When the end finally came it was a fitting one. What must rank as one of the most disastrous Test matches in New Zealand’s history was brought to its conclusion by a tail-end collapse of five for 23 which culminated in the farcical run out of Chris Martin for a duck, without having faced a ball.
It was Martin’s 36th duck in Test cricket - second only to Courtney Walsh on the all-time list - and rather summed up the way New Zealand’s tail folded after lunch. Dean Brownlie and BJ Watling had resisted admirably for much of the first session and after almost two hours of determined batting, New Zealand must have dared to dream of a great escape.
Brownlie brought up his maiden Test hundred shortly before lunch, advancing down the track to loft Robin Peterson handsomely for six. It was a just reward for Brownlie, who had provided New Zealand’s supporters with at least something to cheer.
Granted, he had benefited from some luck yesterday, but played with a certain calculated aggression that none of his team-mates were able to match.
Unfortunately the new ball almost immediately proved to be Brownlie and New Zealand’s undoing. Morne Morkel removed Brownlie with the fifth delivery bowled with it, caught on the point boundary after failing to keep his trademark cut shot down.
That brought to an end a partnership of 74 with Watling, who himself departed not long after lunch to start the depressingly familiar collapse. Philander bowled one of his trademark deliveries, which found its way, via the edge of Watling’s bat, into Graeme Smith’s hands at first slip.
The New Zealand lower-order, like the top-order, always looked weak on paper and, like the top-order had in the first innings, more than lived up to its billing. Jeetan Patel and Trent Boult were particularly culpable in showing poor technique and even poorer application.
Patel, in particular, repeatedly backed away towards square-leg when faced with Dale Steyn and eventually dragged on to become the eighth man to fall. James Franklin then also dragged on, with the end coming precisely one ball later.
Jacques Kallis bowled to Boult, who danced around the crease like a man at a New Years Eve party, succeeded in chopping it down to fine-leg, called for two, sent Martin back, only to see de Villiers whip off the bails.
That meant New Zealand were all out for just 275 second time around and had lost by an innings and 27 runs. Apart from Brownlie’s century and a solitary win in one of the earlier Twenty20 Internationals, they have little to show for their tour of South Africa thus far. A side shorn of its best three players has been thoroughly outplayed in a depressing and predictable fashion.
South Africa, meanwhile, will feel that they are guaranteed to wrap up the series when the second Test begins in Port Elizabeth on 11th January, although they may have to do so without Vernon Philander, who further aggravated the hamstring injury which almost caused him to miss this match, while bowling this afternoon. Rory Kleinveldt is expected to be his replacement.
© Cricket World 2013
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