[Archives, No438] Pleasant cricket hangover grips SA after greatest ever ODI

Herschelle Gibbs scored an unbelievable 175 runs in just 111 balls. (Reuters)

Herschelle Gibbs scored an unbelievable 175 runs in just 111 balls. (Reuters)

Sunday, March 12 marked the 11-year anniversary of the unforgettable “438” game between Australia and the Proteas. We’ve dug up the reaction on the day after so you can relive all the glory, bewilderment and pride.    

South African cricket fans woke up on Monday morning buoyed by the unbelievable achievement of their cricket heroes in doing the improbable on Sunday. In beating the Australians in a record-breaking display, the South African team have given their public every right to be proud of them.

The South Africans chased down an Australian score of 434-4 to win a game that, when looking at the Australian total at the changeover, no one in their right mind would have given South Africa a slim hope in hell of winning.

The nation’s pride was echoed in most of the major newspapers on Monday.

The daily The Star ran a front-page report titled “438/9: Choke on this, Aussies”, an ironic reference to the “chokers” tag the Australians have bestowed on the South African team in the past.
In chasing, and reaching, such a high score, the South Africans may have put that tag to bed once and for all in spectacular fashion, leaving the Australians with something to mull over.

With the Test series beginning on Thursday, the South Africans can move forward with confidence in their ability to match the Australians in all facets of the game. The Australians enter the Test series having lost a match they would never have believed possible, which must have gone some way to rocking their confidence.

Business Day ran the front-page headline “Records galore as Gibbs leads series clincher”, giving due credit to Herschelle Gibbs who, in a great team display, was the leading light, scoring an unbelievable 175 runs in just 111 balls. Only an innings of that magnitude could have eclipsed the innings by Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who scored a similarly astounding 164 in 105 balls.

For those in the stands, it will be a long time, if ever, before such a game will again be witnessed. And unlike in the past, the South Africans came out on top. Captain Graeme Smith led from the front, scoring 90 off 55 balls, while veteran wicketkeeper Mark Boucher held the innings together superbly at the end, scoring a valuable 50 not out off 43 balls.

Such is the hype that the result of this match created that The Guardian in London carried the following, to put the match into perspective for those who are more familiar with other sporting codes: “In football, the equivalent of the Australian total would be Liverpool scoring 14 in the first half at Highbury. But the most extraordinary aspect of yesterday’s game was what happened after half-time. South Africa roared back and, impossibly, unthinkably, they won, scoring 438 for nine.

“Back at our metaphorical Highbury, Arsenal had scored 15 in the second half! One-day cricket will never be the same again; nor will the nerves of the poor, flayed bowlers. But we anoraks are in ecstasy.”

Afrikaans daily Beeld carried a headline proclaiming South Africa to be record-breakers—referring to, apart from the South African victory, the host of records that fell on the day. Australia set a record for the highest one-day total, which was eclipsed by South Africa only a few hours later. The total runs scored in the day was a record, as was the total number of runs (113) that hapless Mick Lewis went for in his 10 overs.

Spare a thought for the poor bowlers on Sunday, from both teams, who experienced an assault the nature of which will not be seen for a long time. Who would want to be a bowler on a day like that?

In an interesting aside, this South African victory comes shortly after comments made by Shane Warne on his arrival in the country. According to Business Day, Warne predicted on Saturday that Australia would win Sunday’s game.

“I think it should be a good match, but I’m pretty sure Australia will win it,” said Warne.

He was wrong on both counts. It wasn’t a good match. It was far better than that; it was an unbelievable match. And South Africa won.

Warne also referred to the recent history between the two teams, and said: “But ever since 1994 Australia have dominated South Africa, and recently we have done so in both forms of the game.”

No one can dispute that Australia have had the wood over South Africa for some time now. But Sunday’s win, in the light of Warne’s comments, has set the two teams up for an enthralling three-Test series. 


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