Australia v South Africa, 2nd Test, Melbourne, 4th day December 29, 2005

'It's been a titanic struggle' - Arthur

Shane Warne, the 'master' of applying pressure on the men in zebra colours © Getty Images
Mickey Arthur, the South Africa coach, has called Shane Warne and the Australians "masters" at applying pressure on the umpires with constant appealing. As South Africa lost 6 for 43 in the final session the inquiries increased in volume, length and histrionics, especially as Warne was capturing 3 for 43.

Asad Rauf appeared to have words with Warne on a couple of occasions after drawn-out pleas and Andrew Symonds apologised to Steve Bucknor for not turning around to appeal when Adam Gilchrist caught Jacques Kallis' edge. "I'm just carrying on like a goose," Symonds said of his wicket-taking celebrations, "and I just might pull my head in a bit." Symonds, who picked up 2 for 6, was forgiven his lapse - his emotional releases have been caused by relief at settling in at Test level instead of pushing at the game's spirit - and the other group shouts were not reported by the match officials.

"I think they do it and they master it," Arthur said when asked if Australia pressure the umpires. "Warney is a master and he has an aura about him. He's a world-champion bowler and if we had bowlers like that we'd be placing the pressure on them too. I can never say it's wrong, but they do it."

Mark Boucher was South Africa's final wicket as they finished at 6 for 99 and he took the unusual step of walking after a brilliant close-in catch by Ricky Ponting off Warne. The Australians felt it was an obvious catch but Rauf shook his head and looked at his colleague before pointing at the departing batsman. "I have no problem with [walking] and it's in the spirit of the game," Arthur said. "There was lots of appealing and histrionics. He hit it and he walked."

South Africa finished the day in disarray after being torn by a 124-run partnership between Matthew Hayden and Symonds, who smashed six sixes in his 72, before their late batting collapse. Hayden posted his fifth century in seven Tests to finish the year with 1380 runs, but he was more pleased with the success of Symonds, his great cricket and fishing mate who opened his account with a straight six off Graeme Smith.

"He got off the mark with such an emphatic stroke and it just went on and on from there," Hayden said. "I'm quite happy to sit under the cloud of Andrew Symonds and watch him go the way I know he can go."

Hayden's 137, which included 14 fours and two sixes, came on top of a first-innings 65 and the way he countered a pitch with variable bounce offered another example of how he has recovered from his awful Ashes tour. "I've looked to be really patient, build an innings and play within myself," he said. "Thankfully today the heavens opened up a bit and I was able to express myself after a lot of hard work in this match. I batted a long time on a wicket seaming around a bit and in lots of ways I feel the hard work is behind me."

With only four wickets remaining South Africa have problems in front of them and Arthur said his players were down. "It's been a titanic struggle through Perth and into Sydney," he said. "We sort of knocked them but they came back hard and that's the sign of a champion side. We are a young and developing team and to play under that pressure something had to give. But it's not over yet, anything can happen."

Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo