Plays of the day December 28, 2008

Hussey's moments of glory and shame


Ricky Ponting grassed what was by his standards a basic catch © Getty Images (file photo)
 

Mr Cricket's moment of joy
Michael Hussey is such a cricket nut that he works hard on his bowling even though it is rarely seen in matches. The decision to bowl Hussey in Nagpur was one of the key reasons Ricky Ponting was criticised after the match and when he turned to Hussey at the MCG when Australia were trying to wrap up South Africa's tail it was more in hope than anything. But this time Hussey's 120kph medium-pace delivered. Paul Harris tried to belt Hussey out of the park but mistimed his shot and Mitchell Johnson ran back from mid-on to take the chance. It was Hussey's first Test wicket and he celebrated as if he had made a hundred.

Mr Cricket's moment of shame
Hussey was happy to be the centre of attention after his wicket, not so after an embarrassing failure in the field later in the day. Dale Steyn skied Nathan Hauritz and Hussey at mid-on would have hardly had to move to accept the chance. But the ball went so high that Hussey lost it in the sun, putting up his left hand, then his right, to try and shield his eyes. Panicking as it became clear he couldn't see the ball, Hussey jigged from left to right as if his feet were on fire. In the end the ball thudded to the turf a couple of metres behind his left shoulder. There was nowhere to hide and he spent much of the next drinks break trying to explain to his colleagues what went wrong.

Ponting slips up
Last month in Adelaide Ricky Ponting pulled off one of the all-time great slips catches when he flung himself to his right and somehow clasped a one-hander that removed Jamie How. The catch was exponentially more difficult than one he put down today, when Steyn edged off Mitchell Johnson. Ponting moved to his right but only slightly and grassed what by his standards was a basic chance. Steyn was on 32 at the time; it proved a costly mistake.

An unexpected advantage
When JP Duminy and Paul Harris strode to the crease in the morning with a 196-run deficit and three wickets in hand, gaining a lead was not on the agenda. But things went so perfectly that they pulled in front of Australia with only one more wicket down and the moment came with a Duminy boundary off Hussey. Duminy and Dale Steyn walked down the pitch and with a brief handshake celebrated their remarkable achievement.

Pain pen strikes again
The pain-gone pen that the South African physio Shane Jabaar used on Graeme Smith's elbow in Perth made another appearance today, this time to deal with Dale Steyn's hand. Steyn copped two nasty blows, one on each hand, and after the first Jabaar pumped the now familiar device on the uncomfortable spot. It obviously worked - Steyn went on to record his first Test half-century.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo