Akhila Ranganna: Hello and welcome to Cricinfo Talk. I have with me Daryll Cullinan discuss the first two days of the third Test between Australia and South Africa in Cape Town.
Daryll, 404 for 3, 195 runs ahead with seven wickets in hand - how happy will South Africa be with their performance so far?
Daryll Cullinan: South Africa will be delighted. They will also be wondering why this sort of performance hasn't come earlier in the series. With the series now being won by Australia, there was always the question about who would come into this Test wanting to win it the most. And South Africa's performance today was a carry-on after their great performance yesterday with the ball when they bowled Australia out for 209. They are in a commanding position today and can only believe that from here on they can control this Test, keep batting on and really be in a position to win it ultimately.
AR: Let's look at what was perhaps the most emphatic performance today - Ashwell Prince's century. He made a strong statement with that knock in his comeback Test. Does this knock show how much he was missed in this line-up in this series?
DC: Prince's innings was one of his best knocks and one of the best that we have seen for a long time here in Newlands. Having been left out of the side, turning down the captaincy - which has been an issue of late in the last week or so - he really had to come in and make sure he performed well. He was under pressure, as an opener, a role, that you get the impression he never really wanted to do, but was ultimately left with no option but to open the innings. It was a very determined and focussed Prince and he played superbly well. He got off to a great start last night when Australia didn't bowl so well. He started the day on 37 not out and it was all set up. It was a question of him getting through that first hour, getting the feel of things again and he never looked back. It was a delightful innings; he was fluent, we saw him play with authority and play with all his shots as well. He pulled and cut and drove and he took to Bryce McGain and looked to really dominate him. He will be thrilled and all of South Africa will be thrilled and in the process he has probably made it clear that he will be Graeme Smith's opening partner for some time to come.
AR: The other century of the day was from Jacques Kallis. He battled early on - had to face a barrage of bouncers from Mitchell Johnson … what are your thoughts on the way he played?
DC: Yes Kallis definitely battled initially. He went to 4 runs off 33 deliveries, he took a few body blows and some on the helmet as well and he just didn't look assured up front. But in a way it probably really got him going. It got him focused and determined and his innings turned when McGain came into the attack. He took him for a couple of early boundaries which gave him the momentum and he never really looked back from there. His 100 of 185 deliveries is the second quickest of his career - his quickest was against New Zealand that came off 143 deliveries. It was good to see Kallis in that sort of form. His response ultimately was a really good one. He knew he had struggled early on but he turned that into a fine hundred. It was his fifth in Newlands and 31st overall and he was overjoyed.
AR: You've spoken about how McGain was taken to the cleaners. Not a debut that he would want to remember; is there anything at all that he could have done differently from what you observed?
DC: McGain didn't bowl well, he has had a debut to forget. He could have bowled a lot better but the bottomline is he wasn't good enough. He simply had no control of his lengths and his lines. The pitch wasn't offering much and really looked out of his depth. His debut for a bowler who has bowled a minimum of 10 overs is the most expensive in Tests. Although as a South African you like to see your side do well, you don't want to see any cricketer being humiliated and having to experience the day that McGain experienced. Who knows, perhaps tomorrow may bring a change in fortune, but it was sad. It was sad to see him go at over 9 an over and Australia will have seen that he cannot be their long-term spin solution.
AR: Looking at the Australian bowling, with the exception of perhaps Peter Siddle, would you say that looked a bit ragged today; they weren't the same force that we have seen over the past two Tests?
DC: Absolutely. The Australian attack looked tired. As the day dragged on they battled. Johnson has really struggled. He hasn't been the bowler we have seen throughout the summer of cricket. Siddle worked hard but the effort of winning the series here has taken its toll. Andrew McDonald wasn't his usual consistent self, McGain was going for plenty, so it was back to the front three bowlers and it was perhaps too much of a big ask. And of the three Johnson was going for over five an over so it wasn't working for them as a unit.
AR: Looking at the way South Africa bowled yesterday, what was it that they did differently as a unit, that they have struggled to do throughout this series?
DC: They were good in that they got some early wickets. They were disciplined, they were lot more focussed and you could sense that their hunger to do well was better than it ahs been. They were assisted by some soft Australian dismissals. Paul Harris also played a good role. He was able to consolidate and really tie up and end and whenever he ahs done that, South Africa have done well from a bowling perspective. This si the first time we have seen them gel as a unit and each one did specifically what he had been asked for. Harris found a good length and found some good drift in the gentle breeze. Ultimately their persistence was rewarded and Australia were bowled out for 209.
AR: Finally Daryll, you are someone who knows this pitch well. How do you see it playing for the rest of the match and in the light of that how do you see this Test panning out?
DC: It has always been a pitch that has produced plenty of runs but it has always produced results. You will get a full five days of cricket here. Traditionally Day 2 and 3 have been the best days for batting. Prince in an interview after play today said that the pitch was playing a lot better; its coming on to the bat a lot better and he expects that to be the case tomorrow again. It's all about how South Africa go about extending the lead. They would want to bat one and allow themselves the opportunity to bowl at Australia. You can see a bit of turn and uneven bounce on Day 4 and 5. You can only get so much cricket in, so if you have enough overs in hand and you bowl well the pitch can also reward you. It is going to be the question of who plays the better cricket and how well South Africa play tomorrow to put Australia under pressure.
AR: Thank you Daryll for your views. We will hear from you at the end of this Test again.