Clark drives Aussies to seven-wicket success
Clark backed his 5 for 55 on Thursday with an equally impressive 4 for 34 today and narrowly missed becoming the third Australian behind Bob Massie and Clarrie Grimmett to take ten wickets in his first game. Shane Warne, who picked up 3 for 77, ended Clark's chances of joining the exclusive list when he grabbed the final wicket of Makhaya Ntini and South Africa were dismissed for a disappointing 197.
Set 95 for an important advantage in the three-Test series, Australia suffered three late headaches courtesy of Ntini, but they added the comfortable success to the two in the home contest in December and January. Matthew Hayden survived a close lbw decision on 23, held his ground with the backing of the umpires on 27 when Andrew Hall dived for a catch off Nicky Boje at forward square leg, and was gone for 32 when he mishit Ntini. Langer played on three balls later with the score still on 71, and Ricky Ponting became Ntini's third victim before Damien Martyn and Michael Hussey ticked off the next 19 runs.
The comfort of Australia's batting assignment was determined by Clark. Whenever he had the ball it was almost impossible for the batsmen to play positive shots due to his nagging off-cutters and extra bounce. Having waited 30 years for his baggy green, Clark wasted no time in making an international impact and he was an immediate problem for South Africa this morning in a superb eight-over spell of 2 for 9, which included the vital scalp of Jacques Kallis. With Lee and Warne expected to run through their opponents on a still helpful pitch, Clark stormed past his senior team-mates and struck twice in his first over when Ponting asked him to finish the innings.
"It's still a bit of a dream and it's been a lot of fun," Clark, the Man of the Match, said. "To get one wicket would have been nice but to get nine was just great."
South Africa's batsmen were again unable to adjust to the testing conditions and struggled to get on top of Australia at any stage. With Lee and Clark suffocating them in the morning, the Proteas took 85 minutes to collect the 33 necessary to make Australia bat again and by that stage they had lost their two overnight batsmen.
Boucher crumpled to the ground after being hit in the groin by a second-ball off-cutter and in a stunning next over he should have been given out lbw before receiving a hit on the helmet when turning away to a short ball. No batsman found run-scoring easy and Boucher's first came off his 18th delivery while Jacques Rudolph, who was patient in top scoring with 41, waited for his 29th.
Kallis, the great local hope, departed on 36 to a fine catch off Clark that was headed towards Warne at first slip but was intercepted by Adam Gilchrist's Superman-style leaping, one-handed take. The same Australian pair was involved in Prince's dismissal when he glanced a legside delivery and Gilchrist accepted his sixth catch of the match. It was Clark's seventh wicket but he wanted more.
The lower order was becoming a minor nuisance for Australia and after Warne deceived Rudolph, Clark was given his second stint, ousting Nicky Boje with a simple catch from his first delivery. Five balls later Andre Nel was bowled and Clark had another over to push for his tenth dismissal, but was unable to run through either Hall, who remained unbeaten with a bright 34, or Ntini. The miss mattered only to the statistics as he completed a debut that gives Australia a reason to be hopeful about the short-term fast-bowling future.
South Africa now have two extra days to rectify their batting troubles ahead of the second Test at Durban on Friday and they must focus on tightening techniques loosened by the one-day victory that already feels like last month's news. The tourists have few problems and can fly east with the intention of sealing back-to-back series wins.
Matthew Hayden c Gibbs b Ntini 32 (71 for 1)
Stepped down the pitch trying to slog and skyed to gully
Justin Langer b Ntini 34 (71 for 2)
Cramped for room and played on
Ricky Ponting lbw Ntini 1 (76 for 3)
Missed trying to whip through midwicket
AB de Villiers c Gilchrist b Lee 7 (20 for 1)
Inside edge driving and surprised wicketkeeper accepted left-handed take
Herschelle Gibbs b Lee 0 (20 for 2)
Slow to judge quick off-cutter; limp defensive effort
Graeme Smith lbw Warne 16 (37 for 3)
Played right back to big-turning legspinner
Jacques Kallis c Gilchrist b Clark 36 (75 for 4)
Great diving one-handed catch in front of first slip
Ashwell Prince c Gilchrist b Clark 27 (88 for 5)
Moved across his stumps and glanced down legside
Mark Boucher c Langer b Kasprowicz 2 (108 for 6)
Chipped to short midwicket and left to a diving take
Jacques Rudolph b Warne 41 (158 for 7)
Tried to leave but got inside edge on to stumps
Nicky Boje c&b Clark 14 (179 for 8)
Popped return catch
Andre Nel b Clark 4 (183 for 9)
Angled in between bat and pad
Makhaya Ntini c Kasprowicz b Warne 6 (197 all out)
Scooped to deep mid-off
Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo