all the way. Mitchell's late burst on day 2 definitely papered over some cracks that the Aussies will qucikly want to fix.

    Edygriff21 enjoy your serving of cold 'humble' pie! Your disparaging remarks about South Africa's 'flat track bullies' were as off the mark as your 'quality' batsmen Punter and Huss

  • POSTED BY CricketPissek on | December 23, 2008, 10:23 GMT

    yeah Nipun. cant agree with you more machang! Sexy year for tests indeed :) coindicentally or ironically it's the same year that Twenty20 was meant to take over the world! Dont get me wrong, i love a bit of hit and giggle too, but this is the real deal man.. absorbing stuff. let's see how the aussies come back though, they won't take this lying down!

  • POSTED BY klempie on | December 23, 2008, 6:42 GMT

    @touseef. Imran Tahir who played for Pakistan A will be qualifying for us on the 1st of April. He picked up 44 wickets in 7 matches on the county championship for Hampshire this year.

  • POSTED BY _IndianCricketFan on | December 22, 2008, 21:54 GMT

    The true challenge now will be to beat them in their own country. Australia can no longer (in my opinion) be dominant "overseas" as they have been in the past. Beating them on their own soil would be truly great for South Africa.

  • POSTED BY LongIslandIceTea on | December 22, 2008, 19:52 GMT

    Over the past twenty years Australia have played some excellent cricket and entertained the crowds well. The credit goes to the fine cricket players that the country has produced.

    Having said that, Australia now tends to take the high quality of cricket for granted and focuses on setting up 'high' moral standards. Whatever the team players do is 'correct, moral and justified.' They spend a lot of time and energy defining what is lawful and playful banter and what was unethical. The team expects umpires to give caught behinds only if the batsman walks. They (pointing being the leader) have developed a over inflated ego. A few days back, he publicly defended the number one ranking that Australia have.

    I am sure that I am not alone when I say that it is about time that Australia put their ego out of the picture, stop worrying about being the international morality police & about rankings & the gossip so that they can sincerely start working on their game and once again entertain us.

  • POSTED BY touseef on | December 22, 2008, 14:30 GMT

    South Africans have proven they are one of three best test playing nations in the world. The downfall of aussies was obvious after defeat against indians earlier in test series. Without McGrath and Warne, aussie bowling really lacked the sting on her home ground. South Africans must hire a good Spin bowler as their spin coach like Mushtaq Mohammad, Mushtaq Ahmad or Abdul Qadir. With a quality legbreak bowler in their team, certainly they can become number one in coming years.

  • POSTED BY popcorn on | December 22, 2008, 12:13 GMT

    There is no difference betyween India and South Africa - one win and they think they've turned bullies! When did you last win,Mr.Robert Houwing,after 1993-94? Trounced 3 nil in your backyard by the Aussies,just recently, remember? "One swallow doth not a summer make".

  • POSTED BY Nipun on | December 22, 2008, 10:19 GMT

    To Sanchonz,well,T20s are entertaining by their very nature,but yeah,such interesting test matches are just too good for comparison.West Indies chase against Sri Lanka @ Trinidad earlier this year,sorry forgot to mention coz I hadn't watched it.But yeah,what an unbelievable year of test cricket we've had. Let's just hope that this trend continues,coz for a pure cricket lover,nothing can be more enchanting than a hard-fought,close test match...

  • POSTED BY soajay on | December 23, 2008, 16:42 GMT

    Okay guys, I agree, South Africa did one of the best things in test cricket.. To chase 414 against Australia in Australia is surely remarkable. But again, to rule the Aussies out of the series would be stupidity. Australia may be bullied once or twice, but not forever.. You will see a fight back in the next to tests...

  • POSTED BY CricketLoversRuleTheWorld on | December 23, 2008, 16:05 GMT

    This Aussie side is one of the weakest in last 25 years or so.Well their batting still has the talent and fire power in them.But their bowling really looked toothless.Not just Proteas even India and England much better and balanced attack than them.Its really painful to see Lee bowls.He looked like a medium fast bowler,not a fast bowler.Tough time ahead for Aussies.Well frankly speaking though SA looks like the most determenied at the moment though i think one way they r lucky as they not facing the best team but 3rd strongest team in the world .One thing I should admit on spinning track SA batsmans r much more well equpped than lot of other sides but still they actually r not succesful against good spinners on turning tracks.I accept they have won test in India but shockingly it was green top which was gifted to the tourists because of some internal politics among the administrators.In kanpur on a so called underprepared wicket(Green tops r considered sporting???!!)they struggled

  • POSTED BY Marv3l on | December 23, 2008, 12:06 GMT

    Well done SA - great test that went all the way. Mitchell's late burst on day 2 definitely papered over some cracks that the Aussies will qucikly want to fix.

