Plays of the day December 26, 2008

McKenzie's costly drop

Plays of the day from day one of the Boxing Day Test between Australia and South Africa at the MCG

Simon Katich: bowled off a dead-ball, and then raised 1,000 Test runs for the year © AFP

A series of unfortunate events
When Jacques Kallis fell over while sending down a delivery in his fourth over and left the ground a couple of overs later, it had far greater consequences than South Africa being a bowler short. It also meant a reshuffle in the cordon. Kallis' position at second slip was taken by AB de Villiers, who usually stands at third slip, and his spot in turn was occupied by Neil McKenzie. In the final over before lunch Ricky Ponting, on 24, edged Dale Steyn to third slip where McKenzie spilled a sitter. It was the first drop of the series for South Africa. But for Kallis' injury, Ponting would have edged to de Villiers, whose catching in Perth was as breathtaking as his batting. Ponting went on to score a century and McKenzie was still looking contrite when the milestone came.

Dead bowled
Simon Katich might have had a brief moment of concern when he pulled out at the last minute as Morne Morkel was in his delivery stride. Morkel sent the ball down and it crashed into middle and leg stump and Katich looked up hoping to see a dead-ball signal from the umpire Aleem Dar. The call did come from Dar, who had been waving his hands around his face to shoo away flies as Morkel ran in and the activity could have been what distracted the batsman. Katich picked the ball up and walked down the pitch to hand it to Morkel, also giving the bowler an apologetic pat on the back.

Scaring the new guy
JP Duminy showed his composure on debut in Perth but he was a little less relaxed on the first day at the MCG. Duminy and Hashim Amla both chased the ball when Ponting drove to deep cover and Amla reached it first. He turned to throw and his wind-up was so enthusiastic that when he ended up just lobbing the ball to his mate to relay it back to the wicketkeeper, Duminy was ducking and covering his head to get out of the way. The ball thudded into the turf just over the crouching Duminy and despite the jeers from the huge MCG crowd, the two men were able to smile about the comical mix-up.

Two grand
South Africa entered the match with four batsmen who had scored 1,000 runs in the calendar year and Australia had none. But in the first session Katich and Ponting both went past the mark, Katich in his 11th Test for the year and Ponting in his 14th. Katich's milestone came when he went to 46 with a boundary glanced off Steyn; Ponting got there with a quick single that took him to 18. It was the fifth year in which Ponting had collected 1,000 runs and he added another record when he passed Neil Harvey to become Australia's greatest Test run scorer against South Africa.

The perfect man for the job
Even two years after his retirement it's hard to escape Shane Warne at the best of times, let alone at the MCG on Boxing Day. Warne is commentating for Channel 9 during this match and for a split second it looked like he was so popular that he had even been asked to sing the Australian national anthem before play. On closer inspection it turned out to be Eddie Perfect, the star of Shane Warne the Musical, which is now playing in Melbourne. He was - wait for it - pitch perfect.

Matching Marshall
When Makhaya Ntini found Brad Haddin's edge late in the day he reached an important personal milestone. Ntini drew level with his hero Malcolm Marshall on 376 Test wickets. "He has always been my hero and I modeled my action on him after I had to change it through injury," Ntini said. "Unfortunately I never got the chance to see him in live action but he has been a wonderful role model for me and this means a great deal to me. To emulate your hero means that you are going somewhere with your life and I hope I can now get to 400 wickets as quickly as possible."

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo