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South African Cricket: The last 20 years -- a timeline


SILLY POINT: Well on their way to victory, SA's batsmen can't believe the scoreboard


In 1970, the ICC votes to suspend South Africa from international cricket indefinitely because of its government's policy of apartheid. This decision forces players such as Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards and Mike Procter into international seclusion. Over twenty years later - after Nelson Mandela's release from prison in Feb 1990 - South Africa are reinstated. With India showing their skills at cricket diplomacy, on November 10, 1991, South Africa mark their return with a Onedayer at Calcutta's Eden Gardens in the first of a three-match series.


After a brilliant show by the rank-outsiders right through the tournament, South Africa found themselves needing 22 off 13 balls against England to make the final. Then it begins raining and, on resumption, they are told they need 22 off one ball according to a farcical rain rule. Who knows what could have been, and it brings a sad end to a fantastic campaign in their first World Cup, but it is clear a new force in cricket has arrived


In April 1992, South Africa travel to the West Indies for a historic Test series, their first since their return to international cricket. When India visit in November that year, Omar Henry makes his debut for the home side, becoming the first non-white to play for South Africa. Pace sensation Allan Donald takes 12 wickets at St George Park, Port Elizabeth to set up South Africa's first Test win since reinstatement. They beat India by nine wickets and South Africa hold on to win the series 1-0.


After the initial rush of success, South Africa struggle a bit and Cricket South Africa hire Warwickshire coach Bob Woolmer. Working in tandem with young, new skipper Hansie Cronje, Englishman Woolmer brings about a whole new approach and South Africa, with outstanding fielders and great fast bowlers, become an almost invincible ODI side.


South Africa come to be known as the 'laptop side' due to Woolmer's scientific approach. In the group stages they look invincible and are overwhelming favourites when they play a so-far underfiring West Indies in the quarterfinals. Woolmer strangely drops Donald for the game and Brian Lara scores a brilliant century that ensures the South Africans another ouster from the World Cup.


South Africa's One-day dominance carries on and they turn the tables in the first edition of the Champions Trophy played in Bangladesh. With their depth in batting and variety in bowling, they excel in sub-continental conditions - new face Jacques Kallis making his mark as an all-rounder. South Africa beat West Indies in the final and are firm favourites for the World Cup next year.


In the 1999 World Cup, South Africa again look invincible with Lance Klusener's unbelievable hitting. They are all set to send Australia home but Herschelle Gibbs drops a sitter from Steve Waugh in the last Super Six game. They meet again in the semis, which ends in a thrilling tie. South Africa crash out due to the Super Six loss.


Few sides seem more at home in Indian conditions than South Africa. In 1999-2000, they become the first team in more than a decade to win a Test series in India. While the first Test on a turner is a tight affair, South Africa run away with the second Test to win the series 2-0. Sachin Tendulkar resigns from captaincy after the series and under new skipper Sourav Ganguly, India win the ODI series 3-2.


A few days after the ODI series, Delhi Police releases telephonic tapes involving Hansie Cronje and a bookie as they discuss throwing matches. Cronje and Herschelle Gibbs are found guilty. The investigation leads to Mohd Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja too falling in the net. Cronje is banned and Shaun Pollock is made captain. In 2002, Cronje dies in a private plane crash which still remains a mystery.


Still recovering from the Cronje scandal, South Africa host the 2003 World Cup. They are not the all-powerful side of the previous tournaments. Still, they would have qualified for the Super Sixes but for a bizzare miscalculation by skipper Pollock in a rainaffected match against Sri Lanka. They lose by the Duckworth Lewis method and crash out, pulling the curtains on Pollock's reign.


Post the 2003 World Cup fiasco, Allan Donald and Jonty Rhodes retire and a 21-year-old Graeme Smith takes over as the new captain. Their depth shows three seasons later in a historic One-dayer against Australia in Johannesburg in March 2006. It all looks dead and buried for South Africa when they are set a target of 434 in the final game of the series. As if seeking redemption for his role in match-fixing, Gibbs smashes 175 off 111 balls to give them the start and the lower order - led by Mark Boucher - holds firm to take SA home. It still stands as the biggest chase in ODI history


In the 2007 World Cup, Smith's team looks a decent unit as they work their way to the semifinals. But in the last-four stage, Australia prove too powerful for them. TEST TRIUMPH DOWN UNDER One of the biggest moments for South Africa comes when they win the Test series in Australia 2-1. Chasing 414 for victory in the Perth Test, young JP Duminy stamps his class as South Africa notch up an incredible win that marks the beginning of the end of the Ricky Ponting era in Australian cricket. The South Africans, though, promptly lose the return series at home.


Edged out by general elections in India, Lalit Modi & Co arrogantly shift the IPL to South Africa at the last moment. Their move is met with scepticism, but the organisational skills of Cricket South Africa pave the way for an extremely successful 40-day gala. Even FIFA, hosting the football World Cup the following year, sits up and take notice of South Africa's organisational abilities in large-scale events.


In the 2011 World Cup, Graeme Smith's side again look one of the most potent units on paper - even beating India in a last-over thriller. But in the knock-outs, the famous choking crops up as they lose to a mediocre New Zealand side in a shocker. Smith resigns as captain after an eight-year stint.


South Africa name Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers as their Test and ODI captains respectively, but the biggest coup comes in the form of Gary Kirsten's recruitment as the new coach. Kirtsen, after his World Cupwinning stint with India, holds promise for the South Africans as they look to go one step ahead.

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