A look at the epic ODI battles between South Africa and Australia in recent years

A look at the epic ODI battles between South Africa and Australia in recent years
David Miller celebrates his century during the 3rd Momentum ODI Series match between South Africa and Australia at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on 5 October 2016 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

South Africa is the only cricket team that has a positive winning record over Australia in ODI cricket, even though the Aussies have been more successful in World Cups. Here’s a look at a few of the extraordinary encounters between the two teams.

The two teams have met on 109 occasions in the format with the Proteas claiming 55 wins to Australia’s 50 with three ties and two no results in the mix too.

The two sides have had epic encounters over the years in the 50-over format and they meet again on Thursday in the second Cricket World Cup semi-final.

Both teams won seven out of nine of their round-robin matches and look to be peaking at the right time of the tournament, yet only one side can advance.

In this article, Daily Maverick looked at four of the most epic encounters between South Africa and Australia across the last 24 years.

1999 Super Sixes

South Africa and Australia have met on five occasions in a Cricket World Cup, each side winning three matches each, with one tie.

That tie came in the semi-final, four days after the Aussies edged past South Africa by five wickets with two balls remaining in the Super Sixes of the 1999 Cricket World Cup.

Herschelle Gibbs

Herschelle Gibbs is bowled for 101 during the World Cup Super Six match against Australia at Headingley in Leeds, England. (Photo: Adrian Murrell /Allsport)

The prior victory meant Australia advanced to the final of the quadrennial tournament, by virtue of having a higher net-run rate in the Super Sixes, and eventually went on to win the event — their second Cricket World Cup title, they’d go on to win three more.

The Super Six clash between the two sides is remembered for Australian skipper Steve Waugh allegedly telling Herschelle Gibbs: “you’ve just dropped the World Cup, mate,” after Gibbs grassed a straightforward catch at short-midwicket.

Waugh was on 56 at the time and Australia would have been 152 for four at the end of the 31st over, chasing South Africa’s 272, had the catch been taken.

Waugh went on strike a brilliant unbeaten 120 off 110 deliveries and sealed the Aussies’ win with two balls to spare.

Earlier in the encounter, Gibbs struck a sublime 101 off 134 balls to put South Africa in a strong position for victory but as it turned out, his exploits with the bat weren’t enough.

Mark Boucher

Mark Boucher of South Africa runs out Mark Waugh of Australia during the World Cup Super Six match at Headingley in Leeds, England. (Photo: Adrian Murrell /Allsport)

Epic 438 (2006)

Gibbs is the protagonist of the next iconic battle between the two rivals as well, at Wanderers Cricket Ground.

The ‘438 match’ is often regarded as one of the best ODI matches of all time with the aggregate score of 872 still the highest ever, 17 years later. It was the fifth and final match of an ODI series that was tied 2-2.

Graeme Smith

South African captain Graeme Smith (right) hits a six, watched by Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist (left), in the fifth and final One Day International in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sunday 12 March 2006. (Photo: EPA/Jon Hrusa)

Australia scored a then-record 434 runs in their innings off the back of a sumptuous Ricky Ponting 164 off only 205 deliveries.

This time it was Jacques Kallis who had a clever retort, allegedly exclaiming “Come on, guys: it’s a 450-wicket. They’re 15 short”.

South Africa needed a monumental effort to even get close and that came off the willow of Gibbs who struck a world-class 175 off 111 balls.

Gibbs shared a fabulous 187-run third-wicket partnership with skipper Graeme Smith who chipped in with an excellent 90 off 55 balls.

The victory was sealed by a chip over mid-on by Mark Boucher, who in turn brought up a composed 50 off 43 deliveries.


The Proteas celebrate their victory in the fifth and final One Day International cricket match against Australia at the Wanderers in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Sunday 12 March 2006. (Photo: EPA/Jon Hrusa)

2007 World Cup

South Africa entered the 2007 World Cup as the highest-ranked team and the favourites for the title.

They lost a high-scoring group game to the Aussies by 83 runs before they met the men from Down Under again in the semi-finals.

With retribution and a first-ever spot in a Cricket World Cup final in mind, the Proteas’ batting completely capitulated.

Smith won the toss, elected to bat first on a good ground at the Gros Islet Cricket Ground in St Lucia but fell apart. Justin Kemp, coming in at seven was the team’s highest scorer with an unbeaten 49 off 91 deliveries.

Charl Langeveldt, ODI, Australia vs South africa

Charl Langeveldt of South Africa celebrates the wicket of Adam Gilchrist of Australia during thei ICC Cricket World Cup semi final match at the Beausejour Cricket Ground on 25 April 2007 in Gros Islet, Saint Lucia. (Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

AB de Villiers (15 off 34) and Gibbs (39 off 49) were the only other batters to reach double figures as South Africa set 149 in 43. 5 overs.

Michael Clarke smacked an 86-ball 60 to guide Australia to an easy win and into their fourth consecutive World Cup final.

Australia went on to beat Sri Lanka by 81 runs in the final to win their third Cricket World Cup in succession.

That was Australia’s last victory over South Africa in World Cup cricket. They only met again in 2019, where, despite a miserable campaign for the Proteas, they came away with a 10-run victory

David Miller, ODI

David Miller of the Proteas during the Momentum ODI Series 5th ODI match between South Africa and Australia at PPC Newlands on 12 October 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Miller demolition (2016)

South Africa are currently struggling to chase in the ongoing World Cup but in 2016, the side recorded one of the most memorable chases in ODI history.

In a day/night clash at Kingsmead, Durban, Australia posted a monstrous 371 for six, largely thanks to centuries by David Warner (117 off 107) and then skipper Steve Smith (108 off 107).

But the score was never going to be enough, as a largely second-string Aussie fast-bowling lineup struggled to contain the big-hitting South Africans.

Quinton de Kock (70 off 49) and Hashim Amla (45 off 30) got the team off to a rollicking start but it was David Miller who was the real star. The burly left-hander whacked a blitzkrieg 118 off 79 deliveries at his home ground to lead the side to an epic four-wicket win with four balls to spare.

South Africa went on to whitewash the Aussies 5-0 in the ODI series.

With both teams currently on form, Thursday’s semi-final bout between South Africa and Australia has all the makings of being another extraordinary encounter. DM


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