Plays of the day January 3, 2009

A newbie in a happy daze, and SCG in the pink

Pink is in at the SCG © Getty Images

The cap fits, but not the helmet
Not even a bouncer that removed Andrew McDonald's helmet was enough to stop him from smiling. The allrounder McDonald was a surprise selection and over the past two days has been in a happy daze. Even Morne Morkel's short ball, which McDonald turned his head on before it struck the base of his lid, could not ruffle him. By the time the helmet had hit the ground - and missed the stumps - he was looking at the bowler and grinning, while thinking about tightening his chin strap.

Are you Ishant in disguise?
The nightmares Ricky Ponting has involving Ishant Sharma reappeared at the SCG, with Morkel sparking the cold sweats. Tall right-arm fast bowlers who can bring the ball back into Ponting provide him with so much trouble and Morkel welcomed the captain with a nasty offcutter. Ponting pushed forward to the lifting delivery with an angled bat and the inside edge went to Mark Boucher. The big cheer the under-siege Ponting received when he walked out had stopped and Ponting left with his second golden duck of the series.

In the pink
The SCG took on a psychedelic feel with pink splashed throughout the stands and on the ground to raise awareness of breast cancer. The colour was everywhere: on stumps, signs, advertising boards, caps, shirts and bandanas. Glenn McGrath's charity foundation was the beneficiary of more than A$50,000 and he was on the square at the time of the toss. He didn't agree to the crowd's comeback calls.

New stand not for standing
The Victor Trumper stand was gleaming on its first international day and the bronze statue of the late and famous barracker 'Yabba' was in position in the front row. But the new area provided a first-over problem for Matthew Hayden, who stopped play because of the people walking through an entry way just next to the sightscreen. Like the building of the stand, the problem was fixed over a couple of stages.

Clarke on his knees
Jacques Kallis was uncomfortable to face late in the day and earned some plays-and-misses as well as delivering a ball that hit Michael Clarke in the groin. Clarke went down immediately and after a few breaths started to crawl along the pitch in an effort to deal with the pain. Kallis stared at Clarke like he was a drama queen, Brad Haddin smiled as he went to offer help and the crowd groaned and laughed at the same time. Clarke eventually regained his feet and showed no problems with the next ball, which was driven down the ground.

Oh my, Amla
Hashim Amla did some amazing things in the field, particularly when diving to stop Matthew Hayden's drives, so his drop of Clarke 12 minutes before stumps was a huge surprise. Clarke was on 69 when he pulled to midwicket and the ball seemed to dip as it reached Amla, but it was a chance that should have been taken, and one of the few missed by both teams in the series.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo