Match of My Life July 7, 2011

'Every ball was really felt'

Allan Donald
When South Africa set Australia 117 to win in Sydney in 1994, few gave the visitors a chance. They won by five runs
43

The Sydney Test in 1994 is my choice of the best Test I played in - because of the way in which South Africa came back and won. We had set Australia a target of 117 to win and we defended it.

There was a lot of talk about the pitch before the match started, and Shane Warne even said something to the effect of: it doesn't matter what score South Africa get in the second innings, it won't be enough. He got 12 wickets in the match, so he had a bit to talk about.

I remember when I was batting in the second innings with Jonty [Rhodes], he kept saying to me, "Just stay there for a few more minutes and we'll win the match." I got 10 and he made 76, and while we were at the wicket we could see that it was getting harder and harder to hit the ball through the line. The highlight was when Jonty hit Craig McDermott for a six and took 16 off the over.

The first time we thought we might have a chance when we were bowling was when Fanie [de Villiers] came back for his second spell and got David Boon, Tim May and Mark Taylor in the space of five runs. They were 63 for 4 overnight, so they only needed about 50 the next morning, but we said we'd come back and have a fresh start in the morning, because we don't know what they will be like then. The wicket was getting slower and lower, and it was just starting to reverse-swing a little.

We went to the Aussie dressing room for a drink after play on the fourth day - we would always have an end-of-day drink in the batting side's change room - and Mark Waugh said something I will never forget. "Just put a couple of plebs in there, toss it up, and let's get this match over with," he said. He meant that we should let guys that don't bowl too often have a bowl. It's things like those that you don't forget.

I went back to the hotel and I said to my wife that we probably had an outside chance but we'd need a bit of luck on the final day. Kepler [Wessels] called us all into a meeting, although he wasn't going to be on the field on day five, because of a broken thumb, and Hansie [Cronje] was the acting captain. Kepler said that if, in the first hour, we bowled anything like what we were capable of bowling, and squeezed them for runs, we could win it.

When we went into the Australian dressing room for a drink, Mark Waugh said, "Just put a couple of plebs in there, toss it up, and let's get this match over with." Things like those you don't forget

When I bowled Allan Border with the second ball on the last morning, I thought that could be a turning point.

After that wicket, Hansie's qualities as a leader really come through. The way he moved the field around and squeezed the Aussies from both ends was superb.

I then got Mark Waugh out lbw. I thought that we were getting within reach. There weren't many people in the stadium at that stage. I think everyone thought that the Aussies would come and read us the last rites in the morning, but when that wicket fell and then Ian Healy dragged one on off Fanie, it started to fill up a little bit.

All that while, Damien Martyn was hanging on for dear life. He couldn't score a run, and I remember thinking that I was glad we didn't have to bat on that pitch on the last day. Eventually he chased a wide half volley and was caught by Andrew Hudson at cover. And that seemed to be the end of him. He didn't play for six years after that.

We only had the tail left but I was worried about McDermott. He came in and played the right way, hitting his shots, and he could have won the game for them. But Warne took a silly single. Fanie was trying to york him and Warnie hit it to long-on, where Gary Kirsten was fielding. He wanted the run but he couldn't get back in time. It ended shortly after that, when Glenn McGrath hit a slower ball back to Fanie.

Of all the Tests I've played, that was the one with the most pressure. It was the most exciting day of Test cricket I have been involved in. Every ball was really felt. At that stage Kepler was still the captain, but the way Hansie handled the last day was a sign of how he would lead. He was very smart and very calm, and it showed when he took over the captaincy shortly after.

As told to Firdose Moonda

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Romanticstud on July 8, 2011, 10:59 GMT

    It was a mystery that South Africa won that test match, as their record at Sydney was not so good ... One of their poorest performances in an ODI in Australia came there ... And it was also Australia's choice of venue against us ... They beat us there on a number of occasions ...

  • on July 8, 2011, 8:05 GMT

    I just cant forget that game. It was totally awesome. Fanie and Donald won it for SAF. Look on Glenn Mcgrath after getting out.

  • Quazar on July 8, 2011, 6:51 GMT

    @jagan...the Eden Test is unforgettable for sure. But while it was VVS and Harbhajan's Test, you seem to forget Sachin's crucial bowling spell on Day 5 in the last 2 sessions...where he got the big scalps of Hayden and Gilchrist, and then picked up Warnie with a googly!

  • on July 8, 2011, 4:36 GMT

    Allan Donald was the greatest fast bowler of his times...Dale Steyn seems to follow in his footsteps...

  • Meety on July 8, 2011, 1:51 GMT

    @AGARTALA_11 - nope, I will stick with the other 3. The Mumbai game was more of a farce than anything else. Mohali doesn't count in my mind because the series should never have been played. It was a distraction prior to the Ashes. The 2 you mentioned - well played India, but they don't bother me like the others. -- -- -- @smudgeon - the bizarre thing about the final day was IF i remember correctly, the commentators were at times applauding Martyn for playing the "sheet anchor" role so McDermott could play his shots. It was madness. Absolute briliance by the Saffas & 7 yrs in the wildeness for Damo!

  • on July 7, 2011, 17:01 GMT

    thats what the champs do , never give up!

  • OutCast on July 7, 2011, 16:54 GMT

    Of course Donald Duck is a legend, but the real legend is Hansie... I admired at his qualities and he was the most complete captain in the 90's... unfortunately, he became greedy and lost everything from there...

  • on July 7, 2011, 16:14 GMT

    Even i remember the game . Great game of self belief . Not only Allan, but every SA bowler were on the target. Fannie was awesome to watch. Last two days of that test match were amazing .

  • harshthakor on July 7, 2011, 15:49 GMT

    One of the most fascinating test matches of modern times where the sprinboks prevailed in a nailbiter.Infact there was a repetitive tendency for Australia to choke or lose the test matches with close finishes .Australia almost always lost these closely fought tests.

  • on July 7, 2011, 15:47 GMT

    After the fourth days play, I left the country to go on my honeymoon. I only found out the result one week later, sitting in a dug out canoe, far up some muddy river in Fiji. Unbelievable. I heard all about it for more than a decade, but didn't see Marto's dismissal till YouTube arrived.

  • Romanticstud on July 8, 2011, 10:59 GMT

    It was a mystery that South Africa won that test match, as their record at Sydney was not so good ... One of their poorest performances in an ODI in Australia came there ... And it was also Australia's choice of venue against us ... They beat us there on a number of occasions ...

  • on July 8, 2011, 8:05 GMT

    I just cant forget that game. It was totally awesome. Fanie and Donald won it for SAF. Look on Glenn Mcgrath after getting out.

  • Quazar on July 8, 2011, 6:51 GMT

    @jagan...the Eden Test is unforgettable for sure. But while it was VVS and Harbhajan's Test, you seem to forget Sachin's crucial bowling spell on Day 5 in the last 2 sessions...where he got the big scalps of Hayden and Gilchrist, and then picked up Warnie with a googly!

  • on July 8, 2011, 4:36 GMT

    Allan Donald was the greatest fast bowler of his times...Dale Steyn seems to follow in his footsteps...

  • Meety on July 8, 2011, 1:51 GMT

    @AGARTALA_11 - nope, I will stick with the other 3. The Mumbai game was more of a farce than anything else. Mohali doesn't count in my mind because the series should never have been played. It was a distraction prior to the Ashes. The 2 you mentioned - well played India, but they don't bother me like the others. -- -- -- @smudgeon - the bizarre thing about the final day was IF i remember correctly, the commentators were at times applauding Martyn for playing the "sheet anchor" role so McDermott could play his shots. It was madness. Absolute briliance by the Saffas & 7 yrs in the wildeness for Damo!

  • on July 7, 2011, 17:01 GMT

    thats what the champs do , never give up!

  • OutCast on July 7, 2011, 16:54 GMT

    Of course Donald Duck is a legend, but the real legend is Hansie... I admired at his qualities and he was the most complete captain in the 90's... unfortunately, he became greedy and lost everything from there...

  • on July 7, 2011, 16:14 GMT

    Even i remember the game . Great game of self belief . Not only Allan, but every SA bowler were on the target. Fannie was awesome to watch. Last two days of that test match were amazing .

  • harshthakor on July 7, 2011, 15:49 GMT

    One of the most fascinating test matches of modern times where the sprinboks prevailed in a nailbiter.Infact there was a repetitive tendency for Australia to choke or lose the test matches with close finishes .Australia almost always lost these closely fought tests.

  • on July 7, 2011, 15:47 GMT

    After the fourth days play, I left the country to go on my honeymoon. I only found out the result one week later, sitting in a dug out canoe, far up some muddy river in Fiji. Unbelievable. I heard all about it for more than a decade, but didn't see Marto's dismissal till YouTube arrived.

  • harshthakor on July 7, 2011, 15:44 GMT

    One of the most fascinaing test matches of our times where the sprinboks held their nerves unlike may ocasions.Infact there was a tendency for Australia to lose the close fought finishes in test matches.

  • shakir23 on July 7, 2011, 14:48 GMT

    donald for me is the greatest fast bowler after the great kapil dev...no one can in this era match donald for his pace and and the accuracy he had and all those yorkers he bowled consistently with lighting pace...was a treat to watch

  • Nuxxy on July 7, 2011, 14:20 GMT

    @Amit: Firstly, we don't know if Donald's words were edited; and secondly, if anyone from the SA team in those days had to mention a proviso when they spoke about Hansie, they would spend little time speaking about anything else. He was a huge part of the team...sometimes it felt like he was selected purely for his captaincy, and the measure of shock after his admission is proof of just how highly he was viewed. Mark Taylor, Hansie Cronje, Stephen Fleming - the last 3 captains who were good tactically and didn't just resort to that "I lead by example" nonsense.

  • Punter_28 on July 7, 2011, 13:57 GMT

    The Ozzies always have had problems in chasing 100 + targets... Vs. India At Melbourne 1981; that famous Botham Leeds test 1981; vs. India in 2004;this test... somehow, they are jinxed with 100 + last innings chases!!!

  • humbaikar on July 7, 2011, 13:43 GMT

    Please if anyone has post youtube or any other web links of this match !!! What a game !

  • on July 7, 2011, 13:42 GMT

    @Saffalicious - I remember that Pakistan game too, but I'm pretty sure Pat Symcox's "bowled" was on the first day, not the last. SA were in all sorts of trouble when Symcox joined Gary Kirsten. At one point Symcox charged down the wicket to Mushtaq Ahmed but missed it by a country mile. The ball passed between the stumps without touching them. Symcox went on to a career best (at that time) 80-odd, with Kirsten carrying his bat for 100*. SA then went on to win the test, also defending a small total on the last day. I think Polly took a bunch of wickets? With that win, SA also won the series. I think it was the first time a foreign team had won a test series in Pakistan in quite a few years?

  • on July 7, 2011, 12:31 GMT

    @ Ronsars: Really dude??? Sachin didn't lead us to any tense Test victories??? What about the 2003-04 series against Australia, the final test in Mumbai?? he scored a half century which helped us set the Aussies a target of just above 100 and win... What abt the England series in 2008 when he got a century on the last ball and India won???... and what about the famous test of Chennai in 1999, when he battled the whole inning thru back pain, and aftr he got out, last 3 wickets cud not evn score 17 runs??? He hasnt got much success coz in the first decade, when he was playing, he hardly had any support... his first test century was to ensure draw against england... second and WACA was a lone effort... evn in the same 2001 series, he scored a century in the last test which was also a tense finish btw!!!

  • ARNAB-11 on July 7, 2011, 11:55 GMT

    @Meety : Make it 5now, i think u also shouldn't forget Mumbai 2004 where u guys folded for 93 chasing 107 & losing by 13runs apart from Mohali 2010 where u lost by 1wicket

  • on July 7, 2011, 11:44 GMT

    superb bowler allan donald

  • Ronsars on July 7, 2011, 10:50 GMT

    @ jagan77 :Ya even i would love to hear what VVS would say about that test & Sachin???I don't think he led us to any tense victories in test @Allan:Very well written must have been a great match

  • on July 7, 2011, 9:45 GMT

    this was a great game! Another of Donald's Favourite Test was South Africa's win in Pakistan defending a 120 odd on the final day... another great comeback...

  • Saffalicious on July 7, 2011, 9:18 GMT

    @hhb186 I would also disagree. SA have won some absolute corkers in all formats and have a particularly good record coming from the dead against Aus. Who would forget THAT run chase, or Duminy and Dale Steyn in the recent series that SA won down under when no one gave them a hope. This test though remains in my top 3 with the one against Pakistan where Pat Symcox was "bowled" on the final day where the ball went between the stumps and the bails stayed up. If my memory is correct, Sumcox stuck around and SA salvaged an unlikely draw.

  • HLANGL on July 7, 2011, 9:08 GMT

    I still remember this game, though I only saw the scorecard of it in one of those news papers in Sri Lanka the day after the game won by SA. What a great fast bowler Fanie De Villiers would have become had he not retired quite prematurely. He could have easily taken 300 wickets in tests & could have formed a very vital partnership with Allan Donald. He did, yea, but it was limited to only 2-3 years due to his premature retirement. Fanie De Villiars had been a master of moving the ball at quite a decent pace, thus making him one of the most difficult propositions for the batsmen to deal with. Bett Shultz was the other from SA, Sri Lankans found him to be devastating even in their own slow backyard in '93. It's quite a shame that both these bowlers didn't quite achieve what they should have achieved at the highest level.

  • smudgeon on July 7, 2011, 8:56 GMT

    @hhb186 - thanks for the link, it was a blast watching that again. Two things strike me: how awesome a bowler Donald was (that yorker to remove Mark Waugh was sublime), and how good a batsman Craig McDermott (apparently) was :)

  • on July 7, 2011, 8:36 GMT

    I have only one reservation about this article. Allan Donald does not seem to lose one opportunity to praise Hansie Cronje. No problems in praising a man's good qualities but its always good to put things in perspective. If he had said something along the lines - "Hansie's qualities as a leader came to the fore, but its such a shame that along the way in his career he chose the wrong path" - it might not have left such a bad taste in the mouth. We cannot forget how Hansie, Azhar and the lot have tainted our beloved game. People who want to wish away the past would be doing a great injustice, because that opens up the way to committing the same mistakes again.

  • Quazar on July 7, 2011, 8:31 GMT

    @hhb... let's be fair. Aside from WCs, SA have been tremendous in both Tests and ODIs. And don't forget their contribution in 2 of the greatest ODIs of all time - the 438 game and the 1999 WC SF.

  • on July 7, 2011, 8:11 GMT

    I was 10 when this game was played. My uncle came over and said "Hey its free entry today at SCG". On account of they were'nt expecting a full days play. So we went down. Then it happened...

  • Quazar on July 7, 2011, 8:06 GMT

    Great article. I didn't see this match, but can feel the excitement through Allan Donald's words!

  • Doogius on July 7, 2011, 8:00 GMT

    I was there day 4. When the last SA wicket fell at around 4 ish, said to the missus, lets stick and watch Oz bat for 30mins then beat the crowd to the carpark. Oz cruised till around 5, then we left. I remember getting to the gates and hearing the crowd roar, 1 down. Just outside the ground, another roar, 2 down and got to my car (600m from the ground) another roar and 3 down. Turned the radio on and got to listen to no.4. I swore the whole way home. Still thought it was a nobrainer on day 5. Then Marto forgot how to score runs and it was downhill from there. Test Cricket - Nothing beats it.... :)

  • on July 7, 2011, 7:47 GMT

    @hhb186, I beg to differ, yes at World Cups they have been poor, but have showed a lot of fight in Test cricket since the above mentioned Test

  • jagan77 on July 7, 2011, 7:21 GMT

    Would love to hear what VVS woud say about such a match in Kolkata. Cant say of sachin though.

  • on July 7, 2011, 7:15 GMT

    Very few teams could, Tanmay Tiwari.

  • hhb186 on July 7, 2011, 7:02 GMT

    Searched a lot for this link ... got it finally ... One of the best matches ever ... Always refer to this match to see the steel in SA but I guess, they never rose again like this against adversity ..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEwioYsFVo8&feature=related

  • on July 7, 2011, 6:54 GMT

    Definitely one of my favourite test memories. My brother and I woke up in the early hours of the morning to watch it, and he was still in the kitchen making the coffee when Border's wicket fell and I was shouting the house down!

    However, I think Allan's memory of Shane Warne's run-out is a bit hazy. I recall that Damien Martyn drove one through cover, with Hansie chasing after it from mid-off. He slid and threw on the turn, completely blind. Fanie was waiting behind the stumps at the bowler's end, but the ball hit the stumps direct, with a diving Warne about a foot short of completing the second run.

  • on July 7, 2011, 6:47 GMT

    @inxia, I found some highlights on Youtube, the last day. I watched it last week

  • Meety on July 7, 2011, 6:17 GMT

    No, no, no! Don't drag this game up, I've been trying to forget it for over 15yrs! That loss, the 1 run loss in Adelaide against the Windies, (McDermott gloving Walsh), & the Kasper flick down the leg side in the 2005 Ashes are the 3 Tests I would most love to forget!

  • Danube on July 7, 2011, 6:01 GMT

    Yes, remember that tense final day, yet another small run chase that we failed in! Interesting insight from one of the major players out there - good article Allan!

