For a man who got only a few hours sleep, Mark Gillespie was wide awake to produce another career-defining bowling performance to claim Test-best figures for the second time in nine days against South Africa.

The Wellingtonian grabbed 6-113 against the Proteas on day three of the third Test to help restrict the tourists to 9-474 when they seemed on track for a far larger total in the weather-affected Test.

The 32-year-old proved last Friday's 5-59 in Hamilton on his recall to the international fold was no fluke, to claim five wickets on the third day on a benign Basin Reserve pitch.

It was his third five-wicket haul in Tests, all against South Africa and came despite a badly split big toe on his left foot which kept him awake for much of the night.

"I probably had two or three hours sleep last night because my toe was just throbbing," he said.

"It's a lot of pain but it deflects every other pain that you've got because it's just banging away."

A little over two weeks ago Gillespie was looking forward to seeing out his domestic season with Wellington and putting his feet up over winter but now he's having to get performances out of a body which had been riddled with injuries in recent years.

"It's just a case of getting yourself up every day to get yourself through it," he said after sitting in an ice bath.

Not being contracted by NZ Cricket, he had been looking for work over the winter to pay the bills but is now eyeing a busy Test schedule which begins with a tour to the West Indies in July.

"I was getting ready for the season to end and and then get my body right over the winter and find a job, find something to do, earn some money. Now things might be a little bit different."

But first he needs to get his toe, which "basically has a mouth on it", healed.

NZ Newswire