    Edygriff21 enjoy your serving of cold 'humble' pie! Your disparaging remarks about South Africa's 'flat track bullies' were as off the mark as your 'quality' batsmen Punter and Huss

  • POSTED BY CricketPissek on | December 23, 2008, 10:23 GMT

    yeah Nipun. cant agree with you more machang! Sexy year for tests indeed :) coindicentally or ironically it's the same year that Twenty20 was meant to take over the world! Dont get me wrong, i love a bit of hit and giggle too, but this is the real deal man.. absorbing stuff. let's see how the aussies come back though, they won't take this lying down!

  • POSTED BY klempie on | December 23, 2008, 6:42 GMT

    @touseef. Imran Tahir who played for Pakistan A will be qualifying for us on the 1st of April. He picked up 44 wickets in 7 matches on the county championship for Hampshire this year.

  • POSTED BY _IndianCricketFan on | December 22, 2008, 21:54 GMT

    The true challenge now will be to beat them in their own country. Australia can no longer (in my opinion) be dominant "overseas" as they have been in the past. Beating them on their own soil would be truly great for South Africa.

  • POSTED BY LongIslandIceTea on | December 22, 2008, 19:52 GMT

    Over the past twenty years Australia have played some excellent cricket and entertained the crowds well. The credit goes to the fine cricket players that the country has produced.

    Having said that, Australia now tends to take the high quality of cricket for granted and focuses on setting up 'high' moral standards. Whatever the team players do is 'correct, moral and justified.' They spend a lot of time and energy defining what is lawful and playful banter and what was unethical. The team expects umpires to give caught behinds only if the batsman walks. They (pointing being the leader) have developed a over inflated ego. A few days back, he publicly defended the number one ranking that Australia have.

    I am sure that I am not alone when I say that it is about time that Australia put their ego out of the picture, stop worrying about being the international morality police & about rankings & the gossip so that they can sincerely start working on their game and once again entertain us.

  • POSTED BY touseef on | December 22, 2008, 14:30 GMT

    South Africans have proven they are one of three best test playing nations in the world. The downfall of aussies was obvious after defeat against indians earlier in test series. Without McGrath and Warne, aussie bowling really lacked the sting on her home ground. South Africans must hire a good Spin bowler as their spin coach like Mushtaq Mohammad, Mushtaq Ahmad or Abdul Qadir. With a quality legbreak bowler in their team, certainly they can become number one in coming years.

  • POSTED BY popcorn on | December 22, 2008, 12:13 GMT

    There is no difference betyween India and South Africa - one win and they think they've turned bullies! When did you last win,Mr.Robert Houwing,after 1993-94? Trounced 3 nil in your backyard by the Aussies,just recently, remember? "One swallow doth not a summer make".

  • POSTED BY Nipun on | December 22, 2008, 10:19 GMT

    To Sanchonz,well,T20s are entertaining by their very nature,but yeah,such interesting test matches are just too good for comparison.West Indies chase against Sri Lanka @ Trinidad earlier this year,sorry forgot to mention coz I hadn't watched it.But yeah,what an unbelievable year of test cricket we've had. Let's just hope that this trend continues,coz for a pure cricket lover,nothing can be more enchanting than a hard-fought,close test match...

