South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Port Elizabeth, 4th day February 23, 2014

Damn you, day five

The light was faded. Dale Steyn was bowled into the ground. There was one wicket to take. The forecast for Monday was awful. The ball was thrown to Dean Elgar ...

The first ball after tea, Alex Doolan edged Vernon Philander behind to AB de Villiers. It could be out, it should be out, but the cameras say it could have bounced. Then Doolan edges to slip, and it doesn't carry either. Doolan looks like a walking nicker. Finally Morne Morkel gets an edge from him that carries.

Shaun Marsh comes and goes, for a pair. He has now scored less than four in more than half his Test innings. On other days, this would be talked about much.

Michael Clarke has not made runs since Adelaide. He edges first ball. It doesn't carry. You have to really earn a caught behind right now. Steyn's first over after tea. He looks like that Dale Steyn. Angry and hungry. Clarke just guides one to slip after being worked over by reverse swing. Smith barely arrives at the crease and is out.

At 126 without loss it sounded like de Villiers was shouting "150 for 4 here". De Villiers was wrong, it was 156 for 4. With four wickets down, you could smell the fifth day fading.

South Africa were now throwing it all on the line, Australia's saviour in the Ashes was allowed on strike with fielders on the boundary for Chris Rogers. Oh, Rogers, he had barely scored. He had barely looked like going out. He was just there.

Steyn could virtually taste Brad Haddin's wicket. After four balls of strike, he removed his middle stump with a ball Haddin knew where it would pitch, with a ball Haddin knew how it would swing, with a ball that Haddin could have predicted an hour before it happened. Haddin still lost his middle stump.

Mitch came out with his massive batting average against South Africa. Mitch missed a short swinging delivery from Steyn by roughly 4.7 kilometres. Then he had a ball pole vault out of the footmarks and take the shoulder of the bat. Mitch was being attacked by ground and foot.

Smith was now so sure this was the last day he was throwing reviews away. The fifth day was dead to everyone.

Johnson stays out of the line to one from Philander. He tricks Richard Illingworth, but South Africa review anyway; damn you day five. They are right. Johnson is out.

Steyn is down on his haunches at square leg after his last couple of bouncers, barely breathing. He has bowled nine overs, he looks like he has bowled a hundred. You just know he will try bowl another

South Africa have given up on bowling out Rogers. So Steyn bowls wide to Rogers to keep him off strike. It is called a wide. Morkel hits something down the leg side so South Africa throw another review at it: not out. The umpires are staying pretty sharp despite the yelling and craziness. The clouds are now encroaching on the pitch like a Fritz Lang baddie.

How many wickets down do you need to be to enforce the extra half an hour? Everyone has a different answer. It's not a real thing. It could be seven, maybe its eight. But Ryan Harris and Rogers look settled as the minutes creep up to 1759, one minute from the normal close.

Morkel is down the leg side again, he seems to be working to some sort of leg-side-or-be-damned plan. This time Rogers has wood on it, de Villiers has dived like a superhero. But did it carry? South Africa think yes. Has it bounced, maybe, yes, maybe no. The sun seems to be on every TV screen in the ground, the glare makes people doubt themselves. While it is all happening, it is beyond six. It's either bounced or been foreshortened. Will that be it?

Aleem Dar decides it is not out. But the umpires on the field decide that the extra half an hour can be called. Rogers is livid, he complains uselessly. He deserves it to be the close of play. Australia and South Africa deserve to have an extra half hour.

Steyn is bowling to Harris, and there is another edge down the leg side that is almost caught. Then Harris hits the ball into the ground, it bounces high in the air (higher than any delivery in the match), it is not going near the stumps, but he hits it away, and does it very badly. It hits the back of his bat and almost goes onto the stumps.

Two balls later Steyn hits Harris high and leg side. South Africa are convinced it is out. Kumar Dharmasena takes forever to compute, then he gives it out. Harris reviews. It is still out. Only just. Harris keeps looking at Dharmasena as he walks off.

