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Peter English at the SCG
January 5, 2009
Hit and miss for debutants
An over after Doug Bollinger was unlucky to miss his maiden Test wicket, Andrew McDonald was slightly fortunate to get his. Bollinger's lbw appeal against JP Duminy should have been upheld, but Hashim Amla had reason to query his decision, with McDonald's off-cutter heading down leg and being a touch high when it hit his pad. McDonald wasn't bothered, pumping his fist and smiling broadly at his first breakthrough. Bollinger suffered more pain when Billy Bowden turned down a couple of reasonable claims to Morne Morkel.
Nathan Hauritz was a couple of millimetres away from bowling Mark Boucher but the leg bail refused to topple. Boucher tried to drive but squeezed the ball on to the leg stump and the bail lifted out of its ridge and on to the edge of the wicket - and stayed there. Not even some jumping by Matthew Hayden or foot tapping by Brad Haddin could get it to drop. Hauritz smiled in disbelief and was sent for a rest as the second new ball was taken.
Not so easy for AB
Since his match-winning performance in Perth, AB de Villiers has been struggling to regain the intensity of his incredible 106 not out. In Melbourne he spent 51 balls scratching to 7 and in Sydney he was too casual taking a run when called through by Amla, who pushed to Mitchell Johnson at mid-on. de Villiers was ambling towards the batsman's end when he decided to look for the ball, which was speeding towards a stunning direct hit. Knowing he had to accelerate, de Villiers started to sprint but left it too late and the replay confirmed his departure.
The SCG has a new exhibit after Richie Benaud unveiled the sculpture of Fred 'the Demon' Spofforth on the third morning. Walking around the buildings here is like going through a museum, with stands, plaques and bronze statues recognising the heroes of years past. Spofforth was Australia's first great fast bowler, taking 94 Test wickets at 18.41 in 18 matches, and he was responsible for winning at The Oval in 1882, a result which led to the Ashes. His likeness now stands near the outdoor nets.
No shame for Shane
Shane Warne has many outstanding abilities, including being able to wear anything and not look stupid. A pink jacket is not a fashion faux pas for Warne, who was one of the thousands supporting Jane McGrath Day.
On song for gongs
The new year is awards season and two of Australia's next generation were recognised on the third day. Mitchell Johnson picked up the McGilvray medal for ABC Radio's player of the year after his 63 wickets at 29.01 in 14 Tests. Brad Haddin became the Australian Cricket Media Association's emerging player of 2008-09 for his contributions with bat and gloves since replacing Adam Gilchrist.
If this is Matthew Hayden's last Test, he didn't want to leave with a tentative final memory. With six overs to face, Hayden slashed Dale Steyn for four over cover to get off the mark and pulled another boundary next ball. Then he somehow survived an lbw appeal thanks to Asoka de Silva's misjudgment - "I thought it was going to hit middle stump, but that's me," Mark Boucher said light-heartedly - and ended the day on 18. Stage one in the save-the-career-plan was achieved.
Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala