Cricket: SA’s Oz-beating heroes celebrate

2008-12-30 00:00

The Proteas, with some style and composure, yesterday went where no South African cricketers have been before when they demolished the Australians by nine wickets in the second Test at the MCG.

The victory completed one of the more remarkable turnarounds in Test cricket history and took the South Africans to their first Test series win in Australia.

The crushing win — which followed the history-making run-chase in Perth — gave Graeme Smith’s team an unassailable two-nil lead in the three-Test series.

No one could have predicted the victory on a dark day two when South Africa were 141 for six in their first innnings, still 253 behind and battling to avoid the follow-on.

But JP Duminy’s 166 and Dale Steyn’s heroics with bat and ball turned the contest on its head and the South Africans yeterday eased to a nine-wicket win.

Former SA opening batsman Andrew Hudson was one of many to pay tribute to Smith’s team.

“You have to look at it in context. No one has won there in 17 years so, irrespective of South Africa achieving it, it has been a phenomenal effort that any touring side has had such an emphatic win …

“Both Tests could have gone either way, so it was an amazing effort to win. People are talking about the series, which is great for cricket in general,” he told News24.

Former coach Eric Simons said the Australians simply folded.

“I think the biggest thing is that Australia lost both Tests from winning positions. Credit must go to JP Duminy, Dale Steyn and the top order, but I think the bigger story is what Australia hasn’t done.”

The South Africans are now looking at a series whitewash with the third Test starting this weekend and Simons is confident.

“Australia have taken a knock and our boys will believe they can win from anywhere. There has been a huge shift in world cricket.”

Smith, who continued his excellent form with a brisk 75, agreed the balance of power is shifting and added that 2008 was South Africa’s most memorable year.

“It’s got to be the best — no disrespect for what’s gone before us.

“But I think for us it’s got to be the most incredible season South African cricket has ever had, to sit here with the results we’ve got. I don’t think anyone could argue with that.

“Credit to Australia, they’ve dominated cricket for a decade and it doesn’t mean that they’re going to be easier to beat. But I think the balance has evened out a little.”

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