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March 19, 2009
On board the McGain train
It's six months since Bryce McGain embarked on his first tour with the Australians and finally he has a baggy green to show for it. After the disappointment of being sent home from India with an injury, and being overlooked in Johannesburg and Durban, McGain was given his chance after a bout of gastro felled Marcus North. McGain has waited a long time for the opportunity and he turns 37 next week. At the age of 36 years and 359 days, he became Australia's oldest Test debutant since his fellow legspinner Bob Holland, who was 38 and 35 days when he played the first of his 11 Tests against West Indies in Brisbane in 1984-85.
The debut blues
After South Africa lost the toss their new opener Imraan Khan had to wait for his first opportunity to bat for his country. But there were still some nerves from Imraan in the field when he put down a sitter at backward point in the first session. Simon Katich was on 9 when he prodded the ball straight to Imraan, who couldn't get his hands around it and felt the eyes of more than 8000 fans at Newlands hone in on him after his first unsuccessful act in Test cricket.
Captain by consensus
Jacques Kallis is the kind of captain who asks his team-mates what they think. It's a method that might work given their success on the first day but it wasn't so useful when they tried to make the most of the referral system. When Katich was on 4, a giant lbw shout from Makhaya Ntini was turned down and Kallis declined to ask the third umpire. The replays showed the ball pitched in line and would have hit the stumps. Then when Kallis did decide to use the reviews they backfired - also both from Ntini to Katich lbw appeals. The first pitched outside leg and the second was inside-edged.
South Africa joked in the lead-up to the match that maybe without Graeme Smith at the helm they would have a chance of winning the toss. Smith called incorrectly in all three Tests in Australia and Ricky Ponting picked right at the Wanderers and Kingsmead. But Kallis didn't add any luck to that department for the hosts and Ponting again chose correctly. When Australia battled to build a decent score on the first day the South Africans might have been thinking that their fortune had turned after all.
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