Australia v South Africa – Perth Test: Australians take control



A typical start to a Perth Test match, blue sky 360 degrees all the way around the horizon, a bumping pitch and that pestiferous Sherry fellow’s inane comments attempting to destroy the atmosphere that the excited bubble of voices that the crowd of about twelve thousand was generating. The ground is now dominated by two blocks of flats. It appears that the ‘block of flats disease’ has hit Perth as well.


South Africa won the toss and elected to bat, something they would be regretting tonight. While early on the Aussies bowled with discipline, hitting what I call the WACA length, that length that hits the shoulder of the bat and only needs the slightest movement away to present the slips with a catch, later on the South Africans threw away their wickets with some C Grade cricket.


Cook was first to go, playing at a ball from Starc that he should have left on length alone, showing no organisation in his game. He was well caught by Mitch Marsh in the gully, so Mitch has actually done something in this Test.


Amla and Elgar received the WACA-balls, so fell to catches behind the wicket.


Duminy was given out, caught behind, a speculative decision, that the DRS could not confirm or deny. As an umpire I would have given it ‘not out’ all day. The DRS could not have reversed this decision either, and I wonder what happened to ‘benefit of the doubt’.


This decision left South Africa tottering at 4/32. The sting went out of the pitch. The sting also went out of the bowlers but the South Africans spent the rest of the day committing batting suicide. There was a series of small partnerships where the batsmen would look in no trouble until they would pull out the ‘get out shot’.


Du Plessis flashed with his head in the air but the dismissals of Philander and Maharaj summed up the South African innings. Both were batting with de Kock, who scored a most attractive 84. They appeared in no trouble but both played appalling slogs to lose their wickets. Whatever happened to the tail getting their heads down, holding up an end when there is a top order player going well? Eventually de Kock was out slogging at Starc but he could have no confidence in his partners. Steyn was out backing away, as most fast bowlers do, leaving all three stumps exposed to Starc.


I was looking forward to seeing Steyn, who has been the premier fast bowler of the last decade but he and the rest of the South African attack were hit to all corners of the ground by Warner and Marsh simply picked them off at his own pace. Suddenly the game reminded everyone of last year where the Kiwis and Aussies made thousands and everyone complained about the pitch.


The South Africans have to start well tomorrow. The outfield is lightning fast. There has been no sign of any swing in the air or movement off the pitch. Without bowling discipline, and probably some poor Aussie batting, the South Africans may have lost the match already.


There are a few green lines down the wicket showing a few cracks will become evident as the match goes on. Hot weather for the next two days so these cracks will open up and Lyon should be licking his lips.



  1. Thanks Phil.
    Love to find out points of local interest. High rise?
    I, too, wonder what happened to benefit of the doubt.
    These sorts of decisions seem to favour the home team.

    But it’s only Day 1.

    I’m reminded of the recent first Test v Sri Lanka.
    Day 1: Sri Lanka 117 (DM de Silva 24, JR Hazlewood 3/21, NM Lyon 3/12); Australia 2/66.
    But then
    Sri Lanka 117 & 353 d Australia 203 & 161.
    Sri Lanka won by 106 runs.

  2. When we had them 5-100 all I could think of was Jeff Dujon

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