South Africa v Australia, 2nd Twenty20, Johannesburg October 16, 2011

Early exchanges set the tone

Firdose Moonda at the Wanderers

In the space of four days, a series has begun and ended each team has had their chance to win and lose and, importantly, assess their relative strengths ahead of a busy summer. With spoils shared, South Africa and Australia are probably justified in believing their talents are well matched and both will be pleased with their bench strength and young charges, who showed that there is much to look forward to in the future.

Most impressive, was Patrick Cummins, the Australian quick who is barely old enough to legally drink alcohol, gamble, drive or get married, but bowