23 Wickets Fall On Incredible Day In Cape Town

23 Wickets Fall On Incredible Day In Cape Town
23 Wickets Fall On Incredible Day In Cape Town
©REUTERS / Action Images

Australia 284 (Clarke 151) & 47 (Philander 5-15) v
South Africa 96 (Watson 5-17) & 81-1 (Smith 36no)
First Test, Cape Town, day two

An extraordinary day in Cape Town - perhaps one of the most extraordinary that Test cricket has ever seen - saw 23 wickets fall as Australia and South Africa were both bowled out for double-figure scores on the second day of the opening Test.

The day's drama continued right to the end, Michael Hussey dropping Hashim Amla as South Africa reached 81 for one in their second innings having been set 236 to win.

After Michael Clarke and Australia's lower order steered Australia to 284 all out - Clarke making 151 - South Africa were bowled out for 96 as Shane Watson took five wickets in 21 balls and the home side collapsed to lose nine wickets for 55.

Australia then lost all ten of their wickets for 47 - their fourth lowest score of all time and lowest for 109 years - and were in danger of being dismissed for an all-time low before Peter Siddle (12 not out) and Nathan Lyon (14) helped them partially recover from 21 for nine.

Vernon Philander returned five for 15 to pile the pressure on Australia before Jacques Rudolph became the 23rd wicket of the day as South Africa slipped to 27 for one but a counter-attack from Graeme Smith and Amla ensured they closed the day strongly.

This was Test cricket on steroids but the day started in more regulation fashion as Clarke used his experience and skill to take his side's score from 214 for eight to 284 with valuable support from Peter Siddle, who made 20.

Siddle eventually fell and a 59-run partnership was broken when he chipped Morne Morkel to AB de Villiers and the innings was closed when Morkel bowled Clarke as he tried to make room and hit out through the off side.

It took South Africa well over an hour to get the first breakthrough as Clarke and Siddle resisted bravely but Clarke was lucky that no second slip was in place when he edged and then when Imran Tahir dropped Clarke as well.

South Africa then made a solid start to their first innings as Smith (37) and Rudolph (18) put on 24 for the first wicket, at which point the collapse began.

It was inspired by Watson, who was the catalyst for a session in which 12 wickets fell and Australia made excellent use of the decision review system to have three decisions overturned when Amla (leg before for three), Jacques Kallis (caught by Ricky Ponting at slip without scoring) and AB de Villiers (trapped in front for eight) were deemed to have been given reprieves by the on-field umpires.

Rudolph had fallen when he was clean bowled by Harris and Smth played on to Watson, who also had Ashwell Prince (0) and Mark Boucher (4) trapped in front as he delivered an outstanding spell of disciplined seam bowling.

Harris then had Philander caught by Ponting for four, Morkel was embarrassingly run out for one and Imran Tahir was comprehensively bowled by Harris for five as South Africa marked 20 years since readmission with their second lowest Test score since returning to international cricket in 1991.

Harris finished with figures of four for 33 as South Africa's innings lasted just 24.3 overs.

If that was a short measure, it was still six and a half more overs than Australia would last as they looked to build their lead in their second innings.

Watson, who had enjoyed a fine day with the ball, marked an unmemorable one with the bat when he was trapped in front by Dale Steyn; ironically enough, had he gone for a review, it would have been overturned. He made just four.

Ponting was then trapped in front by Philander for nought, Phillip Hughes (9) edged Philander to Rudolph, who took a good low catch at slip and Hussey fell first ball when he was caught by Prince off Morkel as Australia staggered to 13 for four.

It was 15 for five when Clarke was an lbw victim of Philander for two and then 18 for six when Brad Haddin, trying to be positive, danced down the pitch only to nick Philander to Boucher having failed to score.

Record pages were being reached for when Ryan Harris (3), Mitchell Johnson (3) and Shaun Marsh (0) all fell with the score on 21 but Siddle and Lyon averted complete humilation with a stand of 26 for the final wicket.

Philander returned five for 15, Steyn two for 23 and Morkel three for nine with Steyn ending the partnership as de Villiers took the catch.

Rudolph then fell for the second time in the day - Clarke and Siddle also suffered that fate - when he was caught by Haddin off Siddle for 14 but unlike in the first innings, it did not spark a collapse.

Smith and Amla had plenty of nervy moments to deal with as the ball continued to move around in the air and off the spicy track but both also played some crisp shots - Smith through the on side and Amla through the covers to reach stumps on 36 and 29 respectively.

Hussey completed a miserable day for himself when he shelled an easy chance as Amla drove injudiciously outside off stump with Harris the disappointed bowler and Clarke a disappointed captain.

It is not often that you score 151, then bowl a team out for 96, only to leave the field with your opponents looking like they are in the driving seat.

Little can be taken for granted, however, as at the end of play on day one, South Africa were looking just as well-set and after lunch, they looked in an even better position.

The day also provided a rare example of a part of all four innings being played on one day. Lyon's 14 was only the eighth instance of a number 11 top scoring and he is yet to bowl a ball in the game, which sums up the topsy-turvy nature of the contest.

© Cricket World 2011