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England in South Africa: Seven memorable modern-day Tests


South_Africa_England_Test_CricketSince their readmission in 1991, South Africa have played 21 home Tests against England, winning six and losing six. Though it has been a keenly-fought duel, the Proteas have not won a home series against England since their 2-1 success in 1999-00. As another edition of the Basil D’Oliveira Trophy unfolds with the first of four Tests at Centurion, here is a look back at seven memorable contests played between the two teams in the rainbow nation during the last 24 years.

Atherton plays a captain’s knock – Second Test, Johannesburg, 1995-96

The five-match series resumed after a rainy draw at Centurion. Andrew Hudson fell for a duck to Dominic Cork (5/84) early, but Gary Kirsten scored a measured 110, on the way adding 137 for the third wicket with Daryll Cullinan (69), to steer the total towards 332. England replied feebly (Robin Smith top-scoring with 52) to concede a lead of 132. Boosted by Brian McMillan (100*), Cullinan (61) and Jonty Rhodes (57), the hosts declared at 346/9 before lunch on the fourth day.

When the final day began, England were 167/4 with captain Michael Atherton on 82*. Smith was fifth out at 232, which brought wicketkeeper Jack Russell – who took a world-record 11 catches in the Test – to the middle with about four and a half hours left. The duo defied doggedly to put on a match-saving 119* in 277 minutes, carrying England to 351/5. While Atherton batted for 643 minutes to score a career-best 185* in 492 balls, Russell faced 235 balls for his vital 29*.

Kirsten’s marathon rescue act – Third Test, Durban, 1999-00

Leading the five-match series 1-0, South Africa were blunted by a fourth-wicket stand of 156 between captain Nasser Hussain (146) and wicketkeeper Alec Stewart (94), which led England to declare at 366/9 at the end of the second day. Andy Caddick (7/46) produced a career-best return thereafter, as the Proteas were bowled out for 156. The scoreboard read 84/8 at one point, before Shaun Pollock hit a breezy 64. Following on, South Africa were 27/0 at the end of the third day.

A resolute Kirsten was grit personified – the left-handed opener added 152 for the second wicket with Jacques Kallis (69), and was on 126* out of 251/4 when the fourth day ended. On the final day, he put on 192 for the fifth wicket with Mark Boucher (108) and 101 for the sixth with Lance Klusener, en route to an epic 275 in 642 balls (equalling the national record held by Cullinan) that propelled his team to 572/7. His innings lasted for 878 minutes – the second longest in Tests.

An extraordinary consolation win – Fifth Test, Centurion, 1999-00

England had already lost the rubber by virtue of innings defeats at Johannesburg and Cape Town. Their pacers reduced South Africa to 155/6, at which point rain intervened - the second, third and fourth days were washed out. South African captain Hansie Cronje approached Hussain before the last day’s play, offering to ‘make a game of it’ by suggesting to forfeit the second and third innings. Hussain declined at first, expressing concern about the pitch, but soon changed his mind.

Served by Klusener’s 61*, South Africa declared at 248/8, after which innings were forfeited for the first time in Test history. Needing 249 in 76 overs, England slipped to 102/4 before Stewart (73) and Michael Vaughan (69) put on 126 for the fifth wicket. Despite a late wobble, the visitors won by two wickets with only five balls to spare. Five months later, Cronje admitted that he had received money and a leather jacket from a bookie to contrive a positive result in the Test.

Trescothick and Hoggard steal the show – Fourth Test, Johannesburg, 2004-05

The five-match series was poised at 1-1 ahead of this encounter. Andrew Strauss, playing in his birth city, led England’s charge by scoring 147 and sharing in a second-wicket stand of 182 with Robert Key (82). Strauss’ wicket initiated a collapse from 262/2 to 278/7, but captain Vaughan (83*) revived the innings before declaring at 411/8. Herschelle Gibbs answered with 161, and his sixth-wicket stand of 120 with Boucher (64) was crucial in giving South Africa an eight-run lead.

Marcus Trescothick dazzled after Strauss was out for a duck in the second innings, compiling a stroke-filled 180. Vaughan (54) declared at 332/9, thus setting South Africa 325 to win in about 68 overs. Matthew Hoggard, having taken 5/144 in the first innings, gave a fine exhibition of swing bowling en route to 7/61, and despite the efforts of Gibbs (98) and skipper Graeme Smith (67*), who batted at number eight owing to a concussion, South Africa were bowled out for 247.

A narrow escape for England (1) - First Test, Centurion, 2009-10

South Africa had regained the Basil D’Oliveira Trophy away in 2008, and began their defence by posting a total of 418, which revolved around a fifth-wicket stand of 124 between Kallis (120) and JP Duminy (56). Off-spinner Graeme Swann returned figures of 5/110. Swann also starred with the bat – batting at number nine, he scored 85, dominating a ninth-wicket stand of 106 with James Anderson that limited South Africa’s lead to 62. Left-arm spinner Paul Harris took 5/123.

Anderson (4/73) reduced the hosts to 45/4, but Hashim Amla (100), AB de Villiers (64) and Boucher (63) allowed Smith to declare at 301/7 late on the fourth day. England crashed to 27/3, before Jonathan Trott (81) and Kevin Pietersen (69) raised 145 for the fourth wicket. Debutant Friedel de Wet (4/55) struck thrice to send the score from 205/4 to 207/8, which further became 218/9 with 19 balls still to go. To England’s relief, Paul Collingwood and Graham Onions saved the Test.

A narrow escape for England (2) – Third Test, Cape Town, 2009-10

England arrived in Cape Town buoyed by an innings win at Durban, which gave them a 1-0 lead in the four-match series. South Africa slid to 51/3 after being inserted, and that they reached 291 owed a lot to a masterly 108 from Kallis. Anderson was the wrecker-in-chief with 5/63. The hosts gained a narrow 18-run lead due to pacemen Morne Morkel (5/75) and Dale Steyn (4/74). England’s top-scorers were Alastair Cook (65) and Matt Prior (76), who rescued them from 73/4.

South Africa declared at 447/7 before tea on the fourth day; Smith scoring 183 and sharing 230 with Amla (95) for the second wicket. At 160/5 with 70 overs left, it was looking bleak for England. Collingwood and Ian Bell (78) added 112 for the sixth wicket, before the former’s loss led to a collapse of four for 18. For the second time in three weeks, the focus was on Onions, who joined Swann with 17 balls left. Once again, the last-wicket pair held out to secure the draw.

Broad’s sensational burst – Third Test, Johannesburg, 2015-16

South Africa had a new captain in de Villiers – Amla had resigned from the role prior to the Test. Their total of 313 provided the first instance of all eleven batsmen reaching double figures in a Test innings without any of them scoring a fifty. Spearheaded by Kagiso Rabada (5/78), South Africa’s pacers had England, who were ahead by 1-0 in the four-match series, at 91/4, before Joe Root (110) and Ben Stokes (58) added 111 for the fifth wicket, paving the way for a total of 323.

South Africa were 23/0 in the second session of the third day when Stuart Broad had Dean Elgar caught behind. What followed was mayhem, as the lanky fast bowler proceeded to capture five wickets for one run in 31 balls during a stunning spell, leaving South Africa in tatters at 35/5. He fittingly took the last wicket to finish with 6/17, ensuring that the hosts were skittled for a paltry 83 just after tea. England duly cruised to a series-sealing seven-wicket win before the day ended.

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Rustom Deboo is a cricket aficionado and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of T...

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