Australia v South Africa – Hobart Test, Day 1: South Africans sharp, Australians not



On the way to the cricket via Moggs Creek and Avalon we were lucky enough to have a hungry stop at Birchip in North-West Victoria.


Fortunate enough to be there just as the clock was striking 11 and the Armistice Day celebrations’ about to commence.


We joined in and my wife, a non-cricket fan, pointed out to me a History of Birchip calendar on the wall of the small room contiguous to the war memorial. In part it said  “1888 – Cricket comes to Birchip”.


In a wall calendar that chronologically outlines the complete history of a town it is not surprising, to me anyway, that cricket was such an important part of the social history.  Cricket is still played in the town 128 years on.


Plane was late arriving into Hobart and by the time I reached the ground Australia, who had been asked to bat had lost both openers for 2 runs. Warner (1) an abysmal stroke off Philander caught behind and Burns (1) got a good one from Kyle Abbot and was plumb.


Shaun Marsh will be glad he is injured with this carnage taking place.


The tirade of words that I heard coming from the media centre on Warner’s wicket could have filled a novel.  Such was the vitriol that the vice-captain and heir apparent would play such a shot in these conditions. Off with his head!


The weather is overcast and the lights have been on since the start of play but not for the Australians. If ever the lights are out it is now.


Khawaja (3) nicks to Amla at slip and Voges playing for his spot tickles the next ball to the keeper. Philander on a hat trick and the home side 4/8. Good bowling but insipid batting.


Glad I brought my wife with me. Might be able to go sight seeing on day 3.


Ferguson on a long awaited Test debut would have to be one of the unluckiest players around.  It was further exemplified when he was brilliantly run out from the deep for 2.  5/17.


Nevill’s big chance to consolidate his position in the team after his fighting knock in Perth got a beauty from Rabada and was gone for 3.  At 6/31 this was becoming more and more a disaster.


Australia go to lunch at 6/43 and the Proteas are cock-a-hoop while the Australians could not be more dispirited.  A wonderful bowling performance by the visitors.


A walk around Blundstone Arena at lunch did not improve the gloom and doom of the spectators. It is a typical Hobart cold day with the wind coming up of the river and biting into the spectators who are suitably attired for a North Melbourne home game.


A former Australian player said to me during the break that given a few months we will see a completely new Australian line up both on and off the field.  I will watch with great interest.


His statement will be further enhanced by the pathetic, deplorable – call it what you like after lunch when the remaining 4 wickets fall for 42 runs. Smith battled valiantly for 48 not out but he would have been ropable just the same. Mennie (10), Starc (4), Hazlewood (8), Lyon (2) all out 85. The lowest score ever in a Test match at Bellerive and Australia’s sixth lowest score ever. Boy will the press have a party over this and creating a few carcasses amongst the Aussies. The way the tail folded it was like they did not want to be out there. Smith deserved more support than he got.


Vernon Philander was magnificent, making the ball talk.  His 5/21 from 10 overs was his best performance ever. Kyle Abbott finished with 3/41.


Elgar and Cook don’t seem to be troubled by Starc and Hazlewood. There is no need for hurry as there is still 4 and a half days to go.  At tea time they are 0/43 and they are already half way there!


Don’t know what Smith said to the team at the break but Starc was superb in the first 20 minutes dismissing Elgar (17), Cook (23) and Duminy (1) to have the visitors reeling at 3/46. The have lost 3/3 and Australia are back in the game through Starc’s brilliance with good support from Hazlewood at the other end.


Amla and Du Plessis steady the ship for a time but Hazlewood bowls a ripper to the skipper and he goes for 7. A beautiful ball that has him plumb in front.  The Aussies continue to play aggressively and it is paying off.


The psyche of sports people is being sorely tested during this game by the Australians. It has gone from one end of the continuum to the other and back in the space of four hours. At the moment it is looking good. Like golfers the hardest part of the course is the five and a half inches from one ear to the other. No matter what is said off the field it is the energy and endeavour displayed on the field that matters.


The crowd is posted as 7929. Don’t know where they have all been sitting. Sounds like a Geoffrey Edelsten crowd to me. Very disappointing when Australia needed all the support they could muster. Those against Test cricket will be saying “I told you it was dead”. Perhaps the weather curtailed the numbers but I do know for a fact one could not get a bed in Hobart Town.


Hashim Amla is making amends for his failures in Perth and is holding his team together but not failing to play his shots and in particular his driving.


A good partnership is developing but Amla (47) slashes at Hazlewood and Nevill does the rest. Totally out of character for the SA stalwart. 5/132 but good work by Josh Hazlewood who has worked manfully through the South African innings.


Bavuma and De Kock are together now. In the short time I have seen them play this series they are the two players who can turn a game and they are still attacking late into the night.


By stumps they had moved the score to 5/171 with Bavuma on 38 and De Kock 28. Mitch Starc has 3/49  and Jos Hazlewood 2/36.


A fascinating day’s play that sees South Africa with the upper hand but a great fight back by the Australians in the last session. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.





About Bob Utber

At 75 years of age, 'Citrus Bob' Utber is doing what he wanted to do as a 14-year old: writing, talking and watching sport. How good is that!?! He lives in Mildura with his wife and 'furry kids'; a labradoodle "Freddy Flintoff" and a groodle named "Chloe on Flinders".


  1. Mark Duffett says

    The rain looks like it’s finally arriving now. If the forecast is to be believed this time (as opposed to Saturday), day 2 might be the one for sightseeing, I don’t like the chances of any play at all. MONA is indoors…

  2. Callum Ferguson may well be unlucky, Citrus. But his dismissal was unforgivable for someone who has played so much first class cricket.

  3. Chris Bracher says

    Tough conditions and a great toss to win but where has the notion of graft, dead bat and mental discipline gone? David Warner…..I’m with the “off with his head” camp. Dumb. Surely they can’t be contemplating that man as the future Captain of Australia?!

    The value of Chris Rogers at the top of the list as a solid, disciplined, play-within-the-arc, nudge it around traditional opening bat is underscored after his departure. Is Joe Burns the man to provide the counter-balance to Warner’s ” flair”. For some reason the selectors are drawn to him like they were to Damien Martyn and Michael Bevan. Can someone tell me why Ed Cowan is now out of favour with selectors? Has he had a Dean Jones/Laurie Sawle/ Bob Simpson moment that has slipped under the public radar?

  4. I suspect Cowan (a) picked the wrong side in India (b) under-estimated Watson’s support in the team (c) batted like a pork chop in England (d) made too much of a big deal of getting starts and getting out (as if it was a good thing) (e) retired, showing his heart wasn’t in it.

    Surely Carters or Maddinson or anyone under 25 couldn’t o any worse? i mean, compared to Voges – how do you score less than zero?

    best squad available says Lehmann. See yaa, dazzler. You’re cooked.

  5. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Based on Warner’s last two innings, I’d be checking those OLED tv’s for brain shrinking gamma rays.

  6. Chris,
    Peter touched on it…Ed Cowan was in the Mickey Arthur camp.
    His cards were marked.

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    Look forward to Warner’s second innings knock. He owes his teamates, and his country. Horrible shot that instantly gave South Africa momentum.

    Best broken finger S.Marsh has ever had.

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