South Africa v Australia Second Test Day 1

by Peter Flynn

Australia once had a ‘Big Ship’ as captain. Now it’s South Africa’s turn to have a skipper who cuts an imposing figure.

Smith and Clarke look like Big Nick and a young Ted Hopkins as they make their out for the toss.

Smith wins the toss and decides to bat. It seems a sound decision judging by the appearance of a predominantly brown Johannesburg strip and a super slick outfield. Clarke’s recent lack of success at the toss must have him beginning to doubt that coin tossing is a 50/50 Bernoulli experiment.

Two Aussies who showed some degree of grit in the Cape Town calamity are injured. Marsh has gone home with a recurrence of a back problem. His fitness is a concern. And the price he places on his wicket will be missed. If Marsh puts a premium of a million rand on his wicket, then by comparison, Haddin places one Zimbabwean dollar on his.

In the Hilditch era, leading the Australian attack doesn’t necessarily mean you are the top-rated bowler in the country. Harris, who recently has been the most accomplished bowler in this XI, is out with ‘stiffness’. If this affliction continues, maybe the porn industry is his calling where ‘stiffness’ is an essential quality.

Is it acceptable that Harris can’t play in back-to-back Tests? I reckon if Harris can’t, then the selectors should identify someone who can play closely-spaced Test matches. Even Gary Gilmour with elevated uric acid levels in his system would have been pronounced fit enough to play.

The Harris imbroglio means yet another reprieve for Johnson. A case of an imbroglio producing an imbroglio. He could be the first Test cricketer to play 200 Tests and average 45 with the ball. On Australia’s last tour to South Africa, he was Sobers. On this tour, he is a pace version of Watkins.

This morning, he opens the bowling with the young tyro, Pat Cummins. Did Cummins warrant Test selection after playing just three first-class matches and taking 9 wickets at 40-odd? I reckon no.

Cummins’s first Test spell demonstrates a need to straighten his approach to the wicket. Johnson’s early faecal offerings result in a handful of cover driven boundaries from Rudolph.

Then a shock. Johnson takes a wicket.

Johnson entices Smith to play at one that leaves him off the track, resulting in a comfortable catch to Clarke at second slip. Amla, who bats a little like Zaheer Abbas and has a square drive to die for, arrives at the crease and takes awhile to get going. Can you believe it? Somebody is constructing a Test innings like an old-fashioned Test batsman.

Rudolph succumbs to that canny bowler Watson for 30. He looks like a 30 man for mine (kampf).

In walks Kallis. Usually his approach to batting is measured, risk-free and even a touch soporific. Today he is in a belligerent mood, racing to a sparkling 50 in about 40 balls. His cover driving and lofted driving are imperious. Kallis’s sweet timing is such that even a defensive bunt through cover-point somehow manages to reach the rope. During his innings, he passes 12,000 Test runs. At an average of 57, that’s a fair return.

In the meantime, Watson appears to pop a hamstring in his follow-through. At least this could mean that he doesn’t open the batting.

Lyon bowls the last-over before lunch (spin of course) from Billy Bowden’s end and gets carted by Kallis. Are Silly Billy and Lyon brothers? Granted that this claim is made through eyes that look like Map 2B of the Melway, I reckon they bare a strong resemblance to each other.

South Africa goes to lunch at 2/107 after just 25 overs. The over-rate is deplorable and Bowden manages to remind fans that he can still give a Barry Crocker of a decision. Kallis gets a big inside nick on an LBW shout that Billy reckons is plumb. The DRS comes to Kallis’s aid.

The first hour after lunch is action-packed. South Africa loses 2/61 in 13 overs. Not long after flicking Siddle over deep-square for a Tom Mix, Kallis plays a strange shot to Khawaja at mid-wicket who takes the overhead catch with Bartelesque conviction and technique. South Africa is now 3/123 and Kallis played one of those innings where, like Tiger Woods, he probably scored too quickly for his own good.

Six runs later, Amla, who was coming off a brilliant hundred at Newlands, flashes at a full wide one from Cummins and is well caught by Ponting for a battling two-hour innings of 19. South Africa is now 4/129 and Cummins has his first Test victim. Ponting’s batting may have deteriorated but his catching hasn’t. What a superb fielder this Mowbray man has been. I can’t think of too many people who were born with such incredible hand-eye coordination.

AB de Villiers and Ashwell Prince share an industrious partnership and head to Tea on 4/213. AB De Villiers hits 10 boundaries in his half-century. He’s not to be underrated. And he can score all round the wicket, particularly off the back foot. That’s what good players do. Watson should study his precise and adaptive footwork. Neither batsman suffers the ignominy of being dismissed by Mike Hussey’s wide and slow offerings. A Malmsbury B Grader wouldn’t either mind you.

Play is delayed by 15 minutes after Tea due to a malfunctioning sightscreen. What a farce. Ladders and curtains form the basis of a temporary solution. Immediately after the resumption, Prince bats like a millionaire. Lucky top-edge sweeps off Lyon and three boundaries to a vacant third man area off Siddle take him fortuitously to his 50. Billy continues to fidget and fart-arse around. If it isn’t the light meter, then it’s the out-of-shape-ball-tester. Billy contributes to slow over-rates.

Prince, with indolent footwork, perishes meekly (holes out to mid-on) to old man Lyon for 50 and then Cummins takes a fantastic catch (off a top-edged pull) to help remove the impressive de Villiers for 64. South Africa is suddenly 6/243. The proverbial pendulum has swung Australia’s way. Lyon, who seems to have aged five years today catches “Mats” Philander plumb LBW for a globe. South Africa is suddenly 7/243.

Boucher top-edges a hook shot off Siddle down to pensioner card-carrying Lyon who takes a really good running catch. The Proteas will be rueing this collapse. Careless batting and poor shot selection have contributed to a 4/4 batting collapse. At 8/245, the Proteas have lost their way. Are the abridged forms of the game to blame?

Under the lights, Clarke comes on and removes ‘Tuna’ Morne Morkel caught by Watson at slip and Imran Tahir caught at short-leg. South Africa is dismissed for 266 (Ponsford’s highest Test score). The extent of South Africa’s collapse is 6/25.

What is 266 worth?

An intriguing second day beckons.

Comments

  1. John Butler says:

    PJF, immaculate line and length there. With just the right amount of spin.

    The way this ‘series’ is being played, who could predict what 266 is worth?

  2. Hi Peter, love your take. I can get to sleep and you tell me all the action that I missed in my snooze. Great report and I feel like I was there. The problem is, normally such events would excite us all, but now we wait with trepidation to see what the Aussies can make of this? As John says, who knows if all out for 266 is good. It all depends on what they do to our shaky side tonight. Good watching.

    See you at the launch

    Yvette

  3. well spoken, You never know the value of a first innings score until the second team has batted. I watched preview on Foxtel and loved Mark waugh ” I hope they get smith early, I hate watching him bat”. Very refreshing!

  4. Whatever 266 is worth, the Australians, batting second, will need to score 100 more than it to make par.

    It wasn’st so long ago that losing 6/25 in a Test would have been considered a dramatic collapse. Not these days, especially after last week.

  5. Excellent job, Flynny.

    Day 2 looms as a watershed for Australian Test cricket. For either good and bad reasons,
    or maybe both! Careers could be revived or extinguished. Every Australian who cares
    about the Test team will be keeping a keen eye or ear on this day.

    Re Day 1: What on earth was J Kallis doing? He was playing like it was a 20/20 match and
    must bear some of the responsibility for S Africa’s collapse. He is a brilliant player, but his
    silly dismissal in the first dig (as wickets were falling around him) was demonstrative of a
    player who is putting agression above all else.

    Do the shortish boundaries of the Wanderers lull batsmen into playing like millionaires?

  6. Correction re Kallis above: I meant to say “First Test”

  7. Re “the Harris imbroglio” – imagine if Ryan’s surname had been “Natalie”.

  8. Agree with Smokie both on the importance of this day to Australia and the profligate batting by Kallis and, by the looks of it, a few other South Africans. As I said last week, I reckon the obsession with 20/20 cricket is causing some real problems with players’ capacity to play long, responsible innings. Last night was the 3rd batting collapse of the series and neither team has passed 300, despite reasonable batting conditions.

