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An Epic: Aus. vs. SA, March 12, 2006

Edward Craig writes from Johannesburg:

"I had left work, came home, put my green's cap on, put on my Proteas' top and started waving my flag. It was do or die, I was going down with my team, and - oh my god." This was a taxi driver explaining why it took him so long to pick up his passenger. A bleary-eyed porter at the hotel said that he is working nights and was supposed to sleep through the day. But he couldn't and, as Herschelle Gibbs started swinging, his phone was keeping him awake with friends texting, ringing and screaming. He looked exhausted.

People in the crowd wept, unable to cope with the frenzied atmosphere and unable to believe they were there at the greatest one-day game ever. Tony Greig, back in his homeland (or is it his adopted country, or just the one he lives in) choked backed emotion. He loves seeing Australians get beat.

Oh, I bet he does.

The Cape's Daily Voice, a tabloid that makes the UK's Sun look like a balanced and serious take on the day's events, didn't hold back. "Gibbs leads the chase as Proteas whip Aussie ass," it shouted, and on the front page a bi-lingual headline that embraced the multi-cultural hero that is Gibbs, as well as being easy to understand: "Jou ma se 434 ... we'll just score even more."

Those who're confused, here's the story: For 10 years the record for the highest score in One-Day International cricket was 398 runs (think of them as points). Well, yesterday the Aussies were playing the South Africans. The Aussies batted first and scored 434 runs, thus breaking the world record.

All hope was lost for the miserable South Africans.

Then came the most remarkable and unbelievable performance by the South Africans. They actually made 438 runs and in doing so vanquished the world champions. The South Africans broke the world record for the highest score in ODI cricket ... in 3 hours!

This is even more astonishing when one considers that, just before, the highest ODI score while batting second was 344 runs.

Telford Vice in Johannesburg:

The Wanderers crowd, the most patriotic in the country, had been smashed into silence by the Aussie onslaught. But, with the help of Smith and Gibbs, they began to believe in the impossible.

"The Wanderers has such a good vibe when South Africa are on top, and it can be quite an intimidating place for the opposing team," Rhodes said. "The crowd was very quiet for a while, but then they just went berserk."

No doubt.

"Your adrenalin levels go through the roof, and the guys need to come down to earth quickly." What now? The Test series starts in Cape Town on Thursday, and it could be titanic.

Australian supremacy in cricket is on the line.


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