Cape Town – South
Africa’s Boxing Day Test match against Pakistan at Centurion marks a
particularly auspicious occasion in the country’s cricket history: 10 years
since their first ever Test series triumph in Australia.
It was in
the equivalent-period contest of the 2008/09 season, at the faraway and
imposing Melbourne Cricket Ground, that Graeme Smith’s inspired charges took a
shock, but decisive 2-0 lead in the three-Test series to confirm the snapping a
bogey stretching back to 1910/11 on Aussie soil.
Mickey Arthur -- ironically now on the Pakistan balcony -- the Proteas
especially stunned the MCG festive-season faithful because they engineered the
victory from a truly backs-to-the-wall situation against Ricky Ponting’s home
seemed for all money, earlier in the pulsating contest, as if the Baggy Greens
were hurtling toward a levelling triumph, instead, after SA’s series-opening
victory in Perth.
Australia’s bulky first knock of 394, the Proteas had wilted to 184 for seven –
still in some peril of a follow-on – before possibly their most titanic,
game-swaying tail-end fightback of all time.
willow-wielders Paul Harris and Morne Morkel played their fulsome part, too,
but the really big, Aussie ego-popping event was a remarkable alliance of 180
for the ninth wicket between JP Duminy, playing only his second Test match, and
fast bowler Dale Steyn.
register what continue to be their career-best scores in the five-day format:
Duminy 166 as last man out and Steyn 76. Suddenly the tourists had posted a
fairy-tale 459 and established a stranglehold they would never really loosen
from that point onward – they romped to a dazzling nine-wicket win.
top for what remains his most complete showing in an illustrious Test career,
the still-active “Phalaborwa Express” earned man-of-the-match by posting respective
five-fors (match figures 10/154).
Here is a
reminder of the troops who masterminded that sensational victory, with an
update on what they’re up to a decade onward …
Day Test: 62 & 75
runs at 65.20
left-hander quit international cricket rather suddenly in 2014, during a home
Test series against Australia, after leading the Proteas for more than 10 years
and from the unprecedented age of 22. Nowadays he is a popular, assertive
presence in television commentary booths around the globe and also began
dabbling in the business landscape by launching his “Biff’s Big 6” firewood
product. He has also been doing his bit recently for Aids awareness.
Day Test: 0 & 59no
runs at 24.20
who switched successfully to the top of the Test order for SA fairly late in
his career after a longer stint in the middle berths, retired from all forms of
cricket in early 2016, although he had quit the international landscape some
six years earlier. Immediately expressing his desire to continue serving the
game, he had a spell as the Proteas’ batting coach and more recently has been
batting consultant to the Bangladesh national team.
Day Test: 19 & 30no
runs at 51.80
It is widely
expected that the still-active Amla will end his international career after a
final crack at a World Cup in England in the middle of 2019. For the first
time, however, in recent months, doubts have been expressed about whether the
once metronomic runs-accumulator – he has been on the top-flight treadmill for
around 14 years -- will even make it that far after a marked pattern of
personal statistical decline in both Test and limited-overs cricket. The home,
all-formats series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka this summer will be important
in the ace right-hander quelling (or not) those fears.
Day Test: 26 & DNB; 1/55 & 2/57
runs at 37.40; 7 wickets at 38.28
all-rounder played his poignant final Test for the Proteas against India at Kingsmead
in late December 2013 and his final one-day international a few months later.
He stayed on the Twenty20 franchise circuit until 2016. Although his main
obsession since retirement appears to have been golf (certainly based on his
occasional social media posts), he has not been completely lost to cricket,
where he currently serves as head coach for IPL side the Kolkata Knight Riders.
He also remains enthusiastic figurehead of the Jacques Kallis Scholarship
Foundation, for learners from disadvantaged backgrounds.
AB de Villiers
Day Test: 7 & DNB
runs at 60.75
Still one of
the biggest drawcards in the game, the dashing right-handed batsman dropped a
bombshell by retiring from international cricket – via his official Twitter
page – several months ago. Rumours inevitably still swirl that he might have a
rethink ahead of CWC 2019, although that may be based more on hope among his
many devotees than expectation. In the meantime, De Villiers has stayed active
on the T20 circuit, including leading the Tshwane Spartans recently in the
inaugural Mzansi Super League.
Day Test: 166 & DNB
runs at 61.50; 1 wicket at 14.00
signalled his intention to quit all multi-day cricket in September last year,
to focus instead on his ongoing lustre for the white-ball fare. Although
injured for the duration of the inaugural MSL (when he did some SABC TV
commentary), the experienced “finisher” and useful off-spin bowler is expected
to be back at his ODI post for the Pakistan and Sri Lanka challenges, and then
also for the World Cup.
Day Test: 3 & DNB
runs at 30.50
record-hogging wicketkeeper and nuggety batsman was forced into premature
retirement from all cricket after a freak accident on the 2012 SA tour of
England, where a flying bail seriously injured his left eye during a match
against county side Somerset. But after a stint as wicketkeeping coaching
consultant with Kolkata Knight Riders, he earned the head-coach mantle at the
Titans in 2016 – a role he still commands.
Day Test: 21 & DNB; 1/89 & 2/46
wickets at 42.66; 62 runs at 15.50
pace bowler was almost certainly in the form of his life when he stepped down from
the international fray after an influential role in the 3-1 home Test series triumph
over Australia last season. But he has continued to look a reinvigorated figure
– no doubt to the regret of many compatriots – in a new role with Surrey in
county cricket; he helped mastermind their advance to the Championship title (first
time since 2002) in 2018. He is also active on the global T20 circuit.
Day Test: 39 & DNB; 1/38 & 0/47
wickets at 38.70; 47 runs at 11.75
under-rated for the run-choking job he did at one end while the Proteas’
seamers prospered in turns at the other, the tall left-arm spinner played his
last of 37 Tests, following a four-year career at that level, in 2011. Two
years later the Harare-born competitor completed his first-class service with
the Titans. Currently also an astute television pundit and commentator, Harris
is involved professionally in Celbux, a banking software company.
Day Test: 76 & DNB; 5/87 & 5/67
wickets at 26.16; 118 runs at 29.50
architect of the famous MCG win, Steyn has defied many glass-half-empty
observers who felt there would be no way back from his serious bowling-shoulder
injury issues that laid him low for lengthy periods over the past two years or
so. Instead he has looked very close to his best again, and will be drooling at
the prospect of being let loose on Pakistan and Sri Lanka on home soil over the
next three months.
Day Test: 2no & DNB; 2/108 & 1/26
wickets at 50.00; 35 runs (no dismissals, no average)
One of the
beating hearts of the Proteas’ attack at both Test and one-day international
level for a period of more than a decade, the “Mdingi Express” finally chugged
into the sunset from a highest-level perspective in early 2011. He kept going
for the Warriors at domestic level for a little longer, but more recently has
had spells as a TV commentator and also in coaching: he was bowling and interim
coach with the Zimbabwe national team before being asked to step down. He also
heads the Makhaya Ntini Academy near East London and recently popped up briefly
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