Philander rips Australia apart as South Africa 3-1 series victory

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Vernon Philander sent Australia crashing to defeat with a sensational spell of bowling on the fifth day of the fourth Test against Australia at the Wanderers Stadium on Tuesday.

Philander took a career-best six for 21 as Australia were bowled out for 119, giving South Africa victory by 492 runs, a record runs margin for South Africa.

South Africa completed a 3-1 series win, the first time they had beaten Australia in a home series since 1969/70.

It brought to an end a series of high-quality cricket and even greater off-field drama, culminating in a ball tampering scandal during the third Test in Cape Town which resulted in former captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and Cameron Bancroft sent home.

Philander struck twice in the first over of the day. He had Shaun Marsh caught at gully off the first ball. An inside edge looped off the batsman’s thigh pad to Temba Bavuma.

Four balls later Mitchell Marsh was caught behind without a run having been added to the overnight 88 for three. It was Philander’s 200th wicket in his 54th Test.

Peter Handscomb was next, bowled off an inside edge for 24 as he tried to withdraw his bat – an almost exact replica of his first-ball dismissal in the first innings.

Tim Paine and Pat Cummins were unable to repeat their defiant stand of the first innings, with Paine caught behind for seven and Cummins bowled for one.

Chadd Sayers was caught at third slip off the first ball he faced. At that stage Philander’s figures for the morning were 5.2-2-3-6.

Morne Morkel, playing in his final Test, had been given a guard of honour by his teammates and support staff when he walked on to the field at the start of the day.

With nine wickets down, Morkel was given the ball but was unable to add to his 309 Test wickets. The final wicket fell to a run-out, with Nathan Lyon failing to beat Aiden Markram’s throw from point as he went for a second run off Morkel’s bowling.

Brief scores

South Africa 488 and 344-6 declared

Australia 221 and 119 (V. Philander 6-21)

Result: South Africa won by 492 runs

Series: South Africa won the four-match series 3-1 

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Ish Sodhi heroics help New Zealand draw Test as England lose series 1-0

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A frustrating day for Joe Root.

England‘s cruel winter ended on an all too fitting note as they extended their winless run of overseas Tests to a national-record 13 with a Christchurch draw and 1-0 series defeat to New Zealand.

Stuart Broad took two wickets with the first two balls of a glorious morning to renew belief that the 10 required might be possible on a flat pitch, and debutant spinner Jack Leach was soon in the thick of it too.

But the resistance of Tom Latham (83) and Ish Sodhi (56no), not to mention five dropped catches in New Zealand’s 256 for eight, left Joe Root’s men with too much to do as the hosts held on bravely for their fourth series success over England – who had to deal with further frustration on top of their 4-0 Ashes trouncing.

Broad providing an astonishing start to the final push here.

England’s rejuvenated ‘enforcer’ could take limited credit when Latham’s opening partner Jeet Raval poked a catch straight to square-leg before the majority had taken their seats, or laid the rugs out on Hagley Park’s grass banks.

But it will be fair enough if Broad dines out a few times on the moment he then got his next delivery in the perfect spot to see off Kiwi captain Kane Williamson for his first Test match golden duck in 116 innings of a great career so far.

To send Williamson packing at the first opportunity, caught-behind on the back-foot defence, was a huge morale boost.

Ross Taylor had not read Broad’s comic-book hero script, blocking the hat-trick ball, but he soon made up for it in the eyes of England followers by instead becoming Leach’s maiden Test wicket.

Dropped in the meantime by James Vince off Broad low at third slip, Taylor mis-swept the slow left-armer to the man who had just been brought up from the boundary to a catching position at backward square-leg.

Like Taylor, Henry Nicholls then fell for 13 too when the returning James Anderson had him feeling for the line pushing forward and edging to slip for Alastair Cook’s second catch of the morning.

England had to wait until after lunch and another 20 overs for their next breakthrough, and it was again a case of Root having his man in position as Mark Wood went round the wicket and struck for the first time in his comeback match when he had the determined BJ Watling flicking a catch straight to Anderson at leg-slip.

It was not until England got Latham, though, that they perhaps appeared to be on the home straight at last.

England'

Vince had more than five hours of playing time in which to regret failing to hold a tough chance at slip when Latham had 23 the previous evening. But he clawed it back when he ran in from the deep to take an ankle-high catch from a mis-sweep at the start of a new spell as Leach switched ends.

Latham’s mistake came after he had kept England at bay for 207 balls, and it left the Kiwis six down with a scheduled 54 overs still left.

Two drops by Mark Stoneman off Leach set the tourists back again, Colin de Grandhomme low at cover on six and Sodhi crucially at silly-point before he had scored in a half-century stand which ate up 26 precious overs.

Wood returned to have de Grandhomme very well-caught low down by Leach this time at fine-leg.

But Sodhi, who dug in for a three-hour 50, and Neil Wagner then would not be moved for 31 overs, whatever England tried – including squad-player ball-boy boundary riders to speed up the over rate and close fielders on their knees to try to make catches out of nothing.

Root himself finally had Wagner caught bat-pad on review at silly-point, but too late from the final ball of the match before bad light had last word.

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Union calls on Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft bans to be reduced

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Out of the game for 12 months: Steve Smith.

Bans handed to Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft should be reduced, the Australian cricketers’ union said Tuesday, arguing the punishment was disproportionate to previous ball-tampering cases.

Disgraced former captain Smith and his deputy Warner were suspended from international and domestic cricket for 12 months and Bancroft for nine months over a plot to alter the ball during the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

All three players have apologised and accepted responsibility in emotional press conferences after being kicked off the tour and returning home last week.

Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) president Greg Dyer said “justice which is rushed can sometimes be very flawed”, referring to Cricket Australia (CA) handing out its punishment so soon after the incident.

He urged a relaxation of the bans to allow the men to return to domestic action sooner, saying of the dozen or so previous cases the ACA had studied, the most severe punishment was a ban for two one-day internationals.

“These proposed penalties are disproportionate relative to precedent,” he told a press conference.

Dyer pointed to the International Cricket Council sanction, which suspended Smith for one Test and docked him his match fee after he admitted responsibility for the ball-tampering scandal.

He also said the contrition expressed by players has been “extraordinary” and should be taken into account.

A wave of sympathy for Smith, in particular, has been gathering pace since a heart-wrenching public apology on Thursday, in which he broke down in tears.

“Their distressed faces have sent a message across the globe as effective as any sanctions could be. I think Australia cried with Steve Smith last Thursday, I certainly did,” said Dyer.

“We consider that the players need to return to domestic cricket earlier and as part of their rehabilitation.”

With the 2019 World Cup and an Ashes series in 2019, supporters of the players believe they need to be playing state cricket to be in the type of form that could warrant selection.

All three men have until Thursday to inform Cricket Australia whether they accept their punishment or will opt for a hearing, as is their right.

Dyer also said the “win-at-all-costs” culture of Australian cricket must be addressed by independent inquiry examining the game from top to bottom, reporting to both the ACA and CA.

“Organisational culture comes from its leadership and it comes from the top. It cannot be grafted onto the bottom,” he said, as pressure grows for cricket’s top brass to also come under the spotlight.

“Let us identify all the causes of the tipping point that occurred in Cape Town.”

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