BEFORE their tri-series match against Australia in Providence, Guyana, on Tuesday‚ South Africa had gone 95 one-day internationals without picking three specialist spinners.
Never before‚ in 1 045 matches in all formats against all opponents‚ had they fielded eight players of colour.
Only once before have South Africa put fewer than their total of 189/9 on the board against Australia in an ODI – and still found a way to win.
Which of those facts grabs your attention depends on which prism you use to look at Proteas cricket.
Those spinners – Imran Tahir‚ Aaron Phangiso and Tabraiz Shamsi – took five wickets between them.
But Kagiso Rabada and Wayne Parnell did the winning with the new ball, claiming 3/13 and 2/23.
Yes‚ they are players of colour. As was the entire South African attack.
Another player of colour‚ the much-maligned Farhaan Behardien‚ came to the crease at the end of the 25th over with his team teetering on 104/5.
Twenty balls later he saw them slip to 112/6.
What did Behardien do about that?
He hung tough for 62‚ finding his sturdiest support in stands of 37 and 39 with Phangiso and Rabada. It was a superb rearguard effort, but 190 seemed a tiny target to present to the mighty Australians. But it was not‚ thanks to Rabada and Parnell setting the tone by bowling with sustained‚ disciplined aggression.
Parnell trapped the dangerous David Warner in front with the 10th ball of the innings‚ and when the Aussies blinked they were 90/8 in the 23rd over.
Aaron Finch gritted out a Behardienesque 72 and there was 30 from Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood‚ No 10 and No 11.
All told‚ there were only 142 runs in the book when Phangiso had Lyon leg before to end the match.
Somehow‚ SA had won by 47 runs.