Australia v South Africa, 2nd Test, Melbourne, 5th day December 30, 2008

Record years and stress fractures


Shane Watson always looks on the bright side of life © AFP
 

Smith's end-of-year party
Graeme Smith will spend the next couple of days celebrating South Africa's historic series win but he also has a personal achievement to look back on. Smith was out for 75 in the second innings and it meant he finished 2008 as the leading run-scorer in Tests, with 1656 at 72. He had nearly 200 more than his nearest rival Virender Sehwag and only Mohammad Yousuf and Viv Richards have had greater collections in any calendar year.

Lee's pain, Hill's gain
Brett Lee bravely charged in with a serious foot injury on the fifth morning as he tried to do his bit in pulling off a miracle. It wasn't to be, and Lee was obviously in pain each time his left foot slammed down at the bowling crease. After seven overs to add to his three on the fourth afternoon, Lee gave it away and headed down to fine-leg - an ironic name given his situation. Eventually Lee left the field and the 20-year-old Victoria batsman Michael Hill took over the fielding duties.

Glass half full
It's hard enough to convince players to speak to the media when their side is losing, let alone when the player in question has just received devastating injury news. But Shane Watson is a talkative chap and when he discovered that he had stress fractures in his back that would keep him from bowling for up to six months, he was happy to do television and radio interviews to explain the situation. "I've been really happy with the way things have progressed over the last ten months to a year, the way my game has been able to improve," Watson said. "I'm happy with the things that have been evolving and it's just another little setback but I'm going to be really excited when I'm back bowling and back playing full pelt." Talk about looking on the bright side.

$20 too much?
When it became obvious late on the fourth afternoon that the match was likely to be over soon after lunch on the fifth day, Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria announced that ticket prices would be slashed for the final day's play. Well, cut to $20 at least. Several of the visiting South African journalists wondered why the authorities wouldn't just open the gates and let people in for free. As it turned out only 6343 fans arrived to watch the conclusion of one of the most memorable matches seen in Australia in recent times.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo