A five-day game?

In recent times Tests have been increasingly decided as early as the first day - or even the first session.

Wisden CricInfo staff
Test cricket used to be a five-day affair. Australia led the way in changing all that, and in recent times Tests have been increasingly decided as early as the first day - or even the first session. Australia did it in Sharjah when they left Pakistan for dead at 50 for 9 at lunch. Here are five other recent examples:
South Africa v England, Johannesburg, 1999-2000
Never has a Test been decided as early as this. Put in on an underprepared wicket by South Africa, England's new era under Duncan Fletcher was in tatters after just 17 balls, when they were reduced to 2 for 4. With four England captains back in the pavilion, England had only debutants Michael Vaughan and Chris Adams to stave off total humiliation. Somehow they limped to 122, but the match was lost by an innings.
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Sri Lanka v South Africa, Galle, 2000-01
It's not always bowlers who decide matches in the first session. When South Africa rocked up in Galle for Shaun Pollock's first Test as captain, they were hit by Hurricane Jayasuriya. He blazed to 96 not out at lunch - which Sri Lanka took at 145 for 0 - and eventually fell for a storming 148, off just 156 balls. With Muttiah Muralitharan snaring 13 wickets, South Africa were thrashed by an innings.
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Australia v England, Perth, 1998-99
England's first Ashes mission had been accomplished when they got out of Brisbane with a draw, but any hopes of a competitive series were shattered in one session on the Perth trampoline. In the seventh over England were 4 for 2, and they took lunch at a desperate 76 for 6. Eventually bowled out in 39 overs, they lost by seven wickets inside three days.

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Sri Lanka v Australia, Kandy, 1999-2000
Sometimes the Aussies can be the victims too. They were caught completely cold at the start of their Sri Lankan tour. The two openers, Michael Slater and Greg Blewett, failed to score, and with Chaminda Vaas and Nuwan Zoysa running riot, Australia were soon 60 for 7. They recovered to 188, but any hopes of a comeback were shattered, along with Jason Gillespie's leg and Steve Waugh's nose, when the pair collided going for a catch and ended up in hospital.

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Australia v England, Brisbane, 1994-95
The earliest Ashes victory in history - after just one ball. Phil DeFreitas dropped short, Michael Slater clouted him for four, and the tone was decisively set for both match and series. Slater rampaged to 176 before falling to the oldest trick in the book (c Gatting b Gooch), and at the close the Aussies were 329 for 4. Another Ashes campaign bit the dust.
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Rob Smyth is assistant editor of