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March 2, 2009
Song sung in unity
Australia's team song was given a rare public airing after their series-opening win. Following January's Sydney victory there was controversy when Michael Clarke gave the song's custodian Michael Hussey the hurry-up and it led to a scuffle between Clarke and Simon Katich. This time there was team unity as the players and support staff made their way out onto the Wanderers in semi-darkness at 6.45pm - three hours after the game finished - and gathered next to the pitch. After some jovial beer-spraying of the team's new members, the circle tightened and Hussey led the squad in Under the Southern Cross. "Second verse, same as the first," Hussey roared out, before the loud rendition was given a second go. After the squad dispersed the touring selector and a former custodian of the song, David Boon, made his way off the ground with a beer in hand, clearly happy with the continuation of the tradition.
Playing the percentages #1
When Jacques Kallis was given out lbw to Mitchell Johnson and referred the decision, it raised an interesting point. The ball was clearly going to hit the stumps but Hawkeye showed it pitched partially outside leg. It raised the question of what percentage of the ball must pitch in line to be eligible for an lbw. The answer is 50% - if Hawkeye shows more than half the ball outside leg when it pitches, then it can't be lbw. That was clearly the case for Kallis, who had his decision overturned and was allowed to stay at the crease. For the record, when it comes to striking the batsman in line with the stumps there is no such 50% rule - if any part of the ball strikes the batsman in line it is deemed to be acceptable.
Playing the percentages #2
The other figure that was attracting attention on the final day was the chance of rain. On Sunday the weather bureau predicted a 50% chance of wet weather for the fifth day but by the time Monday morning rolled around the number had dropped to 30%. After the violent thunderstorms that struck during the first three days, it was especially pleasing that during the first session on the final day all three results were still entirely possible.
Turning their attention to Durban
Australia decided they didn't need a specialist spinner for this match, although there was some turn for South Africa's Paul Harris and the part-timers. During the lunch break Bryce McGain and Nathan Hauritz took to the field and sent down 30 minutes' worth of deliveries on one of the practice pitches. There was some spin there for both men, who are keen to push for a place in this week's second Test in Durban. While McGain and Hauritz bowled to a solitary stump with the bowling coach Troy Cooley as the backstop, they were surrounded by hundreds of fans as the Wanderers tradition of allowing spectators onto the field at lunch continued.
Short of support
Ticket prices were reduced and there was a gripping finale on the cards but the Wanderers still struggled to be even half-full on the fifth day. Yes, it was a Monday but given the match situation an attendance of about 10,000 was disappointing. Earlier in the match there was an announcement that more than 95,000 tickets had been sold for the five days but clearly plenty of those buyers had better things to do. The final crowd figure for the whole Test came in at 73,091.
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