Despondent Australia crushed in a session


South Africa 311 (Elgar 141*, de Villiers 64, Cummins 4-78) and 373 (Markram 84, De Kock 65, De Villiers 63, Philander 52*, Cummins 3-67, Hazlewood 3-69, Lyon 3-102) beat Australia 255 (Bancroft 77, Morkel 4-87, Rabada 4-91) and 107 (Morkel 5-23) by 322 runs

South Africa might have won the Test, but the real winner was schadenfreude. After the ball-tampering events of Saturday, nobody outside of the Australian team – and possibly not even they – could have wished for any result other than a huge South African victory. And so it came to pass, a 322-run win that even for the South Africans must have felt strange. Australia were the losers in every way: they lost not only the Test, but their captain to suspension, and their credibility.

Normally after an outcome like this, the focus would be on yet another Australian batting collapse, all out for 107 in a chase of 430. But this Test will only ever be remembered for the ball-tampering scandal. It is a shame, because Morne Morkel deserves recognition for collecting 5 for 23 to make match figures of 9 for 110, a career-best in what he has already announced is his last series. But in years to come, the defining image of this game will be Cameron Bancroft stuffing tape down his pants, not Morkel walking off with his head held high.

The day had started in somewhat stunned silence, and with Tim Paine captaining the Australians after Steven Smith and David Warner were stood down from the captaincy and vice-captaincy by Cricket Australia. From an Australian perspective the match suddenly seemed as pointless as a broken pencil, but South Africa had worked hard to gain the upper hand in this Test and they deserved to be rewarded for that.

South Africa could do nothing but carry on trying to win, and that they did by adding 135 further runs to their total for the loss of their final five wickets. AB de Villiers was caught in the cordon for 63, but Quinton de Kock and Vernon Philander both posted half-centuries to ensure a total of 373. Along the way Nathan Lyon took his 300th Test wicket, but the celebration was as subdued as any seen in Australian cricket for a long time.

Australia were set 430 to win, but even had they pulled off that record chase it would have earned them no respect whatsoever. Not that they ever got close. Bancroft’s concentration is the stuff of legend in Australian domestic cricket, but even he must have had trouble focusing after the ball-tampering drama. He and Warner gamely put on 57 for the opening wicket, but the stand was broken when Warner called Bancroft through for a suicidal single and the younger man was run out. It was a fitting metaphor for the events of the previous day.

Warner himself was soon caught at gully off Kagiso Rabada for 32, and the wickets tumbled. Usman Khawaja edged Keshav Maharaj to slip, Shaun Marsh was brilliantly caught by Aiden Markram diving at short leg next ball, Smith steered a catch to gully off Morkel for 7, Mitchell Marsh lobbed a catch off an attempted hook off Morkel, Pat Cummins was caught off the glove from a fierce Morkel bouncer the very next ball, Mitchell Starc fended a catch to short leg off Morkel, Nathan Lyon was run out by Temba Bavuma and Josh Hazlewood was the last man out, caught off Morkel to complete the five-wicket haul.

Paine remained not out on 9, the last man standing in an Australian line-up that had embarrassed itself again. Another fitting metaphor for the man who could soon become the country’s 46th Test captain.

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