  • POSTED BY Cricdish on | December 22, 2008, 10:00 GMT

    I fully expect South Africa to mess up over the next 2 tests to lose 2-1 and regain the chokers tag :)

  • POSTED BY mesaikaran on | December 22, 2008, 9:45 GMT

    Australians are no more world champs as they were comprhensively beaten up and the way south africans cruised to the win for amazing for everyone but heart breaking for (former)world champs aussies.Having gone down already to indians now it is the africans to beat them comprehensively, for me the cheating aussie agressive on-field and off-field dominanace was over

  • POSTED BY Sageleaf on | December 22, 2008, 9:10 GMT

    I re-called my Dad saying South Africa dominated test cricket in the late 60s. Then the Australian took in controlled under Ian Chappell in early to mid 70s. West Indies rocked the test cricket in late 70s till mid 80s with their fiery pace attack. By late 80s and till mid 90s the dominance was shared by few countries. But the Australians took command of the # 1 test ranking from later 90s till now. I think its time for the Australians to hand over the baton to South Africa or India once again. It might be even be Sri Lanka as they have not played any test matches lately. I would love to see how the other teams could face the best spin due in the world today along with slinger Malinga. Congratulations, South Africa.

  • POSTED BY klempie on | December 22, 2008, 8:50 GMT

    Inxia. We will do our best to remain humble...but it will be hard! ;) hehe

  • POSTED BY shaunoppas on | December 22, 2008, 8:17 GMT

    what a victory for smith & his guys.this is what every body needed to demolish the aussies. as for i considered this is the time for ponting to resign his captaincy, to get aussies back for another tough game against us. congrats for south africa & smiths guys.

  • POSTED BY Vilander on | December 22, 2008, 8:10 GMT

    @ IndianCricLover

    i think that is what is happening between aus and rsa, once they are done we will know who is best and then india can have a go at the best team. we should remember that we have not beated sa still.

  • POSTED BY IndianCricLover on | December 22, 2008, 7:55 GMT

    A full home & away back to back India-South Africa test series... Can it get any better than this.. to decide who's the new numero uno

  • POSTED BY Trevmeister on | December 22, 2008, 7:26 GMT

    This would never have been allowed to happen on Steve Waugh's watch. I suppose that's a bit harsh: the real difference between then and now is the absence of McGrath and Warne. The makings of a great inspirational leader are in the tough times not the good times, but I just don't see any signs that Ponting can turn it around. He doesn't seem hungry enough. But, cometh the hour cometh the man. Now suddenly the pressure's on Aus. What a series it's going to be!

  • POSTED BY snarge on | December 22, 2008, 7:06 GMT

    Whoa cricket fans. There's still two Tests to come, and then three more in South Africa. This was a hard-fought Test. There is a lot of potential for some of these comments to look stupid. People like Inxia are probably used to it though.

  • POSTED BY inxia on | December 22, 2008, 5:22 GMT

    As a cricket fan and an Australian, can I please make an impassioned plea to the South Africans. When you do become the number 1 team in Test cricket, please don't ACTUALLY become the bully-boys of world cricket. It has been so embarrassing as an Australian over the past 20 years to watch the Australian cricket team practise their various euphemisms for sledging and on-field abuse. I'm really enjoying watching Matthew Hayden becoming less and less relevant after his behaviour through the last decade. Hopefully, the same will happen to Ponting soon.

    South Africa, please show the cricket world that it is possible to win with grace. I know you can do it.

  • POSTED BY jasjot99 on | December 22, 2008, 2:42 GMT

    at Nipun - "Oh my Goodness!We are having a hell of sexy test matches this year."

    well said mate! couldn't agree with you more!

  • POSTED BY Rusty_1 on | December 22, 2008, 2:29 GMT

    Congrats to SA from an Aussie supporter. truthfully, when SA was set >400 to win in the final innings, I though there was no chance at all. Smith & De Villiers the stand outs, with Kallis up there - remember: here was a guy coming into this series with no runs or form with the bat. The poor form for the Aussie Bowlers (Johnson excepted) & Haydos continue for the Aussies. Changes need to ne made to the Aussies. Bollinger MUST come in for Siddle (bollinger being the leading domestic wicket-taker in the strongest domestic comp in the world with 45 victims at an average of 15) & the Kreja experiment needs to come to an end.

  • POSTED BY mrajana on | December 22, 2008, 0:58 GMT

    A thrilling and well deserved victory! A gritty performance by the Springboks signalling the end of Aussie domination of the sport. It was unexpected, totally uncharacteristic of SA based on their recent performances and out of the blue. Australians have to look to rebuild their team and their tarnished reputation. Right now they are looking like paper tigers.

