Third Test – Day 4: Don’t dream. It’s Over.

Australia 10/322, South Africa wins the third test by 309 runs and the series 1-0.

Talk about nightmares. On the eve of the final day of this Test match, I had the type of fitful sleep that I presume Ricky Ponting would also have been suffering through. In fact, my night was so restless and uncomfortable that it was punctuated by a couple of nightmares.

In the first nightmare, I was an audience member on the set of the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Ellen entered the studio, dancing and jiving to the music; suddenly I saw that I too was dancing, jiving and applauding. All hail the great talk-show queen! I awoke in fright, swearing never again to drink James Squire IPA. The second nightmare was even worse: I was seated in the Channel 9 commentary box, mugging, joking and laughing along with my chums Slats, Binga, Tubby and Heals. With not a care in the world, and not caring a dot about the cricket match playing out before us. I again awoke, this time in a cold sweat. I cursed Channel 9, cursed the incessant blabbering of the new generation, and found that I actually missed Tony Greig.

After finally getting some shut-eye, I awoke to the SEN morning team fielding calls and texts from their listeners. The theme: what would you do if Australia wins the Test? It was unimaginative and inane stuff, and only made my mood sourer. Kelli Underwood even had her say on ABC-774, suggesting that stranger things have happened. I had been grumpy the previous night after listening to all manner of experts ruminating on the possibilities of Australia batting for two days and winning the Test match. On reflection, it is no wonder that I did not sleep well.

To suggest that Australia would chase down anywhere near 632 in the fourth innings of this Test was the stuff of fantasy. To hope that Punter would give us all one last winning hurrah was ignoring the reality: South Africa now had its mojo back and, despite their surprising failure to capture a wicket before stumps on day 3, they were looking the goods. Why were so many people ignoring the facts? An Australian victory was just never going to happen!

Although slow to reach top gear, this South African outfit has impressed me from the get-go. A deep batting line-up coupled with a brilliant fast-bowling attack – what’s not to like? Sure, Australia had the better of the two draws, but the Proteas scrapped in Adelaide like the number one team that they are.

It took them a mere two balls to get their inevitable victory party started when a purler from Philander got an edge from Warner. 1/40. Even those still nursing the wildest of dreams of an Aussie win would have started to waver at this point. Shane Watson played a couple of nice drives, but he lasted little more than an hour. Looking as uncomfortable as the only bloke in an all-female talk-show audience, Watto has just not been quite right in this match. 2/81. Even the true believers were beginning to doubt.

Punter arrived next, to a standing ovation and a guard of honour magnanimously presented by his opponents. But the two boundaries he struck were an illusion. The shot he got out to was almost as ugly as his two dismissals in Adelaide. His footwork so heavy this series, it has been the correct decision by Ponting to pull the pin. Suddenly Australia is 3/102. The dreams are over.

Lunch comes and goes, and it is a surprise to find that it is left-arm tweaker Robin Peterson breaking the back of the middle order.  Cowan falls for the three-card trick to Steyn, hooking straight down deep-square-leg’s throat. 4/130. Then the spinner outwits Captain Clarke. The Aussies are not nearly half-way to victory, but have lost half the side: 5/188. Hussey and Wade both play terrible shots and it is quickly becoming a real nightmare for the Australians and Mickey Arthur. And for those who were dreaming of a win. 7/198. And I admit, that although I did not even dream Australia could win, I thought they might put up a better fight than this.

Mitch Johnson is next to go. And with him the dreams of those who thought he may magiacally morph into a sort of Milleresque all-rounder. 8/204. Hastings proves that he will continue to be a handy ODI player but not a lot more (9/235), and then Mitch Starc gives a dumbfounding display of clean-hitting, smashing the bowlers to all parts. It really is an astonishing innings, and his 50 off 32 balls is the second quickest of any Australian batsman. He finishes unbeaten on 68 when Lyon nicks one to Smith. I can’t help feeling that Michael Slater, loudly urging on Starc to make a ton, is partly to blame for the final dismissal. I shudder as I recall last night’s nightmare (not the one with Ellen in it).

