7th Match: Australia v South Africa at Sydney, 22 Jan 2002
Claire Killeen

Australia innings: 8 overs, Aus wins by 8 wickets,
South Africa innings: RSA wins toss, 15 overs, 30 overs, RSA 106ao,


Despite its poor start to the VB Series, Australia is right back in the thick of finals contention following a resounding win over South Africa at the Sydney Cricket Ground today. In reaching a meagre victory target of 107 in just the 19th over of their innings, the Australians have swept past the South Africans into second place on the competition points table.

That Mark Waugh (55*) and Ricky Ponting (33) were able to combine in a 77-run second wicket partnership and make short work of the chase also ensured that the Australians secured a potentially vital bonus point in the first five-point result of the triangular tournament.

The secret to the Australians' success was not the play of their batsmen, though. Instead, it was destructive pace bowling from Andy Bichel (5/19), Glenn McGrath (3/29) and Jason Gillespie (1/27) - on a pitch both captains initially believed would play in favour of the batsmen - which lay at the core of the home team's win.

Before rain sent the players scurrying from the field for 41 minutes, McGrath did the early damage, removing Herschelle Gibbs (0) and Boeta Dippenaar (0) in his two opening overs to have the Proteas precariously placed at 2/5.

For the second time in the series, Gibbs fell in the first over of the match - feathering a catch to wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist off an outside edge as he drove at a leg cutter of perfect length. Dippenaar then played a similarly ill-advised shot, cutting a ball too close to his body and spearing the ball off a top edge to Shane Warne at slip.

The tourists managed to stage a mini-recovery as Gary Kirsten (44) and Neil McKenzie (18) doggedly built a 37-run union around the difficulties presented by consistently seaming deliveries.

But, when McKenzie played around an inswinging yorker from Bichel to be bowled, it set the tone for a dismal collapse. The Queenslander promptly roared through the defences of Jonty Rhodes (1), Mark Boucher (1) and Shaun Pollock (0) as well, having the former caught behind as he fended uncomfortably at a rising delivery and trapping Boucher and Pollock in front of their stumps.

He later returned to crown his first five-wicket haul in one-day internationals with a brilliant one-handed catch as he leapt across to his right to intercept a drive from Makhaya Ntini (0). But it was his first spell that settled the fate of the game.

He claimed figures of 4/7 in the space of 14 balls, prompting a collapse that saw the Proteas slump from 2/42 to 7/50 and surrender virtually all aspirations of posting a competitive score.

"Sometimes it's good to have a pitch which gives bowlers a bit of assistance because generally you get a very flat wicket with quick outfields and small boundaries," said Australian captain, Steve Waugh, as he conceded that he would have done exactly the same as rival skipper Pollock in choosing to bat first upon winning the toss.

"It was another excellent wicket ... I don't think South Africa would have been that pleased with the way they batted; it probably wasn't a 106 wicket and (at least) 150-160 would have been a more realistic score on that wicket."

Kirsten was typically defiant but South Africa's woes were mounting everywhere one looked. Only minutes before the innings ended at a paltry 106 - the country's third-lowest score in one-day international history - tailender Steve Elworthy (18) ducked sickeningly into a McGrath thunderbolt down the leg side. He batted on gamely but, upon his dismissal, was taken to a local hospital for scans and observation.

Gilchrist (8) was dismissed early in Australia's reply as he defended off an inside edge at Pollock (1/36), and Ponting fell much later as he met the same fate in playing down the wrong line at Lance Klusener (1/28). But bad news continued to unfold for South Africa.

Mark Waugh, whose hold on a position in the Australian line-up has been the subject of intense scrutiny in local media circles in recent weeks, survived a series of close shaves early in his innings, even being dropped twice in successive deliveries at one point.

Missing Allan Donald and Jacques Kallis because of ongoing injury concerns, and suiting up for their third game in the space of four days, the tourists played like a jaded team.

Having now tumbled into last place on the competition table with eight points - one behind Australia and four behind New Zealand - they will be hoping for a revival when the series moves to Adelaide this weekend.


Australia has made a solid start to its run chase as its VB Series match against South Africa heads toward what is likely to be an early finish here in Sydney this evening. In reply to South Africa's meagre total of 106, the Australians have reached the dinner break at a score of 1/34 after eight overs.

Adam Gilchrist (8) was the man dismissed - bowled by captain Shaun Pollock (1/25) as he defended the ball off an inside edge back into his stumps. The breakthrough only represented a brief moment of relief for the South Africans, though, with Pollock being hammered to add to the woes that had mounted earlier in the day as he watched his side crumble to be dismissed for its miserable total.