  • POSTED BY sri1ram on | December 21, 2008, 22:40 GMT

    At least now Australian fans should be convinced that India should have won the series in Australia 2:1 if not for Bucknor's antics at SCG! This current team is decidedly inferior to the one with Warne/Mcgrath. Now we know why Ozzies were at their venomous worst that game because they would have thrown off the #1 status 6 months to a year in advance.

  • POSTED BY Sanchonz on | December 21, 2008, 20:32 GMT

    With test cricket this entertaining, who needs 20/20s?

  • POSTED BY Firstdrop on | December 21, 2008, 20:26 GMT

    Congratulations to South Africa on an inspirational win and an absorbing contest. As an Australian I think that some of the cries for Ponting and other's heads are somewhat premature. After all this is a side that is rebuilding with a depleted attack and yet they contested strongly for four days, setting SA 414 to win in the fourth innings. There are some who take great delight at the gradual erosion of invincibility that this team has enjoyed but we should not forget the entertainment provided overthe years, and importantly the role played in setting a new standard of test cricket. Teams like SA, India and to a lesser extent England may have caught up but it's taken a few years. None of which detracts from the achievements of Smith et al and the general impression of a more cohesive and harmonious team. Amla looks the goods and should score 20 centuries with that technique and focus.

  • POSTED BY Raaid on | December 21, 2008, 20:19 GMT

    Good observation Nipun but you didn't mention West Indies chase against Sri Lanka @ Trinidad earlier this year.

  • POSTED BY Mahesh_AV on | December 21, 2008, 19:17 GMT

    A well written article with well deserved praise for the South Africa team. I wonder what is going through the mind of the erstwhile bullies!!! Is this a sign of another 'West Indies style' downfall for a team that seemed unbeatable so far? Still, being the 'bone cracking' gentlemen the fast bowlers of West Indies were, one felt sad for their team's downfall. I would not feel the same for the proud, arrogant and foul mouthed current no.1 test team.

  • POSTED BY Ellis on | December 21, 2008, 18:23 GMT

    Well done, South Africa! A once prominent sporting nation is finding it's feet again. Cricket, Rugby, Soccer and other sports are seeing world class achievements again. It is good for sport, good for the country, good for the world. South Africa deserved to win, while Australia fought every inch of the way. The lack of a consistently top class spinner is the main cause of their poor performances. Lee appears to be losing his speed, Clark is injured, and Johnson apart, the other pace bowlers lack penetration. Amla has improved greatly over the past year and looks a very good batsman. Very composed and correct. South Africa too lack a top class spinner and will have to fight very hard to win the series. A long way to go yet.

  • POSTED BY Nipun on | December 21, 2008, 16:53 GMT

    Oh my Goodness!We are having a hell of sexy test matches this year.SA vs ENGLAND @ Edgebuston,BANGLADESH vs NEW ZEALAND @ Chittagong,INDIA vs ENGLAND @ Chennai,& then this one,the most remarkable,SA vs AUSTRALIA @ Perth.Hearty congratulations to Graeme Smith & his boys.Particularly,I thought Smith was exceptional.Opposition captains are not renowned for taking on the Australians,but Smith,who found out that an Australian tour can be the most devastating cricketing tour in his earlier visit,has definitely made his statement in the most emphatic manner.His hundred was pivotal,because there's nothing more appealing to watch than the captain leading from the front.Now,if SA can keep their heads level,then there's no reason why they can't win the series.A similar hype was developed when ENGLAND took on AUSTRALIA in 2005,& we all know what happened next-a most magnificent test series.There's no reason why this series can't match the Ashes 2005 in terms of quality.Can't wait for the next test

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • POSTED BY Nipun on | December 21, 2008, 16:53 GMT

    Oh my Goodness!We are having a hell of sexy test matches this year.SA vs ENGLAND @ Edgebuston,BANGLADESH vs NEW ZEALAND @ Chittagong,INDIA vs ENGLAND @ Chennai,& then this one,the most remarkable,SA vs AUSTRALIA @ Perth.Hearty congratulations to Graeme Smith & his boys.Particularly,I thought Smith was exceptional.Opposition captains are not renowned for taking on the Australians,but Smith,who found out that an Australian tour can be the most devastating cricketing tour in his earlier visit,has definitely made his statement in the most emphatic manner.His hundred was pivotal,because there's nothing more appealing to watch than the captain leading from the front.Now,if SA can keep their heads level,then there's no reason why they can't win the series.A similar hype was developed when ENGLAND took on AUSTRALIA in 2005,& we all know what happened next-a most magnificent test series.There's no reason why this series can't match the Ashes 2005 in terms of quality.Can't wait for the next test

