South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Durban, 5th day

Some catchin, lovin, and joggin

Brydon Coverdale in Durban

March 10, 2009

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Graeme Smith warmed up just in case he had to bat © AFPGetty Images
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It's catching
Brad Haddin's gloves haven't been the safest place during this match. He put down a chance on the fifth morning and fluffed a sitter on the fourth day, when the Australians were convinced there had been an edge behind. As tea approached he discovered there was perhaps a better way to take catches. Morne Morkel inside-edged onto his pad off Simon Katich and the ball flew low to Haddin, who managed to trap it between his thighs. As he threw his hands up in a successful appeal, the ball remained nestled safely between his legs.

Umpire love-in
As the Australian team huddled during the drinks break in the middle session, planning their afternoon, the umpires had a conference of their own. Asad Rauf has been active all Test and this time he and Billy Bowden and the fourth umpire Ian Howell had a big group huddle - or was it a hug? - before they embarked on the remainder of the game. The referral system has the ability to turn umpires against each other if decisions are overturned but in Durban it was all about the love.

Generous Harris
Paul Harris isn't the world's worst lower-order batsman but he appears to have one specific flaw. When occasional bowlers come on, the skill that he actually has and the ability that he believes he possesses drift further apart. At the MCG in December, Harris became the first man in Test cricket to fall to the gentle medium-pace of Michael Hussey when he tried to clear long-on and was caught in the deep. Simon Katich is a more proven bowler than Hussey but rarely trundles at the top level these days and it took him only two balls on the final day to entice a similarly adventurous shot from Harris, who tried to clear mid-on and was taken by Peter Siddle running back with the flight. For the record, Harris also became part-timer Marcus North's first Test victim a week ago in Johannesburg.

Just in case...
It's not easy for the public to see what's going on in the Kingsmead nets, where the players are largely shielded by high walls and diligent security guards. But it is possible to peer into the nets from outside the ground and before play on the fifth morning the most notable activity was a warm-up session for South Africa's captain Graeme Smith. His right hand was still bandaged and he wasn't getting padded up but Smith was doing some jogging up and down a vacant pitch while his team-mates bowled and batted. After his heroic comeback with a broken hand in Sydney nobody was prepared to write him off in Durban and he was warming up, just in case. But as the wickets tumbled early the chances of him batting became slimmer and his green shirt and shorts remained in place. There was no SCG encore.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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