The iconic Newlands in Cape Town, picturesquely situated with the Table Mountain serving as a breathtaking backdrop, holds a special significance in South African cricket history. The ground hosted South Africa’s second Test match, against England in 1888-89, and has gone on to become a fortress of sorts for the hosts after readmission. As the Proteas gear up for the deciding third Test against India at the venue from 11th January, here is a look back at five Cape Town classics.
South Africa v England, Second Test, 1922-23
The hosts held a 1-0 lead in the five-match series, courtesy of an impressive 168-run win at Johannesburg. They lost George Hearne for nought after Herbie Taylor elected to bat, and never really recovered, crashing to 67/6 before getting bowled out for 113. Percy Fender damaged the middle order to take 4/29. England replied with 183, losing their last seven wickets for only 55. The pace duo of Jimmy Blanckenberg (5/61) and debutant Alfred Hall (4/49) shared the spoils.
Taylor (68) and Bob Catterall (76) combined for a second-wicket stand of 155 after Hearne’s second duck. The innings however petered out to 242, thanks to George Macaulay (5/64). Chasing 173, England slumped to 86/6 with a day to go. Captain Frank Mann (45) and Vallance Jupp swung the game again, sharing 68 for the seventh wicket. Hall, who bagged a haul of 7/63 this time, kept the contest alive until the final pair squeezed the last five runs needed for victory.
South Africa v Australia, Second Test, 2001-02
The Baggy Greens under Steve Waugh could do little wrong. After thumping South Africa by 360 runs at Johannesburg, they sealed the series through a remarkable chase. Australia quickly jumped into the driver’s seat, bowling the hosts out for 239 on the first day. It could have been worse if not for Andrew Hall, who scored 70 after coming in at 92/6. Australia’s first innings revolved around a whirlwind 138 from Adam Gilchrist, who powered his side to 382 from 185/6.
South Africa’s top order collectively stood up in the second innings – Neil McKenzie (99), Gary Kirsten (87), Jacques Kallis (73) and Graeme Smith (68) all contributed towards a total of 473. Shane Warne bowled 70 overs for 6/161. Facing a target of 331, openers Justin Langer (58) and Matthew Hayden (96) began aggressively, putting on 102. Ricky Ponting took charge thereafter, remaining unbeaten on 100 to steer Australia home by four wickets before tea on the fifth day.
South Africa v England, Third Test, 2009-10
England arrived in Cape Town buoyed by an innings win at Durban, which gave them a 1-0 lead. South Africa slid to 51/3 after being inserted, and that they reached 291 owed a lot to a masterly 108 from Jacques Kallis. James Anderson was the wrecker-in-chief with 5/63. The hosts gained a narrow 18-run lead on the back of pacemen Morne Morkel (5/75) and Dale Steyn (4/74). England’s top-scorers were Alastair Cook (65) and Matt Prior (76), who rescued them from 73/4.
South Africa declared their second innings at 447/7 before tea on the fourth day; skipper Graeme Smith scoring a sublime 183 and sharing 230 with Hashim Amla (95) for the second wicket. At 160/5 with 70 overs left, it was looking bleak for England. Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell (78) however added 112 for the sixth wicket, before the former’s loss led to a collapse of 4/18. Much to England’s relief, Graeme Swann and Graham Onions played out three overs to steal the draw.
South Africa v India, Third Test, 2010-11
Brimming with confidence from a series-levelling win at Durban, India were gunning for glory in the decider. Jacques Kallis wowed his home crowd with a measured 161 that built South Africa’s first-innings total of 362 (S. Sreesanth 5/114). India’s own maestro Sachin Tendulkar replied with 146, defying a charged-up Dale Steyn (5/75) to bring up his 51st Test century. His second-wicket partnership of 176 with Gautam Gambhir (93) helped India to a lead of two runs.
Harbhajan Singh (7/120) gave the visitors the upper hand by dismantling the Proteas’ top order. The score read 64/4 on the fourth morning, which later became 130/6. Once again, it was Kallis who rose to the occasion. He produced another hundred, an unbeaten 109, and shared in a match-saving alliance of 103 with Mark Boucher (55) for the seventh wicket, driving the total to 341. India’s target was 340 with a full day available, but they played safe and ensured a 1-1 outcome.
South Africa v Australia, First Test, 2011-12
To say that this Test match was bizarre would be an understatement. The first day belonged to Australian captain Michael Clarke, who counterattacked the hosts’ pace trio of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and debutant Vernon Philander to conjure a memorable century on an unpredictable wicket. He was the last man out early on the second day, for 151 out of 284. Shane Watson then snared 5/17 in just five overs to send Graeme Smith’s men hurtling from 49/1 to 96.
What ensued was one of the most staggering passages of play in Test history. Australia lasted just 18 overs in their second innings as poor shot selection from the batsmen, combined with Philander’s spell of 5/15, condemned them to 47, their lowest total in 109 years. It could have been much more demeaning – they were 21/9 at one point. Smith (101*) and Hashim Amla (112) cashed in on the flow of momentum, securing an eight-wicket win before lunch on the third day.