Rogers faces a full over from JP Duminy. Perhaps he's bowling to get through the over quickly to allow Steyn a go at Peter Siddle. He cannot get off strike. The last ball he tries to take a run, but decides only a run out would happen. So he says no. The sun goes behind a cloud. It suddenly gets very dark.

Siddle gets stuck with Steyn. An inside edge happens, but safely. Then Siddle hits out on the off side, he takes the single, as Duminy stops it by flopping on the ball with his ribs. He can barely breathe. The phsyio comes out, but there is no time, he is sent back. The light metre comes out, and South Africa can't knock that back. Duminy is in massive pain. He keeps running into the wrong position because he can't listen to anyone through the pain. He's taking up seconds and light.

Steyn gets angry and smashes Rogers in the back of the helmet and it goes for four leg byes. He wants Rogers on strike so Philander can bowl to Siddle. He wins. Steyn is down on his haunches at square leg after his last couple of bouncers, barely breathing. He has bowled nine overs, he looks like he has bowled a hundred. You just know he will try bowl another.

Siddle handles Philander very well. Very, very well. It now looks like Steyn or nothing.

Rogers faces Duminy, who has done well to recover, but both teams are playing like tomorrow will not happen. Rogers pushes the ball wide of mid-off, to the right of Alviro Petersen, who earlier in the session was fielding like he was in a coma. Now he is awake, picks it up, flicks it and hits the stumps. It looks out. South Africa are sure it is. The first replays show Rogers well short when the ball hits the stump. South Africa get the thumbs up and celebrate. But for drama, the bail takes a year to come off. Dar has noticed this. It takes maybe two years for the bail to come off. And in that time, maybe Rogers is in. There are about 27 replays. Dar has seen enough, he gives it out.

Rogers, who played with ease alongside David Warner, and then hung on to the wreckage of the Australian order to stay afloat has run himself out in the dark, in the final minutes. Steyn, as exhausted as he is, runs over and shakes his hand. So does Smith.

It is Siddle and Nathan Lyon, better than most Nos. 10 and 11. They can bat. They are okay. They need to face less than two overs. It is now darker than before. Siddle does well against Duminy to end the over. He even pushes into the covers for a two.

At the other end Steyn takes off his hat, goes to the end of his mark. He will give it one more over. But Illingworth and Dharmasena are alternating on who they help. They decide it is too dark. Instead of facing Steyn, Lyon will face Dean Elgar. The man who called himself a pie chucker at the end of the first day. Left-arm orthodox. The very opposite of Steyn in practically every way.

The first ball is an actual pie, and Lyon had enough time to eat it. The second ball is better, but Lyon plays it well. The third is a quicker ball, it's wide and full and Lyon just leaves. The fourth, the fourth.

It is short of a length on the stumps, it spins, it holds up, Lyon is hit on the pad. Lyon is OUT. SOUTH AFRICA WIN. DEAN ELGAR HAS TAKEN A WICKET.

Lyon stands there as Elgar mounts his team-mates, they laugh, they smile, Lyon stares. Unimportant replay show a possible edge and problems with height.

Thirty minutes later, Lyon is in the changing room, still staring, still unable to change anything.

South Africa have won. Dean Elgar has taken the wicket.

In 36.4 overs, South Africa have taken nine wickets. They have beaten Australia. They have beaten the apocalyptic rain. And they have made Lyon stare.

Jarrod Kimber was 50% of the Two Chucks, and is the mind responsible for

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Tshepiso on February 28, 2014, 9:06 GMT

    "Steyn could virtually taste Brad Haddin's wicket. After four balls of strike, he removed his middle stump with a ball Haddin knew where it would pitch, with a ball Haddin knew how it would swing, with a ball that Haddin could have predicted an hour before it happened. Haddin still lost his middle stump."