  • POSTED BY Ellis on | December 21, 2008, 18:23 GMT

    Well done, South Africa! A once prominent sporting nation is finding it's feet again. Cricket, Rugby, Soccer and other sports are seeing world class achievements again. It is good for sport, good for the country, good for the world. South Africa deserved to win, while Australia fought every inch of the way. The lack of a consistently top class spinner is the main cause of their poor performances. Lee appears to be losing his speed, Clark is injured, and Johnson apart, the other pace bowlers lack penetration. Amla has improved greatly over the past year and looks a very good batsman. Very composed and correct. South Africa too lack a top class spinner and will have to fight very hard to win the series. A long way to go yet.

  • POSTED BY Mahesh_AV on | December 21, 2008, 19:17 GMT

    A well written article with well deserved praise for the South Africa team. I wonder what is going through the mind of the erstwhile bullies!!! Is this a sign of another 'West Indies style' downfall for a team that seemed unbeatable so far? Still, being the 'bone cracking' gentlemen the fast bowlers of West Indies were, one felt sad for their team's downfall. I would not feel the same for the proud, arrogant and foul mouthed current no.1 test team.

  • POSTED BY Raaid on | December 21, 2008, 20:19 GMT

    Good observation Nipun but you didn't mention West Indies chase against Sri Lanka @ Trinidad earlier this year.

  • POSTED BY Firstdrop on | December 21, 2008, 20:26 GMT

    Congratulations to South Africa on an inspirational win and an absorbing contest. As an Australian I think that some of the cries for Ponting and other's heads are somewhat premature. After all this is a side that is rebuilding with a depleted attack and yet they contested strongly for four days, setting SA 414 to win in the fourth innings. There are some who take great delight at the gradual erosion of invincibility that this team has enjoyed but we should not forget the entertainment provided overthe years, and importantly the role played in setting a new standard of test cricket. Teams like SA, India and to a lesser extent England may have caught up but it's taken a few years. None of which detracts from the achievements of Smith et al and the general impression of a more cohesive and harmonious team. Amla looks the goods and should score 20 centuries with that technique and focus.

  • POSTED BY Sanchonz on | December 21, 2008, 20:32 GMT

    With test cricket this entertaining, who needs 20/20s?

  • POSTED BY sri1ram on | December 21, 2008, 22:40 GMT

    At least now Australian fans should be convinced that India should have won the series in Australia 2:1 if not for Bucknor's antics at SCG! This current team is decidedly inferior to the one with Warne/Mcgrath. Now we know why Ozzies were at their venomous worst that game because they would have thrown off the #1 status 6 months to a year in advance.

  • POSTED BY mrajana on | December 22, 2008, 0:58 GMT

    A thrilling and well deserved victory! A gritty performance by the Springboks signalling the end of Aussie domination of the sport. It was unexpected, totally uncharacteristic of SA based on their recent performances and out of the blue. Australians have to look to rebuild their team and their tarnished reputation. Right now they are looking like paper tigers.

  • POSTED BY Rusty_1 on | December 22, 2008, 2:29 GMT

    Congrats to SA from an Aussie supporter. truthfully, when SA was set >400 to win in the final innings, I though there was no chance at all. Smith & De Villiers the stand outs, with Kallis up there - remember: here was a guy coming into this series with no runs or form with the bat. The poor form for the Aussie Bowlers (Johnson excepted) & Haydos continue for the Aussies. Changes need to ne made to the Aussies. Bollinger MUST come in for Siddle (bollinger being the leading domestic wicket-taker in the strongest domestic comp in the world with 45 victims at an average of 15) & the Kreja experiment needs to come to an end.

  • POSTED BY jasjot99 on | December 22, 2008, 2:42 GMT

    at Nipun - "Oh my Goodness!We are having a hell of sexy test matches this year."

    well said mate! couldn't agree with you more!