JOHANNESBURG – An inspired spell from Vernon Philander on the final day of the fourth Sunfoil Test, saw South Africa surge to an historic series win against Australia here on Tuesday morning.
The Proteas wrapped up a 3-1 series win, beating Australia by 492 runs, the second largest margin of defeat in terms of runs they have suffered and the fourth largest of all time in the Test format.
It was the perfect way to end an historic series triumph, South Africa’s first against Australia for 48 years, and the first in the past isolation era, which has encompassed eight series’s.
Philander registered career best figures of 6/21, eclipsing the 6/42 he picked up against India at Newlands in January.
All six of those wickets came in a stunning 55-minute burst from the Corlett Drive End, with Australia, despite talk fighting for a draw capitulating in just 16.4 overs in the morning and losing their last seven wickets for just 31 runs.
Philander picked up the wickets of the March brothers in the first over of the morning; Shaun caught in the gully after the ball looped from the pad via inside edge, while Mitchell edge a beautiful outswinger into the wicket-keeper’s gloves.
Philander became the sixth South African to 200 wickets, when he dismissed Peter Handscomb, bowled off the inside edge for the second time in the match, and at the same he also registered his 50th wicket against Australia in just his 14th Test against them.
Australian skipper Tim Paine edged another one that seamed away off pitch and was caught behind by Quinton de Kock, while Pat Cummins, who made a maiden Test half-century in the first innings, left alone a delivery that ducked back towards him and saw his off-stump clipped.
Debutant Chadd Sayers threw his bat at wide delivery and was caught by Dean Elgar at third slip, and the match was ended when Lyon, failed to make his ground going for a second run, with De Kock breaking the stumps after a quick throw from Aiden Markram.
It brought the curtain down on one of the most dramatic series’s ever seen in this country, culminating the banning of Australian captain Steve Smith, vice captain David Warner and opener Cameron Bancroft after the three conspired to tamper with the ball in the third Test in Cape Town using sandpaper.
In the wake of their sanction, Australia’s coach Darren Lehmann also resigned on the eve of this Test.
Nevertheless the turmoil in the Australlian camp should not subtract from what was a magnificent fightback from the Proteas following the loss in the opening Test in Durban. Ab de Villiers and Aiden Markram were magnificent with the bat, while Dean Elgar showed terrific grit.
Kagiso Rabada, who had a two-match ban overturned on appeal before the third Test was sensational with ball, as was Philander, highlighted by his exploits on the final morning of the series.
And then there was Morne Morkel, who played his final Test here, and picked up three wickets in the match, to play his part. He retires from international cricket having played 86 Tests and picked up 309 wickets.