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03 Apr 2018 11:41
Vernon Philander was unplayable on the day and took six wickets in 32 balls, but the series was about so much mor (David Gray/Reuters)
The Proteas, thanks to a superb Vernon Philander (6/21), have cruised to victory in the fourth and final Test against Australia at the Wanderers.
The hosts won by a staggering 492 runs - Australia were bowled out for 119 - on Day 5 to bring the curtain down on a series that was marred by controversy from start to finish, but will be remembered for decades.
Philander was unplayable on the day and took six wickets in 32 balls, but the series was about so much more.
David Warner and Quinton de Kock had their infamous stairwell altercation in Durban, Kagiso Rabada brushed shoulders with Steve Smith and was suspended in Port Elizabeth before Newlands exposed the biggest ball-tampering incident of all time as Australia were left disgraced.
The fourth Test started with Australian coach Darren Lehmann resigning, and it ended with South Africa inflicting their biggest ever victory (previous was 323 in 1970), by runs, over their fiercest rivals.
It is also the fourth biggest win margin by runs in the history of Test cricket.
Most importantly, though, the Proteas have beaten Australia for the first time in a home Test series since re-admission in 1991 - and the first since Ali Bacher’s iconic team of 1969/70.
Ever since they lost the first Test in Durban, this series has belonged to the hosts as they recorded victories in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and now Johannesburg to triumph 3-1.
Following a 2-1 series win at home to India, it ends a successful summer for Ottis Gibson and his men.
The fourth Test was only ever going to go one way.
Australia had lost their captain, also their best batsman, as well as both of their openers in the wake of the ball-tampering circus at Newlands.
The visitors started day one at the bottom of the barrel, and they were outplayed over all five days.
Australia began day five on 88/3, needing and impossible 524 further runs to win the Test and level the series.
That, obviously, was never going to happen but when Philander struck twice in the first four balls of the day, the Aussies’ slim hopes of at least salvaging a draw also evaporated.
Those two blows - Shaun Marsh (7) and Mitch Marsh (0) - made Philander just the seventh South African to ever take 200 wickets.
Australia were in tatters at 95/6, and it didn’t get any better.
Philander then had Peter Handscomb (24) out for the second time in the Test in the same manner when the Aussie No 4 tried to leave, but instead dragged onto his own stumps.
The Proteas had started the day with all three of their seamers struggling with injury, but that didn’t hinder them at all with Philander firing.
The Handscomb wicket was his 50th against Australia, but he wasn’t done.
Philander, his accuracy immaculate, then had stand-in Australian captain Tim Paine caught behind for 7 with yet another probing ball on a length.
The Australian batsmen could not handle Philander, to the point where Pat Cummins opted to rather not play him.
The Aussie fast bowler has had a superb series with the ball, but when he offered no shot to Philander, he was bowled for 1 as the ball nipped back to hit the top of off stump.
Debutant Chad Sayers was out first ball, caught by Dean Elgar at gully, for Philander’s sixth.
At that stage, his spell for the day was 6/3 after just 5.2 overs.
Having been given a guard of honour at the start of the day in his final Test, an injured Morne Morkel was then given one last go in Proteas colours.
He started, in appropriate fashion, with a no ball.
He would not get the last say, though, with that honour instead going to Aiden Markram who ran out Nathan Lyon from the boundary.
In total, it took South Africa just 81 minutes to get the seven wickets they needed on the day. — Sport 24
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