    What great piece of article, I always enjoy reading Jarrod's writing, he tells a story better than anyone I know. He brings life to a story. This one reminds me of the one he wrote after England CHOKED against India in the Champions Trophy last year. Keep it up Jarrod, your writings are truly a work of ART!!!

    I AM YOUR FAN!!!

  • Grant on February 25, 2014, 3:57 GMT

    SA were irresistible. Reverse swing, close LBW's and a close run-out, two golden ducks. And Australia were cruising at 4 an over, 120 without loss.

    Which Australia will turn up for the 3rd Test, or have they just been collared and exposed for being not much more than plucky and lucky?

    Next Test: Watson at 3, Clarke at 4: these 2 need to stand up and lead, it hasn't been fair on Doolan and Marsh against the No1's. And try one of Pattinson or Bird.

    But if Steyn continues to reverse its 'goodnight nurse'.

  • Warks on February 25, 2014, 0:52 GMT

    Aus were just obliging by ensuring there was a result in case it rained on day 5. No point winning the series 2-0 and taking the interest out of Newlands. Third Test decider for a change. How good will it be? A few different players will step up this time for both sides. The captains may finally get some runs.

    Isn't this great for cricket?

  • Rajaram on February 24, 2014, 22:06 GMT

    The onfield umpires had no business to declare an extra half hour of play considering the dark and that we had 3 wickets.Clearly, they wanted South Africa to win at any cost. Sic.

  • Sharad on February 24, 2014, 19:57 GMT

    Woke up at 5am USA Central Standard Time, saw the scoreline was 126 for 0. My first thought was "This is easily going into the 5th day so might as well sleep". But my instincts made me check again an hour later (just before tea). 156 for 4. Alright, maybe I should wake up. Sleep took over. But then in a flash of inspiration, I woke up again

    6 DOWN!!

    Sleep be damned. I feel bad I missed the great Steyn burst but I watch it the rest of the way and my confidence in the future of test cricket has been restored

  • muhammad on February 24, 2014, 19:47 GMT

    great article.just like a fantastic story.loved every bit of this article.

  • Peter on February 24, 2014, 18:57 GMT

    Very well written Jarrod. Despite being an Ausie I still think that u wright the most entertaining articles.

    Anyway to all the australians who think that it was unfair to extend the play, it IS TOTALLY FAIR according to the rules of cricket. SA did deserve 2 win.

  • Gerald on February 24, 2014, 18:27 GMT

    @Mitty2 - Rubbish. There is no rule that says there has to be 1 wicket remaining. The rules states that the umpires must think a result is possible. Stop talking rubbish.

  • Jay on February 24, 2014, 14:06 GMT

    @JFAB Here are the answers to all your questions:

    "SA deserved to win but. Why can you play till 6.30 when on any other day, no matter how far overs are behind you absolutely stop at 6"... ICC regulations state that any game can be extended or extra 30 minutes if the overs have not been completed. Another law states that if a result is evident, umpires can give the team an extra half hour. (This half hour equates to a minimum of 8 overs. This is to avoid teams slowing up just like Australia did a number of times in this game when sessions were ending.)

    The umpires do not make a decision thinking like you state. If no wicket has fallen or 30 minutes, it doesn't mean another wont fall in next 30 min. They just followed the law regardless of who was on the crease.

    If you have a problem with 3 hours sessions, go back to the Ashes in England. Nearly every series in England has an extended last session of 3 hours.

    By the way it didn't rain in PE today. Youve run out of excuses?

  • Dummy4 on February 24, 2014, 13:44 GMT

    The only thing that was bad about this test match was the poor quality of umpiring. Too many wrong decisions! Australians have been brought down to earth and they must have realized that if the MJ threat is neutralized they are not that good a team. Harris seems tired and needs some rest. he is not used to playing so many test matches on the trot. Siddle is okay but cannot carry a bowling attack. The more worrisome part is the Australian batting. Apart from Warner and Smith no one has shown any consistency across the Ashes and this series. Haddin and Rogers are on their last legs. Clarke needs to step up if they have to have a chance in the decider.

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