Australia v South Africa 2008-09 / News

Australia v South Africa, 1st Test, Perth, 5th day

Australia's aura fades away

Brydon Coverdale in Perth

December 21, 2008

Comments: 93 | Text size: A | A

The attack that was once the most threatening in the world is now no more than moderate © PA Photos

The full extent of Australia's decline over the past year has been hard to gauge until now. Wins against weak opponents have masked the problems but a demoralising series-opening loss to South Africa in Perth has brought them crashing down to earth, so much so that Ricky Ponting doesn't know if his batsmen or his bowlers are the bigger concern. It is a most unpleasant position to be in.

In the lead-up to the series there were hints that Australia felt vulnerable. Ponting and Tim Nielsen tried to pile the pressure on South Africa by raising their poor past history against Australia. It wasn't on the level of pre-series bluster that Graeme Smith had launched in 2005-06 but it brought back some of those memories. Smith later admitted he was trying to deflect attention away from his own developing side and, with such an evolving Australia line-up, it looked like Australia had hatched a similar plan this season.

It didn't work then and it hasn't worked now. The fact is that Australia are not the side they were and their No. 1 ranking is more a legacy of their past dominance than a reflection of their current situation. They beat New Zealand and West Indies this year but those are frail teams and they are currently trying to bore each other into submission in Napier. A 2-0 loss in India was more revealing, as was Australia's narrow escape at home against India last summer.

The attack that was once the most threatening in the world is now no more than moderate. Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath have been replaced by a succession of bowlers, who have gone through the selection revolving door. Currently Jason Krejza and Peter Siddle are being given opportunities and as much as Ponting has insisted the men are up to Test standard, it is unrealistic to expect a pair with a combined 39 first-class matches' experience to be matchwinners.

Neither of them took a wicket in the second innings at the WACA, when Australia could not defend 414. Siddle alternated between bowling too short and too full and South Africa rarely looked worried by him. Krejza was never going to replicate his 12 wickets on debut in Nagpur and while he bowled some potentially wicket-taking balls with bounce and turn, he also sent down some of the longest hops since Qantas started its kangaroo route from Sydney to London. It was a joint effort that has forced Ponting to reassess his opinion of them.

"They're kids really that haven't got a real solid foundation if you like of first-class cricket under their belts," Ponting said. "So maybe my expectation on those couple has to go down a little bit. But they're out there playing for Australia and I expect them to be able to do a job."

Ponting readily conceded that Mitchell Johnson was the only man who really looked like getting wickets. He picked up 11 for the match but it wasn't nearly enough. Brett Lee did not bowl badly as such but one strike for the game was an underwhelming result from the man who is supposed to lead the attack.

"His pace and swing probably weren't there this game but he actually bowled pretty good areas and kept things as tight as or probably tighter than anyone else in our side right through the game," Ponting said. "But saying that, that's probably not his role in our team either and we expect him to have some impact with the new ball and that wasn't there in this game."

There are also concerns over the batting. Matthew Hayden's future is unclear after another failure, Michael Hussey is not in danger but needs to regain his form and Ponting's own contributions are becoming less reliable. Several Australian batsmen threw their wickets away with streaky shots in Perth, including Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke in both innings, and it was a trend that left Ponting fuming.

They are problems Australia need to solve quickly. Following a return-tour of South Africa, Australia head to England to defend the Ashes. Ponting has lost the urn once and it would be an irredeemable stain on his legacy if he handed it over again. The immediate job is to come back from 1-0 down to win a three-Test series. It is something Australia have never achieved in 130 years of Test cricket. For a team whose aura is fading by the day, it might just be too great a task.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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Posted by Proteas_no-1_Fan on (December 24, 2008, 12:20 GMT)

1st Test was a Thriller. I really enjoyed the Test match. It was a seesaw battle. But in the end It was too easy for Proteas who won by 6 wickets. They could have chase 500 or more runs on that pitch. That gives the good idea of the pitch and how well Proteas Bowlers had performed in this match. It is very good to see all the Bowlers are among the wickets Unlike Australia only Mitchell Johnson has performed well. If this thing continues surely Australia will really struggle to match with Proteas because Proteas can only concentrate on Johnson's Bowling and they can dominate the other Bowlers. Australia's Top Order failed on both the Innings and It will also cause a major trouble to Aussies. Proteas bowled well fielded well and batted well and they deserve this victory. And If they win the series against Australia at Australia they thoroughly deserves to be world No-1. I rate this victory as the Best Victory since their Readmission.

Posted by CricketLoversRuleTheWorld on (December 23, 2008, 16:26 GMT)

Well for last 2 decades Aussies r the bench mark.. I hope they ll b back soon.. just give them some times.. I think their bowling is the worry at the moment...

Posted by vibhas on (December 22, 2008, 22:00 GMT)

Australia is still reeling from these defeats, as players do, teams do, because that's what teams are, a group of players. If you people cannot accept that Australia is currently out of form, and keep on telling us that India and South Africa are the top teams, well, you need to think a lot more. Australia are still THE top team, if they lose a few matches well, it's pretty easy to forget the wins they achieved only 1-2 years ago. Okay, they lost the best wk batsman, best spinner, and best paceman, lee is out of form, they struggle to find a quality spinner, but they are in a very important phase. If they keep their head down, they will slide down to no.3, over the next 2 years. However, if they keep their heads up, make some changes they will resume being utterly feared, where a win over them will be just like winning the ashes, even though you still lose the series.

Posted by RohanMarkJay on (December 22, 2008, 20:51 GMT)

The South African trend I think re-inforces a recent trend in world cricket that will continue for a long time to come. In view of the decline of Aus as the no 1.In future we will not see an all powerful team sweep all before it all over the world with awesome players who can win matches from any position. No those days are gone.The days when the West Indies being number one in world cricket during the whole of 1970s and 80s. And Australia being Number one in world cricket during the whole of 1990s and 2000s. With players like Warne, McGrath, Waugh and Gilchrist et al. They totally owned cricket in the 1990s and early 2000s. The days of total domination of one team for an extremely long time are over. What we will see in the future is teams like India, England, South Africa, WI and Sri Lanka hit number one and hold on for one or two years before declining markedly. Allowing other teams to take topspot no team can dominate for like a decade in Number one. Like WI and Aus in the past.

Posted by AnyoneButVettel on (December 22, 2008, 16:15 GMT)

It clearly is beyond every cricket lover's comprehension why Nathan Bracken is out of the Test team. To me personally, Stuey Clark is more an ODI bowler than Nathan - who is more a wicket taking bowler than a maiden-overs machine. So if Clark deserves to be in the team, Nathan deserves it even more. Taking nothing away from Mitch, this is partly why he got those 8 wkts in the 1st inning.

The thing that puzzles me further is let alone the nonsense Chappell & co, even the aussie media doesn't put forth his case. Ridiculous. What else are the likes of M. Waugh and S.MacGill paid on television for anyway?

Posted by CricketisMyPassion on (December 22, 2008, 15:09 GMT)

Australia is still a strong side buy definitely on the downhill. Not for nothing do you call Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath 'great'. When such great bowlers retire together, along with another great Adam Gilchrist they are bound to leave a huge hole behind that cannot be filled by new talent like Mitchell Johnson overnight and consistently. It is sad to see a great side decline but then the wheel of fortune turns. It is time for India and South Africa to fight it out for the top spot in the next 4 to 5 years to come with England lurking as a dark horse.

Posted by popcorn on (December 22, 2008, 12:24 GMT)

How come all of you guys who are dancing to the Australian defeat,and you reporters,did not think it was doomsday when Steve Waugh's Team could not defend 417 against the West Indies? So quick to blame the current Aussie Team? Swallow your words,soon,mate.

Posted by zohebchampion on (December 22, 2008, 11:35 GMT)

Australians are on the decline. this series will dispel if there is any doubts in any bodies mind.

Posted by mrgupta on (December 22, 2008, 10:54 GMT)

I guess you have placed it right 'klempie'. All doubts have been answered well. Though i am an Indian but i sure feel that SA are currently the Best Team followed by India and Aus. I know people still cant believe that India has been doing better than Aussies since last 1-2 years. Those who didn't realize should know that India has beaten England in England (Actually English haven't beaten us in a series since 1996), WI in WI, Won matches against SA, Sri, Aus & Pak on their Home grounds. Look at the records from last 6 years (Statsguru- 2003-08) and you can see that Only Aussies have a better overseas record than India. But kudos to SA for a great performance... They have a Superb leader in Smith and a very strong team indeed.... best of Luck to both teams for the remaining matches.

Posted by scallyvag on (December 22, 2008, 9:47 GMT)

Are Australia's bowlers really that bad. Mitch was the only bowler from both sides to live up to the hype. In reality SA has the same lack of potency as the Aussies, when you consider that at least 15 Aussie wickets were lost through stupid shots. I believe the Aussies issues are with their premeditated need to dominated no matter what. They got a cricket lesson yesterday, that sometimes it's better to score 414 singles and win rather that hit 20 boundaries and get bowled out for 150.

Posted by klempie on (December 22, 2008, 8:07 GMT)

A few facts you Aussie whingers are forgetting.

1. Clarke was injured - Well so was Prince. 2. Krejza and Siddle are inexperienced - I give you JP Duminy with a match winning 50. 3. The pitch was rubbish didn't have typical WACA bounce and pace - 15 Aussie wickets were taken by fast/medium pace bowlers. Krejza took 1 of 14. 4. Hayden got a shocker - Duminy's first innings clanger.

The fact of the matter is that you lot are in trouble. Big trouble. Seems state cricket isn't as strong as everyone cracks it up to be after all! I still can't believe you lost after that Johnson spell on day 2. We'll be number 1 by the end of the summer and finally we can get that smirk off Punter's face!

Posted by Vilander on (December 22, 2008, 8:00 GMT)

two points

1, bring back warne if you want to salvage hte current series

2, sydney against ind was a joke, dravid had daylight between bat and ball not to mention sachin and ganguly decisions, bucknor should have been relegated from the elite planel

Posted by prabackar on (December 22, 2008, 7:49 GMT)

I felt very happy that RSA could pull this match in great style. Back when India toured Aus Everyone knew that "Australia's aura had faded away" but the fact was no one(Aussies) accepted the fact because of their wins against weak oppositions. Ricky and the coach always tried to hide this fact by talking with media different things about the opposition. Aussies EGO, Arrogance is clearly evident. When Aussies loose the don't greet their opposition properly and it remains the same even when they win and with this they always speak about the "Spirit of the Game". It's was always funny. The saddest part, the downfall is evident and I guess it will be tough to see the best from Aussies for sometime from now.

"Without wicket taking bowlers any team is weak" McGrath, Warne have been true legends. But I believe Warne should have nursed a spinner right towards his end of career.

Posted by bokkefan on (December 22, 2008, 7:18 GMT)

The defeat couldnt have happened to nicer people! How sad to hear "punter" passing the buck, cannot say he performed very well himself.

Posted by asimzafar10 on (December 22, 2008, 6:55 GMT)

well in my money its too early to say this, they are on top in rankings for a decade. From the Steven Waugh's team victory in worldcup 1999 they started to maintain their winning run for a long long time. It has been hardly seen that Australia lost test matches in any part of the world. During this tremendous run they're challenged once only & that is by Michael Vaughan's Ashes triumphant English side in 2005. But this year has been proved very bad for Australia, specially the problem which they faced against India, first they were beaten by them in the World Series and then the test series defeat by india in india. The special thing about that defeat was Australia didn't win a single match in the series and lost two matches. Thats what we don't see very often. May be that is due to the number of matches they are playing in different parts of world. Cricket Australia must think over it. Downfall is virtually impossible for them as they have strongest domestic structure on the back.

Posted by GCTian on (December 22, 2008, 4:22 GMT)

Aus aura fades away especially after the retirement of Glen, Shane and Gilly as they are gifted and probably the best in their trade world cricket has ever seen. Any captain would have won matches with them on board as they can win matches from any situation. Ricky is not Steve Waugh. Steve is a natural leader where as Ricky is a meritorious product of the great Aus system. Need of the hour for Aus cricket is a Great leader like Steve. Remember the spat between Lee and Ricky at Nagpur against India, a clear indication of the dividing line in the Aus camp and Ricky's hegemony over his team is facing a decline. Ask, Steve, Mark Waugh, Mark Taylor, Langer et all, Aus is not team to live on past glory. They always shelve the players before the expiry date to replenish with new stock. What happens when there is no stock and cupboard is empty. That's what happens now. Need of the hour is great bench strength. Hope Ricky can perform an Autumn Sonata to restore the semblance of great Aus aura

Posted by SHANTIRATNAM on (December 22, 2008, 4:13 GMT)

I remember RP saying they will continue to be the Number 1 team even if SA thrashed aussies 3-nil. This is correct, RP has accepted that the only way aussies can be the number 1 team is based on their historical performance and not based on the current performance. Many say RP is still the best captain for aussies, but I wonder is that correct? They lost ashes to England, Lost to India in India and almost lost to India in Australia if not for the umpires and now they have lost to South Africa. The aussies simple don't have quality bowlers to get wickets when it matters, the current bowlers can take wickets at their own pace not at the pace the situation demands for the aussies. Well Done South Africans, you guys deserve a lot more, bad luck has prevented many more for you guys.

Posted by Turne on (December 22, 2008, 1:58 GMT)

At the end of the day it is clear that the Aussie team is at best the 3rd best in the world at this time maybe even 4th (we will see after the ashes), who is top will when Inida can win away from home in say South Africa then they can claim the prize.

Posted by gxw65 on (December 22, 2008, 1:45 GMT)

I am tired of the all those Indian supporters who claim that the Indian team would have won the recent test series in Australia if not for assistance from the umpires. The simple fact, which seems to be overlooked by everyone, is that India were unable to bat for 75 overs on the final day. They were bowled out by part time spinners in Symonds & Clarke on what was still a very good batting wicket. Also, to claim that India is close to being the No1 team in the world is laughable, this cannot even be cosidered until they consistently win series away from home.

Posted by Rishhan on (December 22, 2008, 1:27 GMT)

Firstly, congrats to south Africa for chasing 414 and claiming their historical win over Australia. it's a good experience and a lesson for pointing to play with a site without a adequate blowing attack, where in the past Warne and McGrath doing all the work for Australia. but hats of to Johnson for keeping Australia on the winning edge. mainly, Ricky pointing should stop blaming pitch, curator Sam Sutherland and players rather than improving and moving from their lost. I think its time for Hayden to go and especially Austrian selectors should look to pick more players from Victorian state team. well done smith.....

Posted by plsn on (December 22, 2008, 1:01 GMT)

Now that Aussies are done and dusted in their own backyard and with SA in to the fore, the real test of Dhoni's mettle is about to be exposed. Is he really a brilliant captain ? Or, was luck his saviour?! World of cricket is going to see some exhilerating cricket from these top 3 (or 2! Australia?). Wish Dhoni more luck- if that is what being numero uno means in the world of cricket. Hope Punter agrees!!

Posted by vibhas on (December 22, 2008, 0:58 GMT)

Australia are still a dominant team; in any sport, the top team will be challenged. Like america, in the previous olympics, were heavy favourites, but did not win gold or silver, when they were expected to easily dominate the opposition. Australia is going through a slump, and it doesn't help their cause when teams such as india and south africa are at the top of their game. Australia, on average, is still the top team, once they regain their form, the doubts over their head will soon be quelled. The things australia need to go in their favour to dominate again are not actually a long list:

Captaincy, the captaincy should be handed over to someone else, ponting should spend more time in vice-captaincy if at all, if he can't / doesn't hussey / hayden / lee should take over.

Lee- Lee must regain form, johnson is currently leading the team in bowling...

Haddin- Should have less pressure put on him, a couple more knocks will prevent any muttering

Ponting- Batting form ......

Posted by triassicpark1 on (December 22, 2008, 0:54 GMT)

Hahahaha. What a game. Truly amazing. As a strong Indian supporter living in Perth, I went to the WACA with a clear mind, free of pressure and emotions and hoping for an Australian defeat. Mind you, I like everything about Australia and Perth except for the bunch of arrogant 11. These days you have to make it 12 because their new coach speaks 1000 times more than his predecessor. Anyways coming back to the point, I went on all days except for the 5th day, as I had a genuine reason to miss that day. Fascinating cricket. I wonder how Ian Chappel can suddenly concede defeat within a span of 24 hrs and say that SA played very well and finish it off. In his column yesterday he had said that ' Expect Australia to win' !!!!!. There was a comment by 'tweaker' in another post under the title' chokers no more' where he has been critical of Ian Chappel. My only word of advise to Ian is that there are better ways to make a living, rather than dishing out euologies, being biased.

Posted by Robeli on (December 21, 2008, 23:55 GMT)

2 things. First, this test is so typical of the previous tests betweean SA & Aus - except the roles was completely turned around. Secondly, my view of Ponting as a captain has dropped dramatically - he has NO clue how to captain a losing side. No clue! Just look at his field placements and utilizing his bowlers. Smith are miles ahead of him. He has experience from both sides. The tide has turn. I predict a big loss in the Ashes for them (besides the losses they will have against SA both home and in SA before that).

Posted by T-Farabi on (December 21, 2008, 23:18 GMT)

Ponting says: "So maybe my expectation on those couple has to go down a little bit. But they're out there playing for Australia and I expect them to be able to do a job-". Are you really serious about the second line? Even after making 0 and 32 in such crucial test? I think it's time for you to join in politics. You will do better in that circus.

Posted by 79KAH79 on (December 21, 2008, 23:12 GMT)

Australia's defeat is disappointing but not entirely surprising. To put it simply Australia have not been able to replace McGrath and Warne. The added loss of Stuart Clark really effected Ponting's ability to suffocate the South African batsman into mistakes. Runs were given away too easily which is not surprising given that Lee, Johnson, Siddle and Krejza are all highly attacking bowlers. The placid WACA pitch really exposed the Aussie attack's problems at present. Lee is down on pace and out of form, he needs to add more subtle variation to his repertoire. Johnson is developing into a fine test player and has a big future. Siddle is promising, but has maybe been rushed in a bit too fast. I would also like to see Ashley Noffke, Nathan Bracken, Brett Dorey, Ben Hilfenhaus or Doug Bollinger in the mix. To put it bluntly, Australia do not have a spinner with even a proven first class record. The selectors think that Krejza has potential and I agree that he is worth the risk at present.

Posted by 1958 on (December 21, 2008, 23:11 GMT)

Mr Punter said that they will try to open the wounds, but now it time is to lick their own wounds. Well done SA, keep it up.

Posted by bubloo on (December 21, 2008, 22:58 GMT)

Many congrats to the RSA team for whooping the Aussies and reconfirming that Perth is no longer an Aussie fort. It was a true team effort and keeping their nerves cool helped RSA in the end. I was always confident that they have the required fire to beat the Aussies and I'm so proud of their hard work; don't stop here Smitto, keep on marching non-stop. I believe the Australian batsmen were not to be blamed for this embarrasing defeat, it's the incapacity of their bowlers who couldn't either defend such a big total or take 10 second innings wickets. No one expected Krejza to repeat his Nagpur heroics or Siddle to be a bowler in Clark's shoes. But yes, we did expect some early inroads and more wickets from Lee and some bowling contribution from Symonds who is supposedly in the team as an allrounder yet didn't bowl a single delivery in the second innings. Punter again didn't trust Katich to roll his arm over for a few overs. Bring in Tait & Bracken/Bollinger for the next game. Cheers.

Posted by sri1ram on (December 21, 2008, 22:48 GMT)

At least now there should be no doubt for Australian fans that India should have won the series in Australia 2:1 (instead of losing it 1:2) if not for Bucknor's antics at the SCG! This current team is decidedly inferior to the one with Warne/Mcgrath. Which is why Ozzies were at their venomous worst in the SCG game because they were well aware that the #1 status would have been lost 6 months to a year in advance. Well, as so many have pointed here, what goes up has ultimately come down with a loud crash. I do not think that replacing Siddle with Stuart Clark/Shane Watson will bring that much sizzle back in the fizzle - but it would be fun to see Australia trying their best to bounce back only to be punched blue in the face by RSA.. Kudos RSA!

Posted by frednork on (December 21, 2008, 22:43 GMT)

ponting is unhappy with lee, everyone is unhappy with ponting. keep him in the team as one of the worlds best batsmen, but move the captaincy on to new blood. The australian team is not the team it was - we cant ride on the shirttails of the old team, we need to rebuild and do it with a mind of the long term future, not the next couple of years... SA have planned long and hard for this moment, as did england in 2005. Australia is bouncing from one test to another like the england of old, we need to pull back, test out new players, give them a chance and regroup with intelligence. SA - congratulations, and I am really happy you won, its about time the australian team has a reality check that they cant squirm out of (india has been outplaying us for a while, but no-one in theh australian team want to admit it!)