Australia has been bowled out for 322. South Africa has won by 309 runs. It is brutally convincing. I have a feeling I will sleep better tonight.

About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Smokie – nice one. The South Africans reminded me of a champion boxer taking on a talented youngster. The youngster threw everything at him (GABBA and Adelaide) and he took the punishment. Then in Perth he landed the knockout blow.

    They were just a better team.

  2. John Butler says

    Nice work Smokie

    I can just picture you and Ellen boogying away there. Another contribution to the Dancing Hall of Fame (middle aged white guys chapter).

    And yes, the Saffas looked and proved themselves the better team. Australia gave it a decent shot though.

  3. Yes Smokie, media coverage is very poor, TV, and radio. To even contemplate discussing Australia winning this test chasing 600+ shows the poor level of commentary we have to accept. Goodness, me the days of such noble doyens like John Arlott, and Nevile Cardus, are more than just last century, they are light years distant from the inane banter we must endure.

    I must take you to task re saying South Africa has a brilliant fast bowling attack, or maybe that is the acccurate in the context of contemporary international cricket, with a dearth of good pacemen. Steyn is the best fast bowler in the world, but is no Marshall, or Mc Grath. Good yes, maybe i can say very good, but a fair way from being anything more. Philander, Morkel are decent bowlers, comparable to say Bichel, and Rackemann. Brilliant to describe the three of them is a bit of an over statement, or does it reflect the lack of standout pacemen in world cricket?

    That’s my soapbox this morning,


  4. Jeff Dowsing says

    I gotta say Smokie I found the widespread delusion dumbfounding. From CA’s twitter feed to the 9 commentary box the positivity bordered on moronic. Maybe they were just taking the pi$$. Unfortunately the downside of test cricket is games like this that become a slow torturous death. Most other sports the agony is over with in an hour or two. I guess they have to say something to break the cycle of tumbleweeds.

  5. Smokie, the only solace I take from Slater and Brett Lee being in the commentary box is that it could be worse. At least their not on the Cricket Australia Board where they could actually cause some real damage…

  6. Tony Roberts says

    Don’t speak too soon, Litza – there’s a precedent for ‘Slats’ and ‘Binga’ (bewdy!) making it onto CA’s Board: Matthew Hayden (‘Haydos’ to the boys).

    No doubt heavily influenced by his times with John Buchanan and his little mate Justin Langer, QLD delegate Haydos subjected the Board to long psychobabble soliloquies for a couple of years after his retirement from the Test side in 2009.

    Hayden’s tenure was mercifully brief, as he was ruthlessly parodied into resignation by Peter Roebuck in the Age and SMH. Penalty: death.

  7. I don’t care where ‘Haydos’ ends up… so long as it’s not within 200-feet of a cookbook publisher.

  8. Thanks for the comments, all.
    Dips: that is an excellent analogy…S Africa certainly absorbed everything that Australia could throw at them in Adelaide.
    JB: actually, Ellen and I boogying together in the Ch9 commentary box would make for compelling viewing (like a car crash!)
    Glen: I must beg to differ re S Africa’s bowling attack. Dale Steyn’s record (299 wkts @ 23) stacks up well against the greatest of fast bowlers. Morne Morkel (for me the bowler of the series) is the thinking man’s paceman…the way he out-thought Watson (granted, probably not the most difficult of tasks) was like a lamb to the slaughter. Bichel & Carl would gladly be mentioned in the same conversation, I reckon. Vernon Philander is an excellent bowler whose record speaks for itself.
    Jeff: on Sunday night, the number of people who were actually contemplating an Australian win was unfathomable. Typically, the cheer-squad was being led by the Ch9 commentary box.
    Litza: every time I listen to B Lee in the Ch9 box, I actually despair for the future of civilisation as we know it.
    Despite the margin of defeat in Perth, Australia were far from disgraced in this series. It must be remembered that its two best fast bowlers (Pattinson & Siddle) were not playing. I reckon the selectors really need to get it right from here on in.

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