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March 22, 2009
Mitchell's déjà vu
In Johannesburg, Mitchell Johnson was stranded on 96 as he lost Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus in consecutive deliveries and there was a moment of horror for Johnson as the same thing threatened to happen again in Cape Town. Johnson was on 95 and at the non-striker's end when once more two wickets fell in a row. Andrew McDonald and Siddle were both caught at silly point off inside-edges onto their pads against Paul Harris and with two balls left in the over and two batsmen to come, Johnson must have been panicking. But Bryce McGain did the right thing and blocked out the last two balls and Johnson brought up his first Test century next over with a six smashed over midwicket off Dale Steyn.
One run per hour. That's the rate at which Simon Katich was travelling at drinks in the morning session. He began the day on 44 and by the time the first hour was up he had progressed to 45. His only run for that first hour came when he scampered through for a single when he was dropped by Harris at gully off the bowling of Steyn and rarely did Katich look like adding any further runs. He was looking exhausted at the end of a long tour and with Michael Hussey hardly racing at the other end, the pair did their best to put the "dead" back in dead rubber.
Harris gets heated
There has been a distinct lack of on-field nastiness in this series so it was a surprise to see Harris and Michael Clarke engage in a verbal stoush as the dead rubber came to a close. Harris has picked up Clarke four times over these six Tests and the pair exchanged words as Clarke ticked through the 30s without looking entirely convincing against Harris. It was the South Africans who ended up on the wrong end of the banter. At the finish of the over in question, Harris had a loud lbw shout against McDonald and he talked a clearly unconvinced Jacques Kallis into asking for the referral. The ball was clearly sliding down leg and it was impossible not to think that Harris' judgment had been clouded by the tension leading up to it.
Steyn gets Harris' man
Kamran Akmal is the only man Harris has dismissed more often in Tests than Clarke but it was another familiar tormentor who finally removed Clarke for 47. Steyn collected Clarke for the fifth time in the past few months when Clarke played the ball onto his leg and it trickled back onto the stumps. It was a successful day for Steyn against some recognisable foes. No bowler has dismissed Hussey more often than Steyn, who removed him for the fourth time when he forced a leading edge that bobbed up to JP Duminy in the gully.
Farewell to a familiar face
Steve Bucknor bowed out of Test cricket today at the end of his 128th Test match, a world record number of appearances. It's quite an achievement, considering that when he began his international career 20 years ago the only such record in his sights was the number of Tests officiated by a West Indian umpire: the 31 that Douglas Sang Hue stood in from 1962 to 1981. Earlier in the match the ICC presented Bucknor with a painting of him by Richie Ryall, the former Western Province wicketkeeper, and today he was given a guard of honour by both teams as he walked out onto the field after tea, for what would become his final session of Test cricket. Bucknor now heads home to the Caribbean to stand in his final two international matches in the ongoing ODI series between West Indies and England.
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