South Africa v Australia, 1st Test, Cape Town, 2nd day November 10, 2011

South Africa ahead after incomprehensible day


South Africa 81 for 1 (Smith 36*, Amla 29*) and 96 (Watson 5-17, Harris 4-33) need 155 runs to beat Australia 284 (Clarke 151, Steyn 4-55) and 47 (Philander 5-15, Morkel 3-9)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

South Africa's batsmen were on course for a most extraordinary Test victory by stumps after Australia had contrived to be splintered for 47, and in doing so kick away a dominant position on an incomprehensible second day at Newlands.

In all, 23 wickets fell for 294 runs, 19 of them in an uninterrupted landslide of skilful bowling and abject batting between lunch and the first hour after tea.

Australia's 47 was their lowest total since 1902 and fourth lowest of all time, overshadowing the fact that South Africa had themselves been routed for a comparatively bountiful 96 in the afternoon, and left the hosts with a target of only 236 having given up a first-innings lead of 188.

Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla played with poise and power in the chase, demonstrating that the Cape Town surface was far from the treacherous strip it had appeared when the Australians batted a second time. In what must have felt to the tourists like the final insult, Amla sliced the final ball of the day to gully, where Michael Hussey dropped it.

The cascade of wickets added further lustre to a monumental 151 by the Australian captain Michael Clarke, who had shepherded the tail on the second morning to reach an ultimately handsome total of 284 from the overnight tally of 214 for 8. But he and his team will now feel aghast at how they have managed to surrender so much hard-won ground in a single innings.

After Clarke's masterclass, a staggering spell from Shane Watson, and a merely excellent one from Ryan Harris appeared to have placed the match in Australia's keeping. But they were 13 for three by tea and lost a frantic 6 for 8 on resumption.

Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel were the chief executioners for South Africa, bowling magnificently in helpful conditions, but it must be said they had plenty of help from the batsmen.

At 21 for 9, Australia were still five short of the lowest innings in Test history, but Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon put their batting counterparts to shame with a last-wicket stand of 26. Their determination contrasted with the unbridled panic of others on a pitch that, while difficult, was never so poor as to be threatening the slimmest total in Tests.

Morkel had Phillip Hughes and Hussey edging consecutive balls either side of the break into the slip cordon. Philander swung and seamed the ball to continue the most striking of debuts, but was helped by a handful of ordinary shots from Australia's batsmen.

The worst of these was played by the wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, an ugly smear at a ball nowhere near the line or length to attack, and the rest either edged deliveries that seamed away or simply missed others that fizzed unerringly towards the stumps.

Until Siddle and Lyon came together, there was no semblance of calm shown by the visiting batsmen. Australia appeared to be unsettled significantly by the back stiffness that forced Shaun Marsh out of No. 3 in the order. He eventually shuffled to the middle at eight down, in obvious pain, and was lbw second ball.

Jacques Rudolph began neatly in the company of Smith, adding 27 before he pushed at a Siddle delivery going across him and was taken behind. It was Australia's only success in 17 overs, only one fewer than the whole of their second innings.

Such a plot twist seemed unfathomable when Watson and Harris were tearing through South Africa in the hour after lunch. Aided by a seaming pitch and alert use of the DRS, Watson and Harris orchestrated a tumble of wickets that, at the time, felt definitive. The hosts surrendered 9 wickets for 47 runs, momentarily looking as though they might fall short of the follow-on mark when 83 for 9.

Watson transformed what had previously been a quite sedate start to South Africa's innings in the first over after lunch. His second ball struck Hashim Amla in front, and the batsman was given out on referral to the third umpire. Jacques Kallis' miscalculated a pull shot off the sixth ball, that lobbed into the slips off bat and body. As with Amla, he was given out on referral to television.

A handful of overs later Watson did for Graeme Smith, knocking a seaming delivery back onto his stumps, and next ball Ashwell Prince was palpably lbw to a full delivery that swung back in. AB de Villiers fell next, bat and pad wedged closely together but adjacent, and lbw to Harris on referral. Watson had a fifth wicket inside four overs when Mark Boucher was pinned lbw on the back foot - his referral would be unsuccessful.

Vernon Philander edged to third slip, Morne Morkel was run out by Peter Siddle's direct hit while taking a haywire single - the day's only wicket not taken by a fast bowler - and after the briefest of nuisance stands, Imran Tahir was bowled by Harris.

In the morning session there had been little indication of the tumult to follow. Resuming at 214 for 8 in front of a sparse crowd, Clarke and Siddle showed the intent to score, but might both have been out inside half an hour. Philander's first ball of the day flew off the edge of Clarke's bat through second slip, but Graeme Smith hadn't posted one. Siddle had only five when Steyn found his edge towards backward point, where Tahir allowed the chance to slip completely through his fingers as he tumbled forward.

