Second Test Day 3

When the bowler most likely to snare you a wicket is an eighteen year old Test debutant with less than five first-class games to his credit, it is a reasonable assumption that some serious soul-searching regarding the make-up of your bowling attack would be occurring. It is also fair to say that half-way through a Test match would not be the ideal time for this reflecting to be taking place.

Skipper Michael Clarke found himself in this unenviable position on Day 3 at Johannesburg, as Australia’s bowlers were gradually worn down by Hashim Amla and A.B. de Villiers. The day had a predictable feel about it, as the South Africans tempered their aggression in favour of batting the visitors out of contention. Amla was his usual self, accumulating runs with a minimum of fuss: leg-glancing here, running the ball through gully there. De Villiers at times appeared to be straining at the leash, busting to let loose, itching to flay the attack to all parts of the Wanderers, but ultimately kept his focus on the big picture.

In continuing his impressive debut, Patrick Cummins was far from perfect; but let’s remember he is only a baby in terms of the amount of top-level cricket to which he has been exposed. The highlight of his day was his superb spell to Jacques Kallis, where the young quick thoroughly worked over the experienced and latterly hirsute all-rounder, doing him for pace in the end. There has been much talk about Cummins’ potential, the need to nurse him, and whether or not he will get quicker in the years to come. As far as I am concerned, he already looks a Test-standard bowler, and now must be pencilled in for the summer’s remaining Tests. The most glaring flaw in his style is a tendency to fall away at the crease, which means the ball will spear down the leg-side. But this is a minor flaw to which, no doubt, the army of coaches can attend.

I have long been an admirer of Peter Siddle, but the Test match arena demands that a player be more than just big-hearted. The Victorian could be classed as your typical battler: honest, hard-working, but lacking the class to be a true great of the game. I fear for his future at international level: he has never figured in the selectors’ plans for the shorter forms of the game, so his time in the Australian set-up may be running out.

Nathan Lyon’s figures of 1-41 off 11 overs reveal a couple of things. The first is that he has the ability to chime in with a wicket here and there, without ever grabbing a bag full. The second is that batsmen are able to steadily milk him of runs without trying (or wanting) to take to him. To be a successful off-spinner in this caper, one must be very, very good. Lyon is a long way from that, but it is sometimes easy to forget that in bowling terms, he too is a pup. Day 4 is, in fact, his twenty-fourth birthday.

And then there is the enigma of Mitchell Johnson (0/77). What are we to do about Mitch? Day 3 revealed an all-new abbreviated run-up (Craig McDermott tinkering a little too much?), and just the hint of some in-swing, leading some commentators into a state of apoplexy. Somewhere in the future, there is a story to be written about Mitch and his search for in-swing. It will read along similar lines to Monty Python’s search for the Holy Grail. Memo to Mr. Inverarity: Mitch’s time is up.

It is tempting to think that this match might have one last twist in the tail remaining. But the absence of Shane Watson from the bowling attack has been a massive blow, and one which will force the incoming selectors to think hard about not only the make-up of the bowling attack, but also the batting order.

About Darren Dawson

Always North.

Comments

  1. John Butler says:

    Smokie, the fact that the bowling line up is so dependant on the less than enduring bodies of Watson & Harris, plus the exploits of a rookie paceman and a relative rookie spinner is a tribute to the legacy of 18 wasted months under the now departing selection panel.

  2. Smokie

    I can think of many uses for Mitchell Johnson (i.e. bottle-shop attendant), but ‘test cricketer’ is not one of them.

  3. Peter Flynn says:

    Ponting’s face and demeanour looks like Manchester 2009.

  4. Peter Flynn says:

    Manchester 2005.

    Oops

  5. Ponting’s face looks like he may go out on a high. Every expert in Australia has written him off so he has nothing to lose. He was very good in the field last night and has thus far held the batting together. The first half hour will be the key tonight. If Ponting makes a hundred Australia win.

    Cummins is gorn. The press will see to that. His excellent performance will be gobbled up by them and he will immediately be elevated to champion and the constant barrage will be oppressive. As soon as he has an Alexander (Downer) they will be in there kicking at him and analysing the whys and wherefores as such great performers can. Should be a little sensible about him and let him develop quietly. He is one from NSW who is ok.

    Hilfenhaus will (get that, WILL) play for Australia again this summer. He is fit, agressive and dangerous. If you don’t believe me just ask the Croweaters.

    Haddin must play a team innings tonight. Surprisingly Australia have a big chance and they are due to show some spine. If Haddin throws it away they will throw him away.

    Hussey is due and this is just about his favourite senario.

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