Posted by EckardPotgieter on (December 21, 2008, 22:35 GMT)

What a lot of us knew, Australia refused to recognise/admit - Shane Warne was a once in a life-time phenomenon, greater than anything around ever. Look, I hated his guts as much as any South African (and all non Australian) cricket supporters in the world, but apart from his physical ability he also had the psychological presence to turn any match onto its head, umpires knees to gello - he won matches for Australia that would have been lost, he ruined many a fine batsman's career including Darryl (Shane's Bunny) Cullinan, I could go on and on. It was only Australian arrogance that didn't realise that and thought that cricket Nirvana will continue status quo when he retired - somebody will drop his surfboard on the beach, don the baggy greens and life is hunky dory, bobs your auntie, waltzing mathilda, tie me kangaroo down sport!!! As in all walks of life things happen in cycles. Realise that the king is dead, start living with mortals. Good Luck, SA supporter!

Posted by sgma on (December 21, 2008, 22:07 GMT)

great match. lets give australia a break. every team has its ups and downs. i admire the team but at the same time am happy that international cricket is not so one-sided as it has been for almost 10 years.

Posted by PeteB on (December 21, 2008, 22:03 GMT)

This result sets the series up really well. I'm still unsure about Johnson. But he's clearly getting better. It's been said before but we need that inswinger Notch! I thought Siddle bowled OK. He needs more test match experience but we can't really risk that being 0-1 so I expect he'll be replaced by Bollinger, Bracken, maybe Hilfenhaus. Lee needs to be given more time. He's bowled some great deliveries. The batsmen are good enough but they need to play their percentages better and maybe try hitting the ball along the ground a bit more! I'm not 100% certain about Symonds. He's not bowling much anymore so is he the 6th best bat in Australia? No. Are there allrounder options? Yes. But he is still an excellent and proven bat. Haddin looked excellent and confident but he needs to think a bit about where the match is at. But of course all that ignores the solid batting by South Africa. To be honest neither side's bowling attacks looked great on a disappointing WACA pitch.

Posted by sameermu on (December 21, 2008, 21:55 GMT)

Congrats SA for chasing down the second highest successful fourth innings run chase . It is pretty clear that apart from M.Johnson Oz bowling was hopeless. Australia's top order needs to score more and stop throwing their wickets away. I was impressed wit Oz's tail

Posted by Foxx74 on (December 21, 2008, 21:32 GMT)

Shame popcorn, there you go with that ausie arrogance again; you guys are real sore losers!!! Finding faulty with the umpires again; you are not the only side getting poor decisions, and hayden's wicket did not cost you the match. This is a team sport, aus has for far to long relied on match winners like warne etc. will still learn how to lose gracefully.... You guys sure know how to make victory sweet!!! even if SA loses the next 2 tests; this 1st would still rank up there as one of the best wins by SA over Aus in Aus!!! Yes

Posted by niraj13 on (December 21, 2008, 21:15 GMT)

It is refreshing to see other teams ending the dominance of Australia in world cricket. This was bound to happen some day. Of late, Australia were trying to rely just on mind games rather than playing good cricket. The Sydney test against India was a clear testament of that. Like Byron pointed out, they were clearly exposed during their recent tour of India. It is going to be a long way for Australia from here to rebuild-it might take a couple of good years. But again, the leaders of Australian cricket need to understand that they need to concentrate on nurturing pure cricketing talent rather than the expertise in using negative tactics against their opponents. Lastly, let us not ignore the fact that India and SA really deserved their wins regardless of how the Aussies performed. They are certainly the top two teams right now and should share the top two ranks between them.

Posted by Synaesthesia on (December 21, 2008, 20:59 GMT)

Saying Ponting must retire is just ridiculous. The man has an average of 58 and any team in the world would want him in their fold. He can look at his captaining, but the team is to blame if they lose.

Nathan Bracken should be considered, he is an excellent bowler with a proven ability to take wickets,

Posted by turabjohnson on (December 21, 2008, 20:48 GMT)

Everyone should just wait before making any assumptions about this series. who knows maybe australia can come back but doesn't look like it. Shane Warne was right, in the old days with mcgrath, warne , gilchrist they didn't a coach and now i think that all the hype given to ponting was for no reason as a captain. Now without the superstars he looks like an ordinary captain. before anybody makes india the number 1 team , they have to win overseas consistently. may be india beating south africa in south africa can prove it but right now they are winning at home which they always did.

Posted by shalivahana on (December 21, 2008, 20:18 GMT)

Time for Ponting to quit, nobody is looking at his captaincy. The goofed up 'overs making strategy' in India, when India was looked vulnerable. In this match symonds was not asked to bowl, and is batting is not reliable. May be time for him to hang up the boots along with Hayden, and Aussies need to look towards rebuilding the team. Ponting not a great or shrewd captain unlike his predecessors, his captaincy was masked by quality players like, Mcgrath, Warne, Langer, Gilchrist; so when the chips are down the captaincy comes out in the open .. Ranatunga and Fleming were the best and the made the best out of the limited talent they had, Ponting is nowhere near them.

Posted by Swamy.M.K. on (December 21, 2008, 20:12 GMT)

If i re collect my memory, Ricky Ponting has asked this (PNair)press reporter to be removed from the conference room, since he has questioned about sledging tactics used by his tead against INDIA at SCG ground last year.

"I think it is Karma - Ponting and Hayden suffering from the brand of cricket that they play, they have used dirty sledging and accusations to pysch the opponents. Look at the previous captains like Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor or Alan Border, all of them were agressive but very nice gentlemen off the field. Ponting should think of transforming himself and inspiring the new breed of players a la Border... Posted by PNair on December 21 2008, 16:42 PM GMT"

Ponting should go back to drawing board to learn lessons from his seniors as to how to play a gentle mans game " CRICKET" then yes, he will win games.

Posted by bonala on (December 21, 2008, 19:50 GMT)

Australia lost on the 4th day itself when it allowed SA to make more then 200 runs, rickey did not put pressure on SA, he was quite in defensive mode all the time, atleast he should have opted the 8-1 startegy and should have bowled completely on the off side, I did not see SA was under real preasure at any point of time. being the number 1 team in the world, they forgot 1 thing.. stop the runs, keep pressure, then the wickets will automatically comes.. Betterluck to Aussies for the next game, and weldone SA, keep it up.

Posted by YoBro on (December 21, 2008, 19:47 GMT)

CA has to stop buckling to BCCI and encourage yesteryear bowlers like Gillespie and anyone else remotely associated with ICL to train youngsters on Test match winning skills.

Posted by YoBro on (December 21, 2008, 19:44 GMT)

Ponting needs to quit as captain. Nobody noticed it when Warnie and McGrath were around. But with his stupidity coming to fore during the last Test in India when they had a chance to win and here, in not giving Symonds the ball. He is utterly incompetent. He has to go back and focus on his batting. I'd probably give it to Clarke. Having said that, the Aussies are on a rapid decline. Losing back-to-back Tests at Perth is a terribly bad sign. Their bowling attack looks completely toothless.

