At Johannesburg, February 22, 23, 24. Australia won by an innings and 360 runs. Toss: Australia.
Test debut: A. G. Prince.
After three savage beatings in Australia, South Africa came home to something worse - the
second-heaviest defeat in Test history. A single moment summed up the crushing superiority of
Australia and the brilliance of their star, Adam Gilchrist. It came when he took a pot shot at an
advertising hoarding offering a bar of gold, worth 1.3 million rand (over £80,000), for a direct
hit. The sponsor, a local gold mine, hardly seemed in danger: the billboard was 30 feet in the air
and well behind the deep mid-wicket boundary, a carry of at least 100 yards.
Gilchrist was 169, and had butchered the entire front-line attack, which badly missed the injured
Pollock. With McKenzie bowling gentle medium-pace, he could resist no longer. Like a golfer
hitting a wedge approach shot, he scooped a length delivery towards the target - and started to
jump up and down as he realised how close it would be. He missed by a couple of feet, but what
remained of South Africa's spirit was broken. Gilchrist was playing with them like a cat keeping
a half-dead mouse alive for entertainment. And it was only the second day of the series.
The carnage had started the day before with Hayden's fourth century in as many Tests. He was
only the eighth player to produce such a purple patch, though the fourth Australian after Don
Bradman, who did it three times, Jack Fingleton and Neil Harvey. South Africa had a chance to
dam the flow in Ntini's first over when Hayden offered a straightforward catch to second slip.
Kallis dropped it, and Hayden blossomed with a muscular display of strokes that brought 18 fours
and a pair of sixes. Ntini and Nel tried hard to be hard but were left cowering by his power. A
torn hamstring forced Donald off the field, but it could not be blamed for South Africa's inability
to compete. Although he trapped Langer with a clever, slow off-cutter, Donald conceded 72 runs
in 15.2 overs before his body announced it would no longer play the game for more than a day
at a time. He retired from Test cricket after the match.
Even so, Australia's dominance was not quite assured on Hayden's departure at 272 for four.
Martyn set out with studious care, taking 130 balls over his first fifty. Like everyone else, he was
mesmerised by Gilchrist. But he picked up the tempo as the bowlers sagged drunkenly; his second
fifty took only 37 balls, and he went on to a Test-best 133. He was never more than the junior
partner, however, in a stand of 317, the second-highest for the sixth wicket in Test history, after
Fingleton and Bradman's 346 against England in 1936-37. The afternoon session yielded 190 runs
at 7.45 an over: it was dizzying to watch.
Gilchrist reached 200 four balls after tea, with his 19th four from his 212th delivery. For three
weeks, it was the quickest Test double in terms of balls, beating Ian Botham's (220 balls) against
India at The Oval in 1982. Gilchrist faced one further ball, for a single which raised his highest
first-class score, 204 in 293 minutes. He smashed eight sixes, including the one that almost struck
gold. Steve Waugh declared at the end of the over on 652 for seven, Australia's highest score
against these opponents.
South Africa were so far past relief it was shocking. Not one of them had seen anything like
this five-session mauling, and the effect on morale was all too clear. Ashwell Prince marked his
debut with a sometimes belligerent 49, defying the pressures of batting at No. 3, but there was
little else. They were dismissed in 48 overs for 159 and followed on 493 behind. It was a new
low in South African history - but the second innings was even shorter. During the third day, they
lost 16 wickets in 54.3 overs, to go down by an innings and 360 runs. The margin was second
only to Australia's own beating, by an innings and 579, at The Oval in 1938.
McGrath and Warne bowled beautifully to enforce their stranglehold over the batsmen. Time
after time, they had shown they could take bagfuls of wickets without even being at their best,
but here they were close to it. Warne's six wickets took him past Richard Hadlee and Kapil Dev
to 438 in Tests, second only to Courtney Walsh, while McGrath wound up the game with four in
But if it is possible for a batsman to win a Test in the first innings, Gilchrist did it. Even the
parochial, normally hostile crowd were punched into submission by one of the finest, most
entertaining and consistently aggressive innings ever played in Test cricket.
Man of the Match: A. C. Gilchrist.