    On that basis, assuming they can get to at least a 3-figure score, I would much prefer to see Australia finish today at 2/220 rather than be all out for 350. They should be setting their sights at batting for two days, not just to build a big lead, but to rediscover the art of occupying the crease.

  9. Stainless,
    “Occupy the crease” is a comment I constantly impress upon the U/15 & U/17
    boys I coach.
    Upon which they look at me like I am from another planet!

  10. An overhead catch taken with Bartelesque conviction and technique. Love it. Peter, does an imbroglio have anything in common with a seraglio? I’m confused. Cheerio.

  11. Mr Flynn

    I listened to the first over being bowled as I drove home from Safeway, having more gathered than hunted. Then I promptly forgot about the cricket as I was consumed with kids and dinner and homework (Jackson is in Grade 3 and has a project that includes “present[ing] a labelled map of the Roman Empire and writing a rap song about Roman times – Grade 3!) and bedtime. In fact it is only this evening that I have had a chance to check the scores. Assisting Grade 3 Roman Empire projects can really take it out of a 49 year old.

    Did I go to The Age for a summary? No, I went to the Almanac and your review was just what I needed. Concise, enlightened and funny. No, that not praise for your report, I was merely thinking of words people would use to describe me. Actually, they would never use concise.

    Great report. I love your way with, through and around words and ideas. Below I have selected several that really got me giggling.

    “Harris, who recently has been the most accomplished bowler in this XI, is out with ‘stiffness’. If this affliction continues, maybe the porn industry is his calling where ‘stiffness’ is an essential quality.” I get it Mr Flynn, it was there and shame on any boy/man/guy/bloke or fella that wouldn’t find room to include a dick joke. Kudos to you.

    “The Harris imbroglio means yet another reprieve for Johnson. A case of an imbroglio producing an imbroglio.” Even better than a dick joke, an imbroglio joke.

    “Not long after flicking Siddle over deep-square for a Tom Mix …” Tom Mix made his last film in 1935 (the same year he was made a Texas Ranger) and I don’t think one in ten people under the age of 40 would recognise your reference. So, kudos again my good friend for ignoring Gen X, Y and Z’s world view for us oldies.

    Cheers

  12. Good read, Sneaky. Liked the reference to Kallis’s approach to batting as ‘measured, risk-free and even a touch soporific’. I’d go further. For mine, despite his impressive career stats he has a lot to answer in terms of the decline of Test match cricket. Over the years Jacques has single handedly ensured that many entralling Test matches have petered out into a dreary draw by his tedious ‘occupation of the crease’. A career strike rate of 45.12 in an era of strong South African sides, illustrates the point (compare with 59.14 for another profilic No. 3/4 – the soon to be de-listed R.T. Ponting).

    Therefore, all the more surprising that Kallis was ‘slapping the cherry’ (a term Ryan Harris may soon be encountering in his new profession) all round the park yesterday.

  13. Dave Goodwin says:

    Just caught up with the day 1 wrap belatedly. Well done Flynny. Best blog banter I’ve read in a long while boys and girls.I finally discovered the meaning of that LOL term those Gen X, Y and Z-ers keep using.

  14. Peter Flynn says:

    Thanks all.

    Kind words.

    Rick, currently in Freo waiting for the Doctor.

    Cheers,

    PF

  15. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Fantastic Flynny reading this on the morning before the 2nd test wouldn’t mind this scoreline tonight and I think Harris is our key bowler in this test
    ( what odds would you have got that , Harris is lining up for his 7th test in succession and that , Cummins is still stuck on 1 ) love how you manage to mention , Bartel in what ever you are writing about and enjoyed the mats philandeer line
    I was in , Sydney when this test was on for fellow Knackery member , Dan Hansens wedding and due to , Nick Papa Raschellas snoring hardly missed a ball bowled
    Great summary PF

  16. Peter Flynn says:

    Cheers again Rulebook.

    Old mate Bartel does get over-referenced by moi.

    Nothing’s changed.

    Watto should study AB de Villiers.

    PF

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