Australia v South Africa, 3rd Test, Perth, 4th day December 3, 2012

When Ponting and Clarke averaged the same

Plays of the day from the fourth day of the third Test between Australia and South Africa in Perth

Honour of the day
As Shane Watson walked off the WACA having been caught at slip, it began to dawn on the fans who was next in. Spectators sitting on the grassy hill on the east side of the ground jumped to their feet to acknowledge Ricky Ponting, and the moment was not lost on Graeme Smith. He organised his men into a guard of honour near the pitch, and they were joined by the not-out batsman Ed Cowan, the 12-strong guard clapping Ponting as he walked through for his 287th and final Test innings. Ponting shook Smith's hand as he made his way through the guard of honour and it was a genuinely touching moment as one of the toughest cricketers of the modern era acknowledged another.

Stat of the day
Ponting walked off the field for the final time as a Test cricketer with a batting average of 51.85. He was replaced at the wicket by Michael Clarke, who had two balls to face before the lunch break. He drove Robin Peterson through cover for four and then dispatched another boundary straight down the ground. The eight runs meant Clarke also went to lunch with a career batting average of 51.85.

Six of the day
Ed Cowan is not renowned for clearing the boundary but he did so with a slog over the long-on rope when Robin Peterson served up a full toss that was asking for punishment. It was Cowan's first six in Test cricket, and in his tenth match he joined one of Australia's all-time greats, Neil Harvey, who only ever hit one six in his career. The list of all-time six hitters features some surprising names, perhaps most notably the so-called "corpse with pads on", Bill Lawry, who struck 15 sixes in his 67-Test career. Lawry's fellow commentator Ian Chappell might not want to know it, but he hit the same number of sixes as Lawry - but took eight more Tests to do it.

Kiss of the day
Morne Morkel was on the receiving end of one of the cutest acts of brotherly love a few years ago. When both he and Albie were named among the five SA Cricketers' of the Year, Albie posed for a picture giving his younger (but taller) brother a kiss on the cheek. Today, Morne passed some of the love on. When Dale Steyn drew Michael Hussey into the drive and accounted for Australia's sixth wickets, he let out a war cry. Morkel and AB de Villiers responded with only affection. Morkel gave Steyn a series of pecks on the check and de Villiers handed out some too as South Africa celebrated knowing they would remain No.1.

Fight of the day
Australia were hurtling towards one of their worst defeats in Test cricket but Mitchell Starc provided late entertainment with a quickfire 68. As though providing a sneak preview to the Big Bash League, which starts on Friday, Starc cleared the boundary with ease, his best shot the swing over mid-on off Vernon Philander with the new ball. Starc also took eight wickets in the match, with six in the second innings, but still ended up on the losing side.

Celebration of the day
Dale Steyn promised a show in the final Test and delivered with seven wickets in the match, including the one that ended it. After a defiant stand of 87 runs by the last pair, Steyn got Nathan Lyon to prod and one and Graeme Smith took his fifth catch of the innings. Steyn celebrated on the pitch with arms out and then jogged to the non-strikers' end to grab a stump and used it as a bat to mime a slog over midwicket.

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  • Mansoor on December 4, 2012, 6:58 GMT

    Few comments from my side:

    1. I felt very sorry for the fruitless performance of Starc it seemed SA vs Starc! ( 8 wkts and a stunning half century not out.)

    2. Duplessis was not given the due respect by his captain after his heroics in the 2nd test. A man like him playing at no 7?? he top scored in the 1st inning and remained not out having no one to stand by him, yet very strangely he was not even promoted to no 6 just to come before Mr Elgar who did nothing in the prev inning!! 3. And a very interesting contrast between the devilliers of the 2nd test 2nd inning and the Devilliers of 3rd test 2nd inning. He scored 169 in this test 2nd innings playing balls less than he played to score 33 runs only in the 2nd innings previous test!! (He scored 33 playing 220 balls without a boundary!! slowest ever devilliers that was i believe)

  • Dummy4 on December 4, 2012, 5:14 GMT

    Did anyone notice that SA bowlers did not concede a single No ball in the whole match, forget about an innings. Well they didn't have Immy and Rory, however Morne and Vern too are serial offenders. Good to see such a disciplined effort.

  • Mick on December 4, 2012, 5:02 GMT

    Can only agree with those pointing out the hard but fair nature of contests between these sides. No quarter is ever given, and none expected. But there is no doubt respect runs deep. Its a shame some other tourists arrive with big talk about playing hard but when it gets too hot go running to their chartered 747 - ready to take their bat and ball home.

  • Pratyush on December 4, 2012, 3:27 GMT

    Absolute Respect for Punter. He is 'the' man India has feared all along in the Aussie camp. Never liked him for rubbing us the wrong way always! But my God, he was a genious. At his prime, he clearly was the best Test Batsman in the world. The Last of the Greats of the Game.

  • Dummy4 on December 4, 2012, 0:53 GMT

    sorry to see you this...

  • Dummy4 on December 3, 2012, 19:42 GMT

    This is the minimum this guys deserves for his reluctant entertainment which he has provided for 17 long years.......

  • Mike on December 3, 2012, 17:54 GMT

    Hats off to those saffers, there hard as nails with the talent to back it up. And you have to enjoy watching Steyn charging in ! But fair play to OZ they fought well but when the key moments arrived they bottled it. And it was a fine gesture to Ponting which shows why Cricket is the best game going.

  • subra on December 3, 2012, 17:13 GMT

    What ever teams we support we talk good and bad against each other -lets not forget one thing -games should develop frienship and love than hatred . Iam thrilled to see fans all over the world have given nice words about Ricky just like they did it for Lara Rahul Kumble and others. This is the true meaning of sports.Iam dreading the same moment when Sachin is going to do the same as we will be missing all the senior legendary players from the international scene.

  • Dummy4 on December 3, 2012, 16:55 GMT

    Best Cricketer/Batsman/Captain we have seen in this era. Thank you punter all the best for your future

  • Dummy4 on December 3, 2012, 16:07 GMT

    He deserved that guard of honor. I don't know how many times I would get my hopes up that the Proteas might win whichever test (there were quiote a few) - and then along came Punter!

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