JOHANNESBURG - Independent Media cricket writer, Stuart Hess, has looked back at the biggest moments from the Proteas' drama-filled, history-making Test series win over Australia.
Aiden Markram: An authoritative performance in the first innings. The ball was struck sweetly, with style and panache. He’d made three hundreds before, but that was a statement innings and arrival of sorts for a player who looks like he’ll dominate the sport in the next decade. Virat Kohli is already a fan.
8-3-12-6: Everyone was settling in awaiting a big Australian fightback. Midway through the afternoon session? Tea perhaps? The Last session? And then 8-3-12-6 happened. It took about 55 minutes, every ball was an examination, the Australians failed. Professor Philander had left an indelible mark once more. 8-3-12-6, meant lunch wasn’t even reached on the last day.
There will be some who’ll remember Dean Elgar’s main contribution as being the fact that he faced 215 dot balls in his second innings as the home team set the Aussies a massive and impossible target. But the catch to end Tim Paine’s first innings was a highlight of the season, the sprint, the judgement, the sideways dive and then holding onto the ball. De Kock deserves applause too for his wonderful leg-side grab off Philander to help get rid of Khawaja in the first innings.
Morne Morkel, ensuring his last Test was one to remember: "I can’t really remember because I took quite a bit of painkillers and one or two injections. But it was very important for me to be on the field, I wanted to be on the field more than anything. I spoke to Doc (team manager Mohammed Moosajee) and I asked him what was the worst that could happen with my side if I kept pushing it and I was happy to keep doing it. I also knew that once I start bowling, if I let the muscle cool down, I’d be in trouble. Because I wasn’t running in at full speed, 100% intensity, I could go a little bit longer and strangely enough I was landing the ball in the right areasmaybe that is the way to go.”
Morkel: “In PE, I sat with Temba in the dugout and we had a nice chat about cricket; his cricket, he wanted to come back after his hand injury, wanting to to do well for the country. To then be out in the middle with him on 95.I was so hoping Keshav would build a partnership because the number of times in my career, I’ve batted with guys in the forties or the nineties, I mean oh my word. The worst thing I have the quality of Pat Cummins running in. I was confident I would be able to hang around with Temba, obviously I got a beauty of a ball. And then ya disappointment, I didn’t get the chance for the crowd to cheer for one more ‘Haydos’ boundary.”
Ottis Gibson, on the atmosphere in the South African dressing room since he’s come aboard as coach: “I came in, I’ve been myself, try and enjoy myself, have a bit of fun, try and take the pressure out of the dressing room - there’s enough pressure out on the cricket field so in the dressing room it’s quite relaxed and enjoyable. There’s rum and coke on the table - not at lunch time - there’s music in the dressing room, it’s quite a chilled out place.”