Take a look back at how Proteas players Mark Boucher, Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini shared their personal experiences from the incredible 438 game, which took place in Johannesburg 15 years ago.
Despite arriving at the Wanderers hungover on the day of the game, Herschelle Gibbs starred for the Proteas with one of the all-time great innings in ODI cricket.
Ricky Ponting inspired the Australians to 434-4 in their allotted 50 overs before Boucher struck the winning runs on the penultimate ball of the match.
‘I was in awe. Sure, they were short boundaries, but Ricky Ponting came out and everything he swung at just hit the middle of the bat,’ Boucher told Cricket.com.au when reflecting on that historic day several years later.
‘And it wasn’t just clearing the rope by one or two metres, it was going 30 or 40 metres over the rope. It was a good innings to watch … I always look back and think I saw a fantastic innings from probably the best seat in the house,’ Boucher said about the Australian captain’s fantastic knock of 164.’
Pollock, who didn’t play in the final clash of the series, told the hilarious reaction from Jacques Kallis when the Proteas came back into the change room after the Australian innings.
‘We were sitting there watching in the rooms, and when the boys came in at the innings break, it was just deathly silence. Everyone was so disappointed. And Jacques Kallis was one of the last in and he just walked in and said: “The bowlers have done their job boys – I reckon they’re 10 or 15 short”,’ Pollock said
‘It was just so quiet. The coach didn’t say anything. The captain didn’t say anything. But then Jacques walked in and said that … and that’s when the ice was broken. Everyone just started laughing,’ Ntini added.
Gibbs then turned the game on its head and his knock provided the Proteas with more than a glimmer of hope as the team batted with an exceptional run rate.
Captain Graeme Smith scored 90 off 55 deliveries at the top of the order before Gibbs smashes his way to 175 off 111 deliveries.
‘When Herschelle got going that day – sheesh. People weren’t even celebrating sixes. Clapping for a six was like clapping for a single because of how quickly it was going. He was the kind of guy who would push the envelope at times and when he did something, he went big. Much like that innings. If he decided to have a night out, he would go big. If he decided to have some KFC, he would have a whole bucket. That was Herschelle’s personality – he was either all in, or not at all,’ said Pollock.
Ntini added that Gibbs’ now well-known big night out on the eve of the game probably sparked his effort after Smith and head coach Mickey Arthur were furious at his actions.
‘We all knew him, he was that typical guy that was forever fresh. I even said to him and in front of everyone, “We should let Herschelle Gibbs drink every night”. He scored 175 after a night out. To do that, it’s mind-blowing,’ Ntini said.
Boucher then struck a half century of his own to get the Proteas over the line.
‘When I was batting, I wasn’t hitting the middle of the bat at all. My job was just to stay there and see what happened if I was there at the back-end of the game. And thankfully it worked out like that,’ he added.