Watch: Debutant Dwayne Smith ditches defence, slams unbeaten, run-a-ball fourth-innings century to save 2004 Newlands Test
Watch: West Indies were four down in the fourth innings when Dwayne Smith walked out at Newlands in 2003/04. He saved the Test match – not by defending but with a whirlwind hundred.
South Africa had already taken a 2-0 lead when the teams met for the third match of the four-Test series, in Cape Town. Here, too, Jacques Rudolph (101) and Mark Boucher (122 not out) virtually batted the West Indies out of the Test match by taking South Africa to 532.
The tourists responded with 427, with Chris Gayle (116) and Brian Lara (115) leading the charge. South Africa then went for quick runs, and Herschelle Gibbs (142) and Jacques Kallis (130 not out) enabled them to set a target of 441 in a full day’s cricket.
The West Indies were 203-2 at one point, when Lara (86) fell to Andre Nel for the second time in the Test match. In the six Tests featuring both of them, Nel would dismiss Lara eight times.
Ramnaresh Sarwan (69) followed soon. The West Indies still needed 217 at a very steep rate when Smith joined Wavell Hinds, with only Ridley Jacobs to follow. The West Indies seemed set for their eighth consecutive Test match defeat on South African soil.
Against Shaun Pollock, Makhaya Ntini, Nel, Paul Adams, and Kallis, most would have opted to bat out the two hours and a half. Smith opted for what Lara would later hail as the “exuberance of youth”.
Smith had, until this point, bowled two wicketless overs in the Test match, though there was some indication of his batting potential in the first-innings 30-ball 20.
In the second innings, he tore into the South African bowling. The first fifty took him 52 balls. The second, another 51. If Graeme Smith had been contemplating bringing the field in, he had to quickly abandon the idea.
He finished on 105 not out from as many balls, the West Indies on 354-5. Only 130 runs were scored at the other end while he was at the crease. Of the other debutants who scored fourth-innings centuries, no one has struck at even 68.
Across 10 Test matches and 14 innings, Smith never reached fifty again, but some strokes, especially the cross-batted ones where he used those steely wrists, indicated his potential in the shorter formats. That, along with his bowling, made him one of the early Twenty20 stars.