Mark Waugh (22*) and Ricky Ponting (2*) enjoyed some fortunate escapes but neither lost his wicket to Pollock or to Makhaya Ntini (0/8) and Australia accordingly looks well on track for victory.

Waugh was dropped twice in the closing over of the session. The first slice of luck came as he fended at a short delivery from Pollock and sent the ball spearing wide to the right of wicketkeeper Mark Boucher and off his outstretched glove to the third man boundary.

The second close shave came from the very next delivery as he fended again and popped the ball off the shoulder of his bat toward point. Jonty Rhodes, normally the most reliable of fieldsmen, somehow seemed to misjudge the ball's flight, overrunning it and consequently grassing the ball with an attempt at an overhead catch to the dismay of Pollock and the other fielders.

South Africa has remained its own worst enemy for much of the day today and, unless something changes drastically when play resumes, appears out of this contest already. The fact that its players have contested three games in four days appears to be having an effect - because almost all of them appear well below their best.


The bowling of Australia's Andy Bichel has brought South Africa to its knees through a dismal opening session of play for the tourists in today's VB Series match between the teams in Sydney. Bichel's serial wicket taking - together with a superb catch - brought the house down, and the Proteas' innings as well as they crashed to be all out for 106.

Bichel snared career-best figures of 5/19 in the space of two spells, devastating the middle order as he removed Neil McKenzie (18), Jonty Rhodes (0), Mark Boucher (1) and Shaun Pollock (0) in lightning-quick succession, and then followed that effort with an extraordinary catch at the start of his second spell to dismiss Makhaya Ntini (0) and finish the innings.

Ntini drove firmly down the on side of the wicket but stood horrified as he watched his fellow fast bowler pluck the ball from mid-air with an amazing, leaping one handed catch to his right.

There are a few people dressed as Superman - not to mention a few other superheroes as well - in the crowd here today but not even they could have any qualms about Bichel classifying his performance as a superhuman one today either.

The Queenslander built brilliantly on the work of Glenn McGrath (3/29) and Jason Gillespie (1/27) who had earlier softened the South African upper order.

McGrath took two wickets in his opening spell to set the tone for the South African innings, removing Herschelle Gibbs (0) and youngster Boeta Dippenaar (0) to leave the total at 2/5.

Gillespie also bowled excellently, though he ultimately only had the scalp of Lance Klusener (0) to show for his hard work.

Tailender Steve Elworthy (18) was later left seeing stars of another form, receiving a sickening blow as he ducked into a short McGrath delivery travelling at 133 kilometres per hour on its path straight into his helmet. The all-rounder's helmet was dented and he was clearly shaken; though he batted on, he was later taken to St Vincent's Hospital for observation.

That the Proteas even advanced to a three-figure total was largely due to their disciplined opening batsman, Gary Kirsten (44). Before being trapped in front of his stumps by leg spinner Shane Warne (1/13), the left hander scored almost half of his team's runs as it crashed to its third lowest total in one-day international history.

South Africa's slide has now left Australia in an excellent position to shoot past it on the competition table later tonight.

An Australian win of any kind will push the home team past the Proteas. And, if victory is achieved inside 40 overs, the Australians will even receive the first bonus point of the series for their efforts.


Australia's fast bowlers are continuing to dominate South Africa's batsmen in the VB Series match between the teams here at the Sydney Cricket Ground today. Andy Bichel (4/18) has become Australia's latest enforcer, capturing 4/8 in the space of 13 deliveries to leave South Africa precariously placed at a mark of 8/79 after 30 overs.

Bowling from the Paddington End - having relieved the previously near-unplayable Glenn McGrath (2/18) - Bichel stunned the South African middle order, removing a quartet of the visitors' key strokemakers and helping himself to his best ever one-day international figures.

Neil McKenzie (18), Jonty Rhodes (0), Mark Boucher (1) and Shaun Pollock (0) all fell to the Queenslander as the Proteas plunged from a scoreline of 2/42 to 6/49 in the space of a disastrous half-hour.

Jason Gillespie (1/27) was the next fast bowler to hammer a nail into the Proteas coffin when he trapped pinch hitter Lance Klusener (0) in front of his stumps for the fourth duck of the innings. By this point, the tourists had fallen to a dismal 7/50 and the Australians' 12th and 13th men, Ian Harvey and Brett Lee, were doing far more running than the batsmen.

For as long as defiant opener Gary Kirsten (44) and McKenzie had been together at the crease, the visitors looked as though they may have been building toward a decent total. But, when Bichel defeated McKenzie with a stinging yorker, the South Africans were brought rapidly to their knees.

