3 January 2013
During their ascent to the number one ranking in test cricket in 2012, South Africa’s Proteas enjoyed at least two days of overwhelming brilliance that will live on in memory. They had another of those days on day one of their first test of 2013 at Newlands in Cape Town on Wednesday.
In 2012, there was day three of the first test against England at The Oval in July when the Proteas went from 86 for 1 to 403 for 2, with Hashim Amla finishing it undefeated on 183, on his way to 311 not out, and Jacques Kallis 82 not out, on his way to 182 not out in South Africa’s intimidating total of 637 for 2 declared.
At the beginning of December, on day two in Perth, South Africa ran through Australia’s batting, bowling the hosts out for 163 after they began the day on 33 for 2. They then raced to 230 for 2 by the close of play, on their way to a huge total of 569 all out, which included 196 from Amla and 169 from AB de Villiers.
Both efforts stood out, but they were matched in Wednesday in Cape Town.
After Graeme Smith had lost the toss and New Zealand had elected to bat, the Proteas’ vaunted bowling attack ran roughshod through the Black Caps’ batting, dismissing them for 45 in less than 20 overs. During the course of the day, Dale Steyn and Jacques Kallis achieved memorable milestones too, and by the close of play South Africa were very convincingly in the driving seat on 252 for 3, with Alviro Petersen on 103 not out.
Vernon Philander had been an injury concern with a niggling hamstring problem, but he was passed fit to play and he proved his fitness in eye-opening fashion, capturing a remarkable 5 for 7 off six overs.
He claimed the first five wickets to fall in New Zealand’s innings, taking him to his eighth five-for in only 13 tests. His return was the sixth most economical five wicket haul in test history. Five of those were achieved before 1948.
‘As good as you’re ever likely to see’
“The spell we saw from Philander was as good a spell as you’re ever likely to see in Test cricket,” Black Caps’ captain Brendan McCullum told ESPN Cricinfo.
“He never missed his length and asked questions defensively. In terms of defending his stumps, he also managed to get the odd ball to kiss away. It was a real class spell and then [Morne] Morkel and [Dale] Steyn chipped in with their hostility.”
Steyn clean-bowled Doug Bracewell to pick up the seventh wicket of the innings and with it his 300th in test cricket. He reached the mark in his 61st test, behind only Dennis Lillee and Muttiah Muralitharan, and tied with Richard Hadlee and Malcolm Marshall.
Leading South African wicket takers
On the list of South African test wicket takers, he trails only Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini and Allan Donald. Steyn included, only 25 men have taken 300 test wickets.
Since August 2009, he has been the number one ranked test bowler in the world.
He went on to figures of 2 for 18, while Morne Morkel knocked over 3 for 14 as New Zealand, 45 all out, fell for the third lowest total in their history and the lowest test innings since 1974. In terms of balls faced, it was their shortest innings ever and the shortest innings in 116 years. Back then, cricket was a much lower scoring game, dominated by bowlers.
“Dale is a special talent,” Kallis said of Steyn. “It is a special moment for him to pick up his 300th wicket in front of his home crowd. I know he is proud of that achievement, as are we. It’s special to stand at slip and to watch how our attack operates.”
South Africa lost Graeme Smith in only the second over of their reply, but Hashim Amla and Alviro Petersen then put on 107 for the second wicket before Amla fell for 66 from only 74 deliveries. His dismissal brought Jacques Kallis to the wicket.
13 000 test runs
The great all-rounder fell a little short of his superb average at Newlands, matching Amla’s 66, but along the way, when he reached 20, he became only the fourth batsmen in the history of test cricket to reach 13 000 runs, joining Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Rahul Dravid in the elite club.
“I have come a long way since the first Test matches I have played,” Kallis said afterwards.
“I am fortunate enough that I can do it in front of my home crowd. I enjoy playing at Newlands. The public have been fantastic to me, to get an ovation like that certainly means a lot to me and these are special moments that will live forever with me.”
Tendulkar, with 15 645 runs, tops the list of test run scorers, but Ponting and Dravid, both retired, are just 348 and 248 runs ahead of Kallis on the list, meaning he will, barring injury or a spectacular loss of form, pass them this year.
With 282 wickets to his name, Kallis is also 30th on the all-time wicket takers’ list and his 192 catches have him in fourth place all-time, 18 short of Dravid’s number one mark of 210.
He is fifth on the list for matches in a career, having played in 159 since his debut way back in 1995.
By stumps, South Africa had reached 252 for 3, with Petersen on 103 and AB de Villiers on 19, giving them a lead of 207 runs and New Zealand the blackest of holes to climb out of.
It was a start enjoyed by the packed crowd at Newlands and one that, no doubt, pleased coach Gary Kirsten as the Proteas set about strengthening their grip on the number one ranking in 2013.
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