Proteas send records tumbling at Oval

23 July 2012

The first cricket test between South Africa and England at The Oval, even with a day to go, has delivered a host of records for the Proteas, including the first ever triple-century by a South African in a test match, thanks to Hashim Amla.

There was little to indicate that a torrent of records would fall in the game after the first two days.

Having elected to bat, England finished day one on 267 for 3. On day two, they were bowled out for 385 and the Proteas ended play on 86 for 1. From day three, the records began to tumble.

Century in 100th test

It began with captain Graeme Smith, who became only the seventh man in history to score a century in his 100th test, and the first South African to achieve the feat. His 131 put him in the illustrious company of Colin Cowdrey, Gordon Greenidge, Javed Miandad, Alec Stewart, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Ricky Ponting.

After Alviro Petersen had been lost for a duck, Smith and Amla combined for 259 runs for the second wicket, a record for the Proteas against England.

When Smith fell with the total on 260, Amla was joined by Jacques Kallis, South Africa’s all-time leading run scorer. Between them, Smith, Amla and Kallis represent three of the most mentally tough cricketers in the game and they proved it in this game.

Toothless

Having begun the third day on 86 for 1, the Proteas ended it on 403 for 2, with Amla on on 183 and Kallis on 82. England’s vaunted bowling attack had proved toothless in the face of the application of the pair, who exhibited rock-solid technique and fantastic powers of concentration.

Matters did not improve for England on day four as their four frontline bowlers each conceded more than 100 runs. For the first time in 36 tests, they gave up more than 500 runs.

By the time South Africa declared at tea, they had reached 637 for 2, which was the fewest wickets lost for a 600-plus score in test match history.

South African record

Amla had surpassed AB de Villiers’ South African record of 278 not out to end on 311 not out, making him the first South African to score 300 runs in tests.

It was the fourth highest score in a test in England and the second highest at The Oval, trailing only Sir Len Hutton’s famous 364 against Australia in 1938.

Amla batted for the better part of two days for his 311. His innings last 13 hours and nine minutes, making him one of only four batsmen to have two innings of over 11 hours in test history, the others being Brian Lara, Mahela Jayawardene and Younis Khan.

Second longest innings

Incidently, the second longest innings in terms of time batted in test history belongs to Proteas’ coach Gary Kirsten, who batted for 14 hours and 38 minutes when he made 275 against England in Durban in 1999. He batted for 10 minutes short of 11 hours in compiling 210 against England in Manchester in 1998.

Kallis, very quietly, notched his highest score against England in England, finishing on an impressive 182 not out, which was devoid of any drama. It was his 43rd test century, second only to Sachin Tendulkar in the history of test cricket.

Together, Kallis and Amla added an unbroken 377, the highest partnership yet in South Africa versus England tests and the third highest ever in the Proteas’ history, trailing only the 415 Smith and Neil McKenzie put on for the opening wicket against Bangladesh in 2008, and the unbroken 429 between Jacques Rudolph and Boeta Dippenaar against Bangladesh in 2003.

With all due respect to the batsmen involved in those two stands, the 377 against England must rank more highly, given the strength of the opposition, which is currently ranked as number one in test cricket in the world, although they were made to look a distant second to South Africa on Sunday.

200 run partnerships

It marked the sixth time that Kallis and Amla have shared in a 200 run partnership, taking them level with the world record held by the former Australian opening pair of Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer.

It was also the 20th time that Kallis has been involved in a 200 run partnership, which is a world record.

England had never before had two consecutive 200 run partnerships scored against them.

In fact, both partnerships exceeded 250 runs, making it only the second time that has happened in a test, following Australia’s achievement of the feat in their 659 for 4 against India in January in Sydney when Michael Clarke scored a triple-century.

‘A sensational performance’

Cricket South Africa released a statement from acting CEO Jacques Faul at the end of the fourth day’s play, which read: “This has been a sensational performance by our top order, but Hashim has to be singled out for first breaking AB de Villiers’ record of 278 not out and then going on to join the 300 club.

“The Proteas have produced outstanding batting performances over the years, but an innings of 300 has been the one thing missing from the top order’s CV and it is wonderful that Hashim has put that to rest.

“Hashim’s contribution to South African cricket has gone far beyond the runs he has put on the scoreboard. He remains a wonderful role model to our youth with the humility and dignity he displays on the field, his totally professional and focused approach on the field, and the manner in which he conducts himself both on and off the field.

“To round it off we have had our captain, Graeme Smith, scoring a century on his 100th Test match appearance and our acknowledged batting champion, Jacques Kallis, making his 43th Test match century. Hashim and Jacques have also equalled the performance of Graeme and Herschelle Gibbs in sharing three treble-century stands.”

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