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March 10, 2009
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.
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.
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.
Also, most brothers in a Test XI, and the fastest to 20 ODI centuries