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March 1, 2009
Kallis shows his class
In the first innings, Jacques Kallis scored his 10,000th Test run and was labelled a giant of the game by his captain Graeme Smith due to his all-round talents. Three hectic overs in the middle of Australia's innings proved his worth in the field. Kallis began by having Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey caught from consecutive balls and ended his over on a hat-trick. Before he got a chance to go for three from three, he took a stunning one-handed catch diving to his right at slip off Paul Harris in the over in between. His hat-trick didn't eventuate but five balls later he got one to stay low and rattled the stumps of Marcus North and finished with figures of 3 for 7 from the two overs.
Steyn v Siddle, round two
Peter Siddle has been the target of some good-natured chants from the Wanderers fans - the same sort that Australian crowds aimed at Richard Hadlee in the 1980s. When he peppered Dale Steyn with bouncers on the third day he quickly discovered why the ground has a reputation as intimidating for visiting players. He also ensured that when he next faced Steyn he would be on the receiving end of some short stuff. As soon as Steyn came on, Hashim Amla moved in to short-leg and it was easy to predict the length of the first ball. But to Siddle's credit he played a string of bouncers well, ducking under them all and smiling as he went, and he finished with a handy unbeaten 22.
Another glove affair
On the third afternoon, Smith declined to use a referral to check a big appeal against Phillip Hughes. The replays showed Hughes had gloved the ball behind off a Morne Morkel bouncer and it was a missed opportunity for the South Africans. Amazingly, there was a near carbon copy the next morning. Again the bowler was Morkel, again Hughes gloved the ball behind and again Smith decided not to use the referral. After the replays had been shown on TV the coach Mickey Arthur let the boys on the field know they had erred - he raised his finger from the team balcony.
Overturned at last
The referral system didn't get its best advertisement on the third day in Barbados but it has been less controversial at the Wanderers. Not until the fourth day was there a referral that was overturned by the third umpire Asad Rauf. Billy Bowden adjudged Brad Haddin out lbw when he tried to sweep the spinner Paul Harris and Haddin asked for another look. It was a tight call - the ball struck him only just in line with off stump and was straightening - but few could have argued if Rauf upheld Bowden's call. Instead, Rauf must have felt the ball was turning too much and asked Bowden to overturn his decision; the Hawkeye replays later indicated the ball would have clipped off stump.
The record crowds that the Wanderers management was hoping for haven't eventuated over the past four days but with a potentially thrilling final day ahead the organisers are desperate for as full a house as possible. Tickets purchased on Monday will be reduced to 20 rand for adults and 10 rand for under-18s, while spectators who have already bought day five passes will receive one free ticket for every ticket purchased. If there's a Perth-like finale on the cards it would be a shame for the Bullring to have more empty seats than occupied ones.
The cricket world reacts to the passing away of Phillip Hughes
It is impossible to imagine how Sean Abbott must feel after sending down that bouncer to Phillip Hughes. While the cricket world hopes for Hughes' recovery, it should also ensure Abbott is supported
The sickening blow that struck Phillip Hughes is a reminder of the ever-present dangers associated with facing fast bowlers, even while wearing a helmet
Pakistan have notched up some fine wins under Misbah-ul-Haq's leadership, but they haven't yet achieved consistent results outside the UAE
Going out to play cricket today would have been near enough to impossible. Even doing so next week in the nets and at the Gabba for the first Test will be difficult