November 27, 2012

South Africa in Australia 2012-13

'Got quite emotional the closer I got to a hundred'

Faf du Plessis, in his blog for Supersport, reflects on his immense innings that saved the Adelaide Test for South Africa.

I actually got quite emotional the closer I got to a hundred. I didn't think about it much until I got to 94 and then it hit me. I've always dreamed of getting a test hundred for South Africa and especially against Australia. I tried not to think about it, but it was difficult and I think I had goose bumps for about 15 minutes.

You spend your whole career thinking about how you will react if and when it happens. But when I got to a hundred, I actually didn't really know how to celebrate and that was why it probably looked quite low-key. Also, I knew that there was still a lot of hard work to be done.

Adelaide Oval on Monday was like a Murray River camping ground in mid-summer. The colours were washed out, it was breathlessly hot, people were scattered along the banks, mostly in the shade, writes Greg Baum in the Age. There was little movement and only a yelp every now and then to interrupt the stillness. The match, like the river, flowed along, but imperceptibly.

Of runs and wickets, the staples of a cricket match, little was seen. Yet that current, witnessed by those happy pseudo-campers, bore Australia and South Africa to a sublime finish to an extraordinary Test match. It came down to two men, opposed pugilistically. One was Faf du Plessis, who on debut for South Africa batted through the entire last day, made 110 not out and despite cramp in both legs and surely also in his nervous system secured for South Africa a draw as heroic as any victory. Faf is a name now.

For Australia, Peter Siddle bowled out his heart and most of his legs, and though scarcely able to put one leaden foot in front of the other by day's end, almost willed back for Australia the victory that had drifted around the bend and out of sight. How he must have itched for even one ball at No. 11 Imran Tahir; how Tahir must have prayed. Between Siddle and Du Plessis when stumps were drawn, a mere handshake seemed not nearly settlement enough.

In the Courier Mail, Malcolm Conn argues that Michael Clarke's best position is in the middle order, and not at No. 3.

There is no argument that Clarke's best place is at five or six because that's what the figures show. He averages 21 at number four, 63 at five and 50 at six. But the reasoning goes well beyond simple statistics. Clarke is the best player of spin in the team. His sharp footwork and deft hands allow him to work or stroke the ball from the outset. Things could change if Ponting does not make it beyond the next Test in Perth, as his current form suggests. Clarke may then be forced to move up to at least number four, although that appears unlikely.

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