The way the Proteas, FAF du Plessis in particular, used the second innings of the second test in Adelaide to set up a win in the third test in Perth is probably the greatest sporting moments of 2012; well, at least for South Africans. It paved the way to a second consecutive series victory for the South Africans in the land of the Baggy Green.
To pull the second test off the Proteas and especially FAF du Plessis had to add definition to Winston Churchill’s adamant undertaking that “we shall fight them in the trenches, we shall fight them in the fields, we shall fight them in the streets…we shall never surrender”. In Adelaide it was not a war of blood and mutilation but one of nutrition, guts and glory.
Adelaide was all about robbing the Ausies, at one or other stage during the second test, of their fighting spirit and psychologically demoralising them to a point from where they could simply not recover.
Eventually it was the FAF-moment that won South Africa a remarkable series Down Under and strengthened the Proteas’ position as the number one test playing team in the world.
Neil Manthorp said a superior team is marked by an accomplished top six, a worthy spinner and real international quicks. Add to that a master batter cum wicket-keeper, an uncompromising will to win and a stubborn resilience against any form of defeat and the end result is indeed the Proteas of Graeme Smith.
Just exactly how tenacious the lads can be was illustrated when they used the second test at the Adelaide Oval to win the last in Perth.
Let me explain: FAF entered the scene with the Proteas in big trouble. They were minus their top 4, more than a day’s play was left and a victory for Australia was basically a formality. But, FAF was going nowhere. He knew that if he stuck around as the main stay there was the brilliance of AB and Kallis to support him and to rescue the test and series.
Hour after hour the three of them looked impenetrable and they absorbed ball after ball; and then some more. They survived the most bizarre sledging and desperate to maniacal bowling they will ever endure. The only support they received was an injury to James Pattinson which left the Ausies a bowler down for most of the first and the entire second innings. The fact that Pattinson was reduced to 9.1 overs in the entire game proved vital.
FAF knew that if he and the rest hung around for the 5 sessions they would bat the opposition quicks into the Perth turf and out of the third test.
The lads probably said well we need to survive 150 overs, 15 each. Alviro, Smith, Hashim and Rudolph faced 126 balls between them; i.e. 21 overs.
Not enough but no problem either.
FAF, AB and Kallis simply recalculated and decided to face their share and to make up for the top 4 and that is exactly what they did. AB faced 220 balls (37 0vers), Kallis 110 (18 Overs) and FAF 376 balls (63 overs). The three of them faced a mammoth 118 overs.
Just try to comprehend surviving 63 overs in the most hostile environment in the cricketing world. They did not stop sledging, not for one moment, FAF said afterwards, and the only respite he had was the night between the fourth and final day.
They forced Hilfenhaus to bowl 34 overs and Siddle 33.
In the test Siddle was made to bowl a mammoth 64 overs and Hilfenhaus 54.
Needless to say they did not play in the third test and their young and inexperienced replacements was not up to the Proteas.
The third test was basically won before the Proteas arrived in Perth.
With that my friends; right there, in Adelaide, the Proteas developed the invincible aura the Windies owned in the 80’s and the Ausies after them.