  • smudgeon on July 7, 2011, 4:30 GMT

    It was a corker of a final day. I remember going with my uncle for a few days of the match and the crowd were giving Fanie and Pat Symcox heaps of stick, but they were giving it back and it was all good-natured. My uncle and I were some of those people who didn't turn up on the last day because of the assumption that 117 was an easy chase. I was glued to the TV that morning, and I remember the look on Damien Martyn's face when he got out (poor sod!) - I was jumping up and down by the end of it, the pressure & intensity were unbearable! For a few weeks there, I think Fanie de Villiers was my favourite cricketer, and nearly everyone I know tried to copy his bowling action (limited success). One of the few matches that really sticks in my head!

  • inxia on July 7, 2011, 4:24 GMT

    This was one of the greatest Tests ever. And yet, I can't seem to find any video footage of it. Does anyone know if there is any videos available or any websites with archive footage? I haven't seen Fanie's caught and bowled to finish the match since the day it happened.

  • Arii25 on July 7, 2011, 4:16 GMT

    Very interesting article..................grt work cricinfo.............i wud like u guyz to get some more stories from these yesteryear superstars...........it wud be really interesting..

  • on July 7, 2011, 4:15 GMT

    Amazing story...just goes on to underline what might happen if you go with the nothing to lose and everything to gain attitude and the opposite for mark waugh

  • on July 7, 2011, 4:12 GMT

    An excellent bowler, a great man, remembering one of the great moments of the best cricket format, the test matches... Great to read that piece of golden memory

  • on July 7, 2011, 4:05 GMT

    Yeah that was a great performance. Although they couldn't win a single test in Aus. till 2008 after that :)

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  • on July 7, 2011, 4:05 GMT

    Yeah that was a great performance. Although they couldn't win a single test in Aus. till 2008 after that :)

  • on July 7, 2011, 4:12 GMT

    An excellent bowler, a great man, remembering one of the great moments of the best cricket format, the test matches... Great to read that piece of golden memory

  • on July 7, 2011, 4:15 GMT

    Amazing story...just goes on to underline what might happen if you go with the nothing to lose and everything to gain attitude and the opposite for mark waugh

  • Arii25 on July 7, 2011, 4:16 GMT

    Very interesting article..................grt work cricinfo.............i wud like u guyz to get some more stories from these yesteryear superstars...........it wud be really interesting..

  • inxia on July 7, 2011, 4:24 GMT

    This was one of the greatest Tests ever. And yet, I can't seem to find any video footage of it. Does anyone know if there is any videos available or any websites with archive footage? I haven't seen Fanie's caught and bowled to finish the match since the day it happened.

  • smudgeon on July 7, 2011, 4:30 GMT

    It was a corker of a final day. I remember going with my uncle for a few days of the match and the crowd were giving Fanie and Pat Symcox heaps of stick, but they were giving it back and it was all good-natured. My uncle and I were some of those people who didn't turn up on the last day because of the assumption that 117 was an easy chase. I was glued to the TV that morning, and I remember the look on Damien Martyn's face when he got out (poor sod!) - I was jumping up and down by the end of it, the pressure & intensity were unbearable! For a few weeks there, I think Fanie de Villiers was my favourite cricketer, and nearly everyone I know tried to copy his bowling action (limited success). One of the few matches that really sticks in my head!

  • Danube on July 7, 2011, 6:01 GMT

    Yes, remember that tense final day, yet another small run chase that we failed in! Interesting insight from one of the major players out there - good article Allan!

  • Meety on July 7, 2011, 6:17 GMT

    No, no, no! Don't drag this game up, I've been trying to forget it for over 15yrs! That loss, the 1 run loss in Adelaide against the Windies, (McDermott gloving Walsh), & the Kasper flick down the leg side in the 2005 Ashes are the 3 Tests I would most love to forget!

  • on July 7, 2011, 6:47 GMT

    @inxia, I found some highlights on Youtube, the last day. I watched it last week

  • on July 7, 2011, 6:54 GMT

    Definitely one of my favourite test memories. My brother and I woke up in the early hours of the morning to watch it, and he was still in the kitchen making the coffee when Border's wicket fell and I was shouting the house down!

    However, I think Allan's memory of Shane Warne's run-out is a bit hazy. I recall that Damien Martyn drove one through cover, with Hansie chasing after it from mid-off. He slid and threw on the turn, completely blind. Fanie was waiting behind the stumps at the bowler's end, but the ball hit the stumps direct, with a diving Warne about a foot short of completing the second run.