Posted by umangsagar on (December 21, 2008, 19:33 GMT)

A great win for the African team, and as far as Australia goes, well of late the team has been all ego less quality cricket...they have of late shown way too much dependence on verbal and filthy word combats rather than quality cricket, all it has done is taken their own focus away from the game as the young India boys gave them back more than they thought. Aggressiveness is no ones property and it has been shown to earstwhile mighty Aussies by the Indians and now South Africans......hope they learn now, and come back as the quality team they once were and delight all cricket fans like us with their amazing consistency and cricket.

Posted by benbarker on (December 21, 2008, 19:26 GMT)

"They beat New Zealand and West Indies this year but those are frail teams and they are currently trying to bore each other into submission in Napier"

A little off topic, but this seems like a narrow-minded and frankly slightly wooden comment. Surely equally skilled teams playing against each other is exactaly what cricket needs. We only need look at other recent cricket to see how entertaining it is when evenly matched teams play each other. From what I have watched and read there is nothing boring about this match. Are we then to assume that in Brydon Coverdale's opinion the only cricket that matters is top teams against each other. Thats great for the future of cricket, if we have to be insulting about anyone that isn't playing India, South Africa or Australia.

Posted by Tim_the_Wiz on (December 21, 2008, 19:20 GMT)

Australia's bowling is looking very weak at the moment. Lee is out of sorts. Clark's injured. Siddle looks out of depth. Krejza is decent, but nothing special. Johnson carried the entire load this Test.

Bring in Nathan Bracken, he can actually swing the ball and take wickets. He's the best ODI bowler in the world and has performed great in First Class cricket for the last season. I'd also bring in Watson for Krejza, who's been in great form of late. The selectors just have to face up to it, unless you have a high-quality spinner at the level of someone like Vettori, don't play these spinners. Putting them in the baggy green doesn't make them the next Shane Warne. Of course, they'll probably stick with Krejza and play Shaun Tait or something instead of Siddle.

The batting line-up is fine. They've had a bad run of form, but they're still the best guys for the job. Yes, even Hayden and Symonds. Those two just need more time.

Posted by GCTian on (December 21, 2008, 18:34 GMT)

Australia's woe continues after the retirement of McGrath,Gilly and Warne as these three are naturally gifterd and can win games from any situation. RIcky is not Steve Waugh, To lead an Aus team, one has to be a Natural leader and a good captain. Steve and Border were natural leaders. Ricky was a product of the great Aus system. There lies difference. After the trios retirement, Aus weakness were exposed and opposition were quick to cache in. It has become imperative for Rickie to perform an Autumn Sonata to restore some of the semblance of the great Australian Aura. Time is ticking for them to get the bench strength going. India enjoys a great bench strength. Sooner or later, India's Aura will flourish and Aus aura will diminsh and that has become the order of the day. Aus's syetem is renowned for not living on past glory. Ask Steve, Langer, Mark Taylor Mark Waugh, Gilli.Hence it's time for Hayden and Ricky to hang the boots, as a Natural leader is waiting in the name of Michael Clark

Posted by IsDon on (December 21, 2008, 18:34 GMT)

It is now time that Hayden got the same tap on the shoulder that Border, Boon, S and M Waugh received. At 37 he is past it and he is kidding himself if he thinks he can come back.He might not have been out caught and bowled but he was definitely out lbw before that. Siddle disappointing, Krezjka got 12 wickets in Test Number 1 BUT he conceded over 300 runs in getting them. Bowls far too many rubbish balls. Clark and Symonds both threw their wickets away in both innings, this reeks of arrogance. Surely Clark cannot be the future captain. I have vivid memories of him snicking Kumble to first slip yet refusing to walk.....

Posted by ksthind on (December 21, 2008, 18:13 GMT)

hi congratulations to sa for historic victory i think aus era of dominancy past away but still they got still some good players problem at the moment with aus is that they got some old and some very young players who r performing but not with consistancy it will take time to build a good aus team as it take time for ind and sa to build.yuvra, dhoni,gambir ab devillers mckenzie amla were moderate players few year back but now they r best in the world any great player take time to eastablish like sachin warne etc i think its a time for ind and sa dominancy in cricket

Posted by y2vk123 on (December 21, 2008, 18:07 GMT)

No doubt australia has been a great test team.With the likes of Warne,Mcgrath,Langer,Ponting performing consistently,they felt invincible.But wakey wakey,the sun has to set and anything that goes up should come down. The lean patch now will continue for a while.Till then its better if aussies learn to swallow the bitter pill without fuss. And it will be nice to see the retired ones helping the upcoming cricketers insteading of making rubbish statements to media like Mr.Mcgrath who said " I predict it as 3-0"..!!! May be he was talking about SA.

Posted by back_foot_punch on (December 21, 2008, 17:49 GMT)

This was an excellent achievement by SA and after seeing Graeme Smith in the fourth innings, I had a nagging feeling this would be one for Australia to lose. Smith's century was a delight to watch and the team's batting was rock solid in that innings because of the confidence instilled by the captain.

However much Australia have slipped these past couple of series, it's an overstatement to say they will slip to the levels of WI and NZ. They still have talented players, just not regular match-winners like Warne and McGrath. It definitely makes Test cricket worth watching knowing the Australians are now not unbeatable but still remain highly competitive.

Posted by Hardy_1984 on (December 21, 2008, 17:40 GMT)

absoultely brilliant amazing run-chase we have seen. It was brillaint match & now the time australian fully frustrated and thinking they will lost the Number 1 Test ranking in future they are missing big names Gilly, shane & Mcgrath. Greame leading the way for his country for historic win. South african team is full talent all guy's did well for SA. I am very sure Australia will lost this series also. So, Australia eara is gone. Congrants to SA for their historic win.

Posted by NIT2222 on (December 21, 2008, 17:29 GMT)

well done to south africa, they played a excellent cricket.Actually krejza and siddle should be rested from tour and bring back some other bowlers like brett greeves or stuart clark. mathew hayden should be resigned from team and phil huges should be given chance to play instead of hayden. Nathan bracken is also a better option instead of spinner. If ponting doesnt take any further serious step seriously then aussie will be gown down.

Posted by indroc on (December 21, 2008, 17:12 GMT)

SA is the the team. India and South Africa are the top teams. Australia in the decade will be like New Zealand and West Indies only above Bangladesh. Lee is horrible and Siddle Siddle is bowling like a 15 year old kid. Ponting is a horrible captain he should step down for 2 reasons he is not captain he was in the 2003 WC. 2nd he is blaming the loss on youngsters like Siddle and Krejza look back at how batted in the test he has got a golden duck in the first innings and 32 in the second innings. The bowling was a complete failer for Australia excluding Johnson. Hayden and Ponting need to retire. Indroc

Posted by Caveman. on (December 21, 2008, 16:46 GMT)

Congratulations to South Africa. I think its high time that Australians started easing Shaun Tait back into the international fold.

Posted by PNair on (December 21, 2008, 16:42 GMT)

I think it is Karma - Ponting and Hayden suffering from the brand of cricket that they play, they have used dirty sledging and accusations to pysch the opponents. Look at the previous captains like Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor or Alan Border, all of them were agressive but very nice gentlemen off the field. Ponting should think of transforming himself and inspiring the new breed of players a la Border...

