Manic, absurd, astonishing and more…


A two-hour passage at Newlands was, indeed, spectacular. There was simply no hiding. The seamers were lethal and the prolific use of the Decision Review System certainly aided the wealth of wickets.

I remember ducking for cover as Yuvraj Singh carted Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over during the 2007 World Twenty20. As near unbelievable as that string of theatre in Durban was, it in no way whatsoever compares to the astonishment of Thursday's procession of play at Newlands.

First it was South African writers scrambling through the record books, hoping to find that the Proteas' 96 all out was nothing close to their lowest ever Test total against the Aussies. Then it was the visiting journos rifling through history in a desperate attempt to have their side pip the lowest ever Test score – 26 all out by a lowly Kiwi unit some 50-odd years ago. The relief on Australian faces was very evident when they made it to 27 and then 30 and then 40. "Stick that in your history hole," or something along those lines, exclaimed one scribe from the land Down Under.

They ultimately made it to 47 thanks largely to Nathan Lyon and Peter Siddle's 26-run stand for the 10th wicket, which was of whopping proportions in the context of the rest of Australia's second turn at the crease. All 11 Australians managed to outscore Graeme Smith, who earlier put in a shaky 37 amid the hosts' 96 all out, by a mere 10 runs. A damning stat to say the least.

The first questions people will ask will revolve around the pitch, and how much say it had in the 23 wickets that fell under mostly sunny skies on Thursday. Yes, it played its part in that it afforded the seamers zip and seam, but really – for once – the old, overused adage of bowlers "hitting the right areas" was justified.

Ryan Harris and Shane Watson and later Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander produced the finest spells of seam bowling witnessed across all forms of international cricket this year at least. They were lethal and the prolific use of the Decision Review System certainly aided the 16 scalps between them. The batsmen, other than Brad Haddin – and his awful attempt to break the shackles – were worked out rather than getting themselves out. A two-hour passage was, indeed, spectacular.

There was simply no hiding, and one would've been forgiven for a prediction of South Africa being three or four down at stumps. However, they lost only Jacques Rudolph, for the second time in the day, as Graeme Smith attacked the chase – the right approach to take, when defending for the close would only have landed them in trouble.

Having removed a sizeable chunk from their 236-run target, with nine wickets still in the bank and the pitch flattening out, one has to back South Africa to win a contest they genuinely seemed out of as early as midway through the middle session on day two. Either way, those who made plans to get down to the cricket over the weekend need to make alternative plans…