Second Test Match

Australia v South Africa

Toss: South Africa.

Four years earlier, Warne had taken 12 wickets against South Africa at Sydney, but still lost, as Australia were beaten by five runs after collapsing for 111. There was no mistake this time, though: Warne took 11 wickets, including his 300th in Tests, six years to the day after his first: Ravi Shastri on January 5, 1992. This time the landmark victim was Kallis, bemused by a perfect top-spinner which dipped through his forward lunge. A quality ball for a quality batsman, Taylor called it. Warne was back to his best here after the disappointments of the First Test: the ball which removed Richardson in the first innings was a near-replica of the famous one which did for Mike Gatting at Old Trafford in 1993. And, with the close fielders backing him up well, another South African escape act proved impossible.

One slight regret for Warne was that few spectators witnessed the final act. Heavy rain on the fourth afternoon sent many home, and it was a surprise when the weather relented enough to allow the players back on. With the floodlights on for the third afternoon running, Australia pushed hard for a four-day victory, claiming the extra half-hour. They were rewarded when, with rain beginning again, Reiffel had Donald caught behind to seal an emphatic innings win.

South Africa had started slowly on a blameless pitch. They managed only 197 in 97 overs on the first day, the highlight being a perky maiden Test fifty from Gibbs, who had replaced Cullinan. Bevan, back in the side for Kasprowicz, looked rusty, but his unpredictable slow left-armers claimed two wickets - one when McMillan obligingly slogged a full toss to mid-on. Cronje lasted 335 minutes for his 88, but Warne worked his way through the lower order and a total of 287 looked at least 100 below par.

The Waughs put South Africa's score in perspective. Steve, in his 100th Test, disappointed his home supporters when he was out for 85, but Mark did complete his century, striking 12 fours and a big six off Symcox. The twins weathered an extremely rapid spell from Donald, who was bowling after a cortisone injection in his left ankle.

The loss of Kirsten and Cronje, the batsmen most likely to stage prolonged resistance, before lunch on the fourth day left South Africa staring at defeat. Apart from Kallis, whose 45 occupied 155 minutes, and Symcox, who enlivened the closing stages, rain was Australia's biggest worry. Thanks to the groundsmen and the floodlights - and the peerless Warne- they completed victory at 7.09 that evening.

The exciting finish made up for an accident-prone start. The match had begun 30 minutes late despite blazing sunshine because a pitch two strips away from the Test wicket had been over-watered by an inexperienced member of the ground staff. Then tenor Brian Gilbertson stopped midway through the South African national anthem, saying he could not hear the music properly and did not want to continue out of respect to the South Australian (sic) team.

It's amateur hour, groaned Sir Nicholas Shehadie, the former rugby international, now chairman of the SCG Trust. He thought it could get no worse - but he was wrong. Spectators who had been directed to an overflow car park, over a mile from the ground, were told that it would close at 4 p.m. because the attendant had to go home. This was later extended to 6 p.m. - but, because of the late start, play was scheduled to continue until 6.30. And, finally, the drinks buggy broke down on its first visit to the crease, and had to be pushed off by some of the players and umpire Willey.

Man of the Match: S. K. Warne. Attendance: 105,485.

Close of play: First day, South Africa 197-5 ( W. J. Cronje 56*, S. M. Pollock 1*); Second day, Australia 174-3 ( M. E. Waugh 78*, S. R. Waugh 18*); Third day, Australia 392-9 ( I. A. Healy 31*, G. D. McGrath 3*).

© John Wisden & Co