Posted by AyrtonS on (December 21, 2008, 16:32 GMT)

Folks, These are two great cricket teams battling it out over a 5 day period (it is called test cricket, the real stuff) what more can you as for as a real cricket fan.

I have no doubts that Australia will bounce back. They are a great team with some very talented and focused individuals, Rickey is in a position that is very foreign to him, but it will make him stronger and they will bounce back.

Just sit back and enjoy, you do not get to see this stuff too often. The game is being diluted way too much with the meaningless shorter version games.

Posted by CharonTFm on (December 21, 2008, 16:25 GMT)

It was a well deserved win from the SA, but it was also a well fought out fight with the Aus. 1st Innings 3/15 SA could have strangled Aus there and then, but good come back from Aus middle/lower order batsment. SA could have produced a high 1st Inning chase until their lower order was all bowled out by Johson. It was an interesting game where both sides had the chance to win which made Test Cricket so interesting.

Warne & McGrath and Gilchrist was the worse and best thing to have happened to Aus. Because of their legendary skills the bar has been pushed up so high that expectations from players in Aus can seem unreasonable.

It will be interesting to see the rebuilding phase of the Aus team. Nice if Hayden can finish on a high. Aus has a good batting stock to continue the legacy, but the selectors should give more opportunity to the pace bowlers who have had international caps. Siddle was never that threatening in India and back at home. Good to keep Krezja in for more exp.

Posted by Sudhirhk on (December 21, 2008, 16:20 GMT)

It was a great match and a remarkable victory. Fortunes swayed like a yoyo and finally stopped at SA's victory. Hats off to Smith and his team for this momentous win. Though, Aussies did have good players, they also used to get the umpires' favor as well, combined with their "win at all costs" attitude, sledging the opponents, which frail teams would fall prey to. Now teams like India and SA doesn't give a damn. They know how to give it back in kind and after that Sydney test fiasco with India, umpires are scared to favor the Aussies anymore as the viewers around the world are more aware now when they watch the matches. All this has resulted in Australia's aura fading. Well, if they have to win the series now, they have to bring back Steve Bucknor to officiate in the remaining two tests, might help them regain some lost glory. ;-)

Posted by ashock on (December 21, 2008, 16:10 GMT)

Ponting was never needed to steer the ship with winners like Mc Grath, Warne, Gilchrist and Damien Martyn. This is the team that needs a captain and Ponting has been found wanting in inspiring the team to perform. Ponting must be sacked to give this inexperienced but talented team a paradigm shift.

Posted by perl57 on (December 21, 2008, 16:02 GMT)

An absolutely over rated version called Ian Chappel said, expect an Australian win. Then it was clear that scoring 180 runs in a day albeit fifth day was possible even for Zimbabwe against Oz also. This shows how much of over confidence australia had. Even in this article one thing which is not fair is, "....narrow escape against India at Home". We all know how narrow was it. Thanks to a ludicurous umpiring and extremely sportive gestures from the spoilt brats of the world cricket has tilted the balance of the series. Australia had truly lost when they hosted India. Not today.

Posted by Synaesthesia on (December 21, 2008, 15:53 GMT)

Well done to SA, I am so proud. However, we must be wary as Australia certainly have the means to bounce back. If Hayden, Ponting or Hussey get stuck in they can cause huge problems.

The Australian bowling lineup is looking weakish without Stuart Clark. I am very surprised that Nathan Bracken is never considered as a test bowler. I rate him highly, he has the ability to take wickets. He is the no.1 ODI bowler in the world. "Nathan Bracken puzzled at prolonged test exclusion" - a cricinfo article

Posted by Hitarth1987 on (December 21, 2008, 15:30 GMT)

I suspect that we shouldn't read too much into this game. Siddle & Krejza played their only 2nd Test and definitely looked fazed when confronted by a pressure situation. Lee is out of form now. Johnson was Australia's only hope. And to be honest, as a Test-Match bowler, Johnson is seriously over-rated. (His performance in 1st innings was a bigger surprise than South Africa's chase in the last innings.)

A few conclusions:-

==>>> With this bowling line up-Australia now can not afford to play just four bowlers. Now they will need 5-specialist bowlers including an in-form Brett Lee and Stuart Clarke.

==>>> Australia's batting top-4 failed in both innings here and therefore Australia were never in control of the game. However, this will not happen often as Australia's top-4 are still of brilliant quality, they are better than South African top-4 when you compare them head-by-head.

==>>> Test Cricket has now become an equal Three Horse race with Australia - South Africa - India.

Posted by Chimpdaddy on (December 21, 2008, 15:24 GMT)

The most true statement:

"The fact is that Australia are not the side they were and their No. 1 ranking is more a legacy of their past dominance than a reflection of their current situation"

It is time to admit that Australia are not the same force. They are no longer No.1 in the world. Without champions Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist and Langer the side lacks much of that venom. I honestly put South Africa and India as the two best sides in the world, and it is time some of the Australian commentators see that.

So what's left in the Australian side? Lee - he has lacked venom. He keeps it tight, but does not get swing, movement, nor has that sheer pace to keep batsman jumping around their crease. Johnson - The only class act, 11/14 wickets, bravo son, take a bow. Siddle - are you kidding? Why is he playing. No international experience, a dud bowler. Can't swing it, can't keep it tight, useless. Krejza - Come on...this guy has no hope. Gone are the days of Warne, McGil and Hogg.

Posted by jokerbala on (December 21, 2008, 15:21 GMT)

One thing I cannot fathom is, how Nathan Bracken, the no 1 ODI bowler does not get a place ahead of Peter Siddle.I'm sure Siddle has the numbers in domestic cricket to back his selection. But the Johnson,lee,Siddle combo offer almost the same stuff.They are all "hit the deck hard" kind of bowlers.What the Aussies need at the moment is someone who swings the ball at a regular basis. Unlike many of the others here,I do not expect an Aussie resurgence if they retain the same bowling unit.

Posted by Gharo on (December 21, 2008, 15:13 GMT)

Am a SA fan bt i want to know why Peter Siddle was picked instead of Nathan Bracken he is well experienced we have seen how well he plays in the ODI why cant he be picked for a test match he is a very good player if the Aussies are to have a chance of wining this series he must be included tel u what SA have a weakness against left hand bowlers

Posted by Hardbody on (December 21, 2008, 14:58 GMT)

I'm proud of my boys for showing their true fighting spirit. Chasing down the 414 was great, but fighting back after the Johnson spell was what impressed me most!

But what I feel needs to be spoken about, is Ponting's immature finger-pointing! An honourable captain will take responsibility for his teams below-par performance. It's the captain's job to pull a team together, to motivate and unite them, and get the best out of them. To stand there and point the finger of blame at the poor inexperienced youngsters is an embarressment. The man has no character!

Posted by SanjivSanjiv on (December 21, 2008, 14:36 GMT)

Australia's aura is definately diminishing as seen against last two series against India and this Test in Perth. Afterall, it is extremely difficult to replace the world class players (McGrath, Warne, Gilchrist). Batsmen are Ok for a time being but not long because Hayden can call it any day; Hussey and Ponting are not getting younger anymore. Bowling is a very big concern. I just don't know who is good or otherwise. To me, all of them are chips of the same block. If Johnson has had a good game in Perth; Lee might perform in Melbourne and Johnson could be Lee of Perth. Who knows. Siddle and Kreja are not upto the Test level yet. Australia must identify some young talent and nurture it. Otherwise, I am little afraid if they become like West Indies in the next couple of years particularly when South Africa and India are climbing fast. Sanjiv Gupta Perth Australia

Posted by RaviBabu on (December 21, 2008, 14:28 GMT)

"he also sent down some of the longest hops since Qantas started its kangaroo route from Sydney to London" - :) hilarious and is infact resembles the poor attack of Aussies. I came to israel on a visit from sydney..I thought when i lookup in the morning news, i will read it as 'aussies stormed to victory'... in the old fashion..but??! It is a side slipping from the top and no longer the best team in the world. I follow any from of cricket of any nation anywhere i might be in the world...but man Test cricket is back into life now. I love this.

Posted by kris_mg on (December 21, 2008, 14:02 GMT)

No.. No.. No.. this is not how we want to see Aussies play.. Am talking for all those around the world who loved to hate the Aussies.. they were world beaters then.. I rooted for India when they played us but it was the fight, the spirit, the resilience, thats what made Aussies tough.. In the beginning of the series I wanted the South Africans to have a good go.. I thought thats what I wanted.. But this last days match.. had me wondering.. No.. this is not what I want.. Am still betting on an Aussie comeback.. there is still two tests more.. In the bowling department they dont have the sort of heavy ammunition they used to have.. but its still good.. But the batting department is still a heavy one.. If Aussies have to go out of this series with heads held high as they are used to.. its now upto Hayden, Hussey, Ponting Symonds and Clarke to show them that they still have it..

Posted by DrSunil on (December 21, 2008, 14:01 GMT)

Australia's aura fades away by Brydon is excellent and followings needs to be done ASAP to prevent this slump as a Aussie, Here is my proposal: 1. Ponting is a great player and should focus on to play as a great batsman 2. Ponting is not anymore motivating factor as a leader and does not command his teams respect, is getting increasingly very isolated. Ponting should step down 3. Let Michael Hussey lead the team and Michale Clarke as a VC. 4. Senior player like Haydon, Symmonds & Ponting should retire honorably. 5. Inject new blood in to the team Phil Jaques, Marsh, David Hussey, Hodge and Ronchi take their legitimate places in the team. 6. Hire reverse swing expert like Wasim Akram / Jason Gillispe as a bowling coach to teach Brett Lee and Siddle to bowl in cutters at his pace to devastating effect. Let Lee bowl to Right hand batsman round the wicket.Furhter, Lee need to bowl at off and middle stump line. 7. Need to appoint another coach and no cheap talk from Tim Nielsen

Posted by zulu-lance on (December 21, 2008, 14:00 GMT)

I guess part of Australia's problem is that not just the current team but even most of their ex-players on the Channel 9 commentary like Chappell, Healy, etc seem oblivious to the fact that the Aussies are just not the force they used to be about more than a year ago. The rut was exposed by India last summer in that acrimonious series which Australia didn't deserve to win. Even Chappell making statements like "Expect Australia to win" yesterday was rather heavy on hope than belief. The Saffers just need a bit of level-headedness rather than go over the top after this extraordinary win. They may have won the opening battle but the war is yet to be won!

Posted by valvolux on (December 21, 2008, 13:58 GMT)

aussies are simply one quality bowler short - that bowler being Clark. No doubt if he was in the team they would´ve taken the 10 second innings wickets cause Lee wouldn´'t have to play the role of keeping it tight. But there doesn't appear to be much depth...hope Hify gets a run, he's all class and will do well I reckon. Aussies are still number one if they can keep fit....but it is close and they need to find depth fast.

Posted by Bakul on (December 21, 2008, 13:57 GMT)

watson for siddle, "warne" for krejza to retain series

Posted by kd_007 on (December 21, 2008, 13:56 GMT)

Australia felt the heat even before the first test match starte.It was evident by the way Ponting started verbal battle. But Ponting found that Smith is now matured both as captain and a batsman. In the first innings it was Johnson's heroics which made it for Aussies but that might have given SA a belief that they could chase down that run mountain. If they concentrate on Johnson and do not give him wickets then it will be difficult for Aussies to get those ten wickets. It will be interesting to see if Aussies can come from behind find some solution to their bowling attack problem

Posted by gujaalti on (December 21, 2008, 13:56 GMT) illogical is ur comment?!! tch..tch...

Posted by popcorn on (December 21, 2008, 13:53 GMT)

How do you expect Ricky Ponting to win Test matches when the selectors give him Peter Siddle who has zero international experience?Can he EVER be reckoned as a replacement for Stuart Clark? What does Nathan Bracken, who has loads of international experience, have to do to get into the Australian Test side? Migrate to Victoria? Is Australian selection going the stupid Indian way of regional basis, rather than merit? What does Ashley Noffke have to do to get into the side? On the batting front, in both innings, Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds threw away their wickets.They should be taken to task. Regarding umpiring,it does the Team and Mathew Hayden no good for Aleem Dar to admit that he made a mistake AFTER giving him out.Rather than give a player the liberty to challenge dismissals,give the umpire the right to refer difficult decisions of snicks or lbws -like he does for run outs.Finally,"one swallow doth not a summer make".Australia will bounce back in the next 2 Tests.

Posted by BWCB on (December 21, 2008, 13:52 GMT)

Everyone seems to forget but the basis of this South African victory was laid in a one day game 2 years back. The day they chased down Australia's 434 at the Wanderes to clinch the series, that was the day South African Cricket was reborn and the ghost of Australia was laid to rest. I am looking forward to some real cricket now. When is India coming to SA??

Posted by Indianmaster on (December 21, 2008, 13:49 GMT)

The way Australia starts the test series is remarkable. I am a great fan of Cricket and I follow all the series. Before the start of this series, Australia started with same punch line such as , Lee wanting smith's head, Styen will have stern test, SA will repeat as poor performer, choker - by Ponting, and Smith had said a ZERO words. they let their Bat/bowl do the talk. I would suggest EXACT same to Australian team should restrain from making void comments. This is not 80s, Teams get mental therapist these days and they don't care what you say. Other aspect, Australian commentrators always so BIASED towards australia, it affects a lot to their player. Even Yesterday up until the end, Tony, Ian was so confident that Australia will win even up until the end . Its a matter of wicket..PLEASE dont' do that and I would say ICC should appoint commentrators. I am also watching India england and they have commentrators from both side. this makes it much better.

Posted by indiancheetah on (December 21, 2008, 13:46 GMT)

There's a Telugu Saying "Peruguta Viruguta Korake", meaning "one who goes up, ultimately comes down". No one is going to accept a long lasting domination. To say, monopoly is no entertainment. These are the greatest days of test cricket with the advent of T20s. Go South Africa...Go, You will meet India in the decider of world cup 2011.

