South Africa V Australia – Johannesburg – Second test – Sunday

20 November 2011 – Day 4

South Africa 266 & 339

Australia 296 and 143/3

 

First Session

South Africa resumed with an overnight lead of 199 and seven second wickets in hand. It was to be an extended two and a half hour session with an early start due to time lost on the previous day. Hamish Amla and AB de Villiers picked up where they left off the previous evening. Patrick Cummins bowled a fuller length ball just a bit wider of the off stump. De Villiers played way from his body. The ball swung away late and took the edge. Michael Clarke at second slip took the catch. de Villiers was gone for 73 of a 147 partnership that had seen South Africa in a comfortable position.

 

Ashwell Prince, an inferior player in my opinion to JP Duminy, joined Amla but only got two before Amla ran him out. Amla pushed a ball square on the off side and took off for a quick single. Amla hesitated causing Prince to stop and turn back. Amla then continued on and Prince was forced to go for the keepers end. Ricky Ponting is still a fine fieldsman and pounced on the ball sprinted to the wickets to dislodge the bails leaving Prince well short.

Amla completed his century to go with the one he got in the first Test. He is at the pinnacle of his powers with great concentration, confidence, and a wide array of shots on both sides of the wicket. Mitchell Johnson got him soon after he reached the milestone with a good rising ball angled across him and close to the off stump. It rose more than he expected and committed him to a shot that found the edge and travelled to the keeper.

Mark Boucher was once a reliable batsman, but in recent times his batting has declined. He poked around until Nathan Lyon entered the attack. Lyon got him with his second ball that was well flighted with some drift away through the air. Boucher did not really get to it and edged it to Watson at slip. South Africa were now 266 for 7, and Australia were getting quite animated. Philander and Steyn had other ideas and carried the score to 314 for 7 at lunch.

In this session, Michael Clarke did not take the new ball until about the 95th over. He bowled Cummins extensively and, at one stage, changed him to the other end. He dropped his pace and his line became a bit ragged. By the time the new ball was taken, Cummins was tired. Cummins has an eighteen year olds developing body. He needs to nurtured and well managed so that he does not burn out or suffer injury.

 

 

Second Session

Youth brings great energy and recuperative powers. With his first ball after lunch, Cummins bowled a brute of a delivery to Philander. It rose sharply off a good length just outside off stump. Philander got his bat as high up as he could- so high that it eluded Hot Spot, but it was not enough. The ball touched his glove and went to Brad Haddin. Morne Morkel must have thought he was in for the same treatment, but Cummins is a thinker and bowled him first ball with a beautiful yorker. Imran Tahir saw off the hat-trick and lasted the over. Dale Steyn decided to go on the offensive and lofted Siddle for a big 6. In Cummins’ next over, he tried the same. Mike Hussey on the boundary leapt high and caught it only to tumble backwards over the rope. Steyn hooked the next ball for a lucky four. Steyn took his score to 41 before Cummins found an edge that Haddin took low down.

 

South Africa got to 339 thanks to the efforts of the tail. It may just be enough to decide the outcome.

Cummins bowled well to get 6 for 79. He is a real prospect. Mitchell Johnston reduced his run up to 7 or 8 steps, but was largely ineffective. Peter Siddle toiled away but did not significantly trouble the batsman. Nathan Lyon is the latest in a long line of spinners who have followed in the wake of the Warne/McGill era. He looks better than any of the others and bowls with flight, loop, and some drift. He picked up two vital wickets in this innings.

Vernon Philander opened to Shane Watson with a nicely shaped outswinger. He followed up with an inswinger. For some inexplicable reason, Watson lifted his bat and then did not go through with his shot. The ball took the off stump. Watson has done this before in his career, and you wonder where he is at mentally at the moment. Usman Khawaja joined Phillip Hughes. In Philander’s second over, he offered Hughes one wide of the off stump. Hughes responded with his signature cut square for four. The next ball was much closer to the off peg, Hughes went onto the backfoot was cramped for space and opened the face of the bat to direct the ball straight to the safe hands of Jacques Kallis. Hughes has a big future giving slips catching practice to school kids.

Ricky Ponting joined Khawaja in the third over. Ponting dug in. They pushed the score along to 64 for 2 at Tea. Khawaja showed some nice shots with his low grip on the handle where both hands are close together. Definitely not a grip found in most coaching manuals. Ponting played a couple of his trademark shots where he picks the ball up on the rise and plays it through mid-wicket. It is a beautiful thing to watch.

 

Third Session

Ponting and Khawaja pushed after tea taking things along steadily, Both reached the half century mark as Graeme Smith rotated his formidable bowling armory. Imran Tahir got Khawaja on 65 when he trapped him on the crease with flight and then a wrong ‘un that turned away from Khawaja and took the edge to Kallis in the slip. Michael Clarke faced one ball before bad light ended the days play.

 

Australia are on 142 for 3 with 168 still to get. An intriguing final day awaits us all.

 

Some Thoughts

  1. This is why Test Cricket is the most absorbing and thrilling of all sporting contests. It captures the imagination, the heart, the soul, the gut and churns it all together as events unfold. The game could be decided very early tomorrow morning or it could be a day of heightened emotions that leave both players and spectators either ecstatic or despairing, but nevertheless all drained when it is over.
  2. Phillip Hughes is not a Test class batsman. He lacks the technique and the mental application to play at this level at this stage of his career. He needs a long period in the Sheffield Shield and also in England against the seaming ball to see if he can rise to the standard required. Khawaja’s knock shows that here is a place for him at Test level and he should replace Hughes immediately.
  3. Mitchell Johnston is a lost soul. He lacks consistency and does not seem to bowl to any sort of plan. He is down to a short run up that takes away any fluency in the delivery stride. His round arm style means that too many balls drift to the leg stump to be picked off for easy runs.
  4. Ryan Harris is Australia’s best bowler at the moment but his 32 year old body is showing too many signs of wear and tear to play consistently at the Test level.
  5. Peter Siddle is a whole hearted trier who does not do enough with the ball to get sufficient wickets at Test level.
  6. If the new selection panel wish to gamble, they would do well to select NSW left arm quick Mitchell Starc to replace Johnson, and Queensland right arm quick Ben Cutting to replace Siddle. Together with Cummins then would represent a very inexperienced pace attack, but Australia’s problem in recent times has been an inability to take 20 wickets in a Test.

 

JJ Leahy

Comments

  1. John Butler says:

    JJ, sterling effort to get this delivered.

    Technology can be as unreliable as an Aussie batting line up sometimes.

    Having said that, it would be just like them to get the runs tonight.

  2. Hilfenhaus.

  3. John Butler says:

    Is that some kind of Tasmanian Buddhist chant Phantom?

  4. Peter Flynn says:

    G’day John,

    Some thoughts are spot-on thoughts.

    Cheers

  5. Peter Flynn says:

    G’day Phant,

    Hilfenhaus is not the answer. A well-tried gelding like Siddle. It’s hard to be critical of these dudes though because they try so effin hard.

    Thoroughbreds are on the horizon.

    The age-old question relating to thoroughbreds however is keeping them sound.

  6. Peter Hulthen says:

    Well wriitten, John. I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments. With MIckey Arthur and John inverarity, it seems that the Sandgropers are taking over. Maybe they’l promote one of their own for the Kiwi Tests.
    Too much cricket does burn bowlers out especially on the harder grounds of Australia and the sub continent. Let’s see how Cutting goes for Australia A. George Bailey seems to be the flour of the month in Shield cricket. Apparently, he is a great leader.

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