Kirsten remained - for a sustained period - the one shining light in South Africa's innings. He struggled against the new ball, and didn't always find it easy against Bichel either, but at least seemed to place the sort of price on his wicket that others around him did not.

Yet even this was not enough to ward the Australians off completely. The left hander eventually succumbed to an lbw decision as he walked across his crease and looked to slide a Shane Warne (1/7) delivery into the leg side in the leg spinner's second over.

With overs still remaining for each of Gillespie, McGrath and Bichel, the South Africans' prospects of so much as batting out the 50 overs - and/or pushing the score well in advance of the century mark - look remote.


Australia's Glenn McGrath (2/10) has continued to prove today why he is one of the world's great fast bowlers, claiming two South African scalps in the space of two overs in the VB Series clash at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Around a rain delay, McGrath's double strike has left the visitors battling to restore a score that currently stands at 2/36 after 15 overs.

Under skies covered by far more cloud than had been the case when brilliant sunshine prevailed earlier in the day, McGrath terrorised the South African upper order, striking with just his second legitimate delivery.

Opener Herschelle Gibbs (0) was well caught by wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist after he played a defensive shot down the wrong line at an excellent McGrath delivery. The right hander went back and across, played off an outside edge and handed McGrath the figures of 1/1.

It represented the sixth time that the Australian spearhead has dismissed Gibbs in the one-day international arena.

After surviving some similarly wholehearted bowling from Jason Gillespie (0/18) at the other end, Boeta Dippenaar (0) succumbed as he attempted to cut a delivery that was too close to him for the shot and edged the ball to Shane Warne at first slip.

This earned McGrath the outstanding figures of 2/1 off two overs.

The momentum was briefly interrupted by the rain that had been confidently and correctly forecast by meteorologists to hit Sydney at some point of the afternoon. A heavy though brief shower interrupted play at the end of the fifth over, sparking the loss of 41 minutes of action.

It was not enough to cause any reduction in overs, though, and it also failed to halt the South Africans' struggle against the new ball.

McGrath and Gillespie continued to bowl an impeccable line and length and beat the bat with regularity as the defensive and watchful Gary Kirsten (16*) and Neil McKenzie (15*) tried to launch a recovery.

Kirsten hit a lovely boundary down the ground but proved how difficult the task remained as he played with uncertainty off the edge at Gillespie in the tenth over and saw the ball drop only a few inches short of Gilchrist.


Australia and South Africa are about to begin the battle for second position in the VB Series here at the Sydney Cricket Ground today. Under a mix of grey and blue skies, the home team will be made to bowl first in front of a steadily building crowd after the South Africans won the toss and decided to bat.

Though South Africa currently holds a four point lead, Australia would move past it on the competition standings with a win tonight. A bonus point victory would move the Australians a point clear of the Proteas, while a regulation win would give the home country an edge on the head-to-head rule.

Having omitted talented opening batsman Matthew Hayden from their squad yesterday, the Australians have added Brett Lee and Ian Harvey to the list of players who will be absent from their eleven today. Andrew Symonds will continue to fill the all-rounder's role after a great bowling display in the previous match in the series in Brisbane, while Adam Gilchrist and Mark Waugh will be paired together at the top of the batting order.

Michael Bevan, rested for the last game, returns to the middle order in place of Hayden.

South Africa, having lost its last two games in the series - including Sunday's day-nighter against Australia at the 'Gabba - has been presented with further problems in the form of injury. The tourists have been unable to consider Allan Donald, Jacques Kallis and Justin Kemp for this match on account of such concerns, and have been forced to reshuffle their line-up as a consequence.

Donald has ongoing problems with a finger injury sustained last week in Hobart; Kallis' ankle is still playing up after he rolled it in a match in Melbourne early in the series; and Kemp injured himself in a bizarre incident with a beach ball in his hotel room.

The all-rounder was reportedly attempting to kick the beach ball but the momentum caused him to fracture his hand against a wall.

Makhaya Ntini is at least over his hamstring twinge and he returns to the eleven along with batsman Boeta Dippenaar. All-rounder Charl Langeveldt has been omitted.

In a nice touch at the start of the day, the man who tossed the coin for the two captains was Woy Woy volunteer firefighter, Daniel Franich.

Franich won a competition to gain the honour, and to provide himself with a welcome break from the memory of battling major blazes on the Central Coast for much of the past month.

© CricInfo

Date-stamped : 22 Jan2002 - 14:56