The batsmen made South Africa curse these early misses, playing with level eyes, plenty of enterprise and some luck to add 59 in all, the second highest partnership of the innings. Clarke went on to turn his century into a truly momentous score, responsible for comfortably more than half of his side's total. As it transpired, in one knock he easily scored more than what both sides would manage in the second and third innings of the match.

Eventually Siddle miscued Morkel to cover, and the last man Lyon hung around while Clarke fired off two more boundaries to pass 150. Clarke lost his leg stump when trying to swing Morkel for another, but he walked off knowing he had given his men a chance.

Marsh's place in the field was taken by the 12th man Trent Copeland, whose demotion from the XI meant Mitchell Johnson shared the new ball with Harris. There was little early movement, the sun arriving to coincide with the start of the South African innings, and after two expensive overs Johnson was withdrawn without delivering a ball to Smith, with whom he was expected to have a mini-battle.

Harris worked into a typically exacting spell. Moving the ball a little both ways, he made Rudolph use his bat, and eventually the batsman played around one that straightened the merest fraction to pluck out off stump. Amla and Smith made it through to lunch, but obliteration waited on the other side of the interval - for both sides.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 11, 2011, 11:06 GMT

    what the guys from the sub-continent are trying to say is that just as this wasn't as bad a wicket as the batsmen made it look, the dusty turners that every one criticizes aren't as bad as they r made to look because those not from the subcontinent r incompetent players of spin.....

    and if the pitch swings and seams a "bit" from day 1-5 it's ok, but if it starts turning on day 1 it's substandard??????

    just imagine for a moment that this was india v/s england at eden gardens instead of sa v/s aus..... and if england would have been dismissed for 47 because their batsmen r clueless against spin... how many of u can honestly say that the british media wouldn't have been making a hue and cry abt the pitch!!!!!!

  • Venkat on November 11, 2011, 10:57 GMT

    If this was the Pakistan team instead of Australia, the ICC ACU sleuths and the gossip press will have their hands and mouths full. Anyway the Aussies played like Bermuda or a Canada and deserved this fate.

  • Dummy4 on November 11, 2011, 10:49 GMT

    The most incredible match in the history of test cricket! Who says Test Cricket is boring! bring it on!!Both sides can hold their heads high! coming back from almost avoiding a follow on, SA turned it around defying all odds... This is the way test cricket and wickets should be... it should be bowler friendly.... Now lets talk about who's the best batsman in the world? For all the T20 only fans(i guess you'll never read this, as u don;t watch test cricket)- you missed the best in cricket. For all you purists - Love live test cricket!!

  • rama on November 11, 2011, 10:48 GMT

    Now who z going to complain about pitch!!!!!!! When a test match is completed in two and half days in India, the opppsite captains will complain about pitch but if it z in southafrica means they will say that fantastic display of fast bowling!!!!!!!! what is dz injustice!! When batsmen n bowlers are capable of adapting conditions they can perform well every where!!!! johnson getting 5 wickets in australia z not great similar to bhajji taking 5 in india!!!See at zaheer n vettori can bowl n pick wickets in any part of world!!!!!!!plz dont blame any thing simply!!!!!!!!!

  • John on November 11, 2011, 10:36 GMT

    @shovwar - Statistically England have the best bowling attack if you look at the ICC rankings even if SA have undisputedly the best bowler in the world.

  • Dummy4 on November 11, 2011, 10:33 GMT

    Mark Taylor may have already said this, but i say this too i missed few of the maddest moments of cricket.

  • John on November 11, 2011, 10:25 GMT

    As an England fan I have mixed feelings on who I want to win the match. I quite like SA , but I believe if they win 2-0 they take over at number 1 , but then again you'd have to give them so much credit for fighting back from a near 200 run 1st inns deficit. It's certainly not all over now and it seems the sort of game where one wicket can lead to a cluster of wickets and there could be more twists and turns before the end. Despite some negative comms from a few crybabies , I'd say that cricket is an entertainment business and no one can say this test is anything other than entertaining.

  • John on November 11, 2011, 10:25 GMT

    @Gupta.Ankur - SA struggled too and Aus struggled more. No one was making reference to India re this but if you want to dig up old debates . India consistently struggled in England. This is just one innings/one match. And what has England got to do with this match?

  • Nilantha on November 11, 2011, 10:21 GMT

    OMG, australia's second innings card looks like an international dialling code !! superb bowling from Philander but also Morkel whose lengths are what make him so dangerous...On a different note, the DRS system highlighted the pathetic level of umpiring in this match..doctrove imho is the weakest umpire in the "elite" panel and the standard so far in this match has been terrible..thank goodness for the DRS..umpires who continually have a error rate in decisions higher than a set level should be replaced...

  • Adrian on November 11, 2011, 10:19 GMT

    I was there to watch Australia's first innings at the MCG last boxing day. I didn't think we could get any worse - looks like the rebuilding phase isn't over just yet. I wonder if Argus is looking for more work?

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