No. 26 June 14, 2009

Donald bowls Border

Trevor Chesterfield
de Villiers was on fire; then White Lightning came to the party

Sydney, 6 January 1994

When they recall events of South Africa's great victory over Australia in Sydney in 1994, it is the image of Fanie de Villiers and his bowling, and of how his 6 for 43 became the architect of that impossible five-run conquest.

All too often forgotten, however, is how Allan Donald initially played the more important role on that final morning of omnipresent midsummer heat, sweating players, and struggling firefighters against the backdrop of a smoke-smudged horizon. As bushfires ringed the city and 16,000 were given free access to the SCG, Allan Border, on 7, stood four-square in defiance: 54 runs adrift of the 117 needed to win, and Australia resuming at 63 for 4. The crowd buzzed, confident Border and Mark Waugh would deliver them an expected 1-0 series lead.

Kepler Wessels, nursing an injured knee and broken finger, and his deputy Hansie Cronje, had that final morning discussed with Donald a strategy of how to combat Border's threat. Wessels had once played in the Australian team and knew a trick or two.

Donald pounded in to deliver the second ball of the morning. Expecting an away-going delivery, Border padded up, lifting his bat - only, the ball sliced back off the seam with enough bounce to whip off the off-stump bail; little wonder Border stood transfixed and disbelieving. For the South Africans there were scenes of elation and a whooping, excited arm-waving Donald. The stark impact of Border's dismissal lifted South Africa's adrenalin and fractured Australia's dressing-room psyche.