Posted by IndianCricLover on (December 21, 2008, 13:39 GMT)

Australia is no longer the team that it usedto be. Also, the other teams i.e. India and South Africa too have made dramatic strides in the way they play their cricket. All these factors have bridged the gap between Australia, India and SOuth Africa.

Posted by GavinWells on (December 21, 2008, 13:38 GMT)

Well Mates, Do not write the Aussie off just yet. They will bounce back as they always do. They are a good team they were and will be.

Posted by SachinIsTheGreatest on (December 21, 2008, 13:28 GMT)

This has to be one of the great Test wins of all times. I was very very doubtful of South Africa's ability to compete in this series but they have gone one step further and done the almost impossible. A South African team of the 90s and early 2000s would have been blown away, for the rest of the match, after collapsing to Mitchell Johnson but this team has shown great character. Congrats to Smith and his team!!

Posted by Matt666777 on (December 21, 2008, 13:15 GMT)

What a remarkable win by the South Africans. The 2nd highest run chase in the history of test cricket. Being an Austrlian cricket supporter i would back our bowlers to take the 10 wickets needed for victory. how wrong i was. i am not at all suprised that the aussies let this match slip to be honest. 414 is a tough ask...but against an aussie attack that lacks "variety" and inability to "swing" the ball shows here. sure mitchel jonson took 11 out of the 14 wickets to fall..but wat bout lee, siddle 1 wicket a piece??? i think the selectros need to look at the talent we have on state cricket at the moment and seriously think about our bowling stocks. The bowling was FLAT and LACKED VENOM. not good enough aussies. for melbourne which is usally a wear n tear surface possibly try the same attack except drop siddle and bring in watson to strengen the batting also. keep kreja,lee and johnson in the side. Hayden must go soon. Why keep him in? sure he has the record but his time has passed.

Posted by Galbatorix on (December 21, 2008, 13:06 GMT)

In the past few months, Australia have been thriving more on talk, bluster, and on field aggression than consistent good quality cricket. This might work with the frail teams like West Indies and New Zealand. Strong teams with lots of self belief and good inherent strength like South Africa ( who are now a formidable mix of youth and experience) and India (who also look like world beaters) handle these cosmetics quite easily by simply playing consistent cricket. Though Mcgrath and Shane Warne used to intimidate opponents by identifying bunnies, etc.. before a series, they backed it up with results. This Australian team seems to be looking for excuses (case in point is the over rate issue - which happened even in their home grounds), rather than quietly deliver results (like Graeme Smith) Australia need to get back to the drawing board and build plans of getting a strong cricket team in place. The willow and ball need to talk first...

Posted by dinuhebbar on (December 21, 2008, 13:04 GMT)

The aussies must know that 'what goes up has to come down'. While it was true that they were champion side with McGrath, Gilly, Warney around, today as it is rightly said they are a moderate team. Things like hesitation to replace aged and failing super stars like Mathew Hayden and captain himself going through a lean patch are causing a lot of worry to Australian Cricket. They must admit the fact that No.1 spot is only based on past performance and react accordingly.

Posted by pinhead9810 on (December 21, 2008, 13:00 GMT)

Australia's defeat has given other international teams hope but again I can't see many teams beat Australia. South Africa played well and it was a deserving win, South Africa have played really well in fact since their defeat to Australia in 2006 South Africa has played excellent home and away. The Australian team is not as frightening as the team with Steve Waugh, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.

Posted by peeeeet on (December 21, 2008, 12:47 GMT)

The question of whether its the batsmen or bowlers - i think it is both but probably more the bowlers. Two guys were playing their second test matches, one of which averages close to 50 in first class cricket. Johnson bowled his heart out and is still developing, and Lee is in a bit of a slump but needs to be in the team because of his experience. The batting is in general pretty good. Katich is on fire, Clarke is showing that even when he isn't in form he can score runs, Symonds and Haddin are playing their natural games, Hussey has been consistent (even though he failed here). Only real problems are Hayden and Punter. And theres still the likes of Rogers, Hughes, Jaques, Voges, Marsh, D Hussey, Hodge and Ronchi in state cricket to boost the batting. I think the bowling is the real concern for Australia and there needs to be a miracle to help the bowling stocks.

Posted by gandabhai on (December 21, 2008, 12:40 GMT)

aussies have admitted their test rankings by the number 3 they advertise on their shirts. it will be interesting to see how many runs ponting will score now playing in a team that also loses .so far he has been fortunate to be part of a champion intimidating team ,unlike lara & tendulkar.imagine how many more runs they would have scored had they played in a champion team .

Posted by Armchair_Specialist on (December 21, 2008, 12:32 GMT)

There are 3 missing variables in Australia's armory that make opposition teams believe that they can beat Australia.

1. The absence of strategists in the team. Warne and Gilchrist were not just superb players; they were proxy captains that Ricky Ponting worked in tandem with. The combined mental agility of these 3 players ensured that Australia never missed an opportunity in a long 5-day match. This also brought some innovative tactics to their play. Today, Ricky Ponting, either of his own volition or for some unfathomable reasons, seems to be operating on his own and that has exposed his somewhat lacklustre captaincy (especially in the longer version of the game) 2. The erstwhile coach - Buchanan. Warne may call him what he wants, but it is undeniable that Buchanan was a driving force in the Aussie juggernaut and Tim Nielsen has a long way to go before he contributes quite as emphatically. 3. The absence of quality Test match players. Can't explain this; crossed the word limit!

Posted by Bumpster on (December 21, 2008, 12:31 GMT)

Glad to see Australia beaten soundly and on their own turf. About time they started facing reality, especially the likes of Hayden,Ponting,Symonds and Haddin who seem to live in a dream world. Well done south africa on the brilliant win.

Posted by grik on (December 21, 2008, 12:21 GMT)

Saying the aura fades away is pretty harsh. But thats the reality. It is high time teams realise pre match war of words are a big waste of time. Cricket matches are won on the field not in press conferences. Talking about "old scar", ponting, will realize that the current scar would not only remembered by him for a long time but will reamain for a long time as long as test matches are played. Just quality cricket is more than enough for purists.

Posted by STUCKER on (December 21, 2008, 12:21 GMT)

Well i woke up today thinking that i will see the smile back on pontings face and the aussies will be celebrating once again.But things were to be just a little different.I woke up i switched to Star Cricket and there was no live coverage goin on.Just there i had a feeling that did South Africa sneak away with a win.Well then Cricinfo,and "de Villiers hundred seals record win",wow amazing win we all have to appreciate this great win.As a Paki i was supporting the Aussies but luks lik we have now a new champion team.Well for some the start of the decline for the Australian side wont go so well specially ofcourse the aussies.As now they wont wake up in the morning like usual thinking why waste time watching the aussies they are gonna be winning Ofcourse! But now they will re-think about it bcuz now its not likely to happen!Sad

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Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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Australia v South Africa at Sydney - Jan 23, 2009
South Africa won by 3 wickets (with 21 balls remaining)
Australia v South Africa at Hobart - Jan 18, 2009
Australia won by 5 runs
Australia v South Africa at Melbourne - Jan 16, 2009
South Africa won by 3 wickets (with 3 balls remaining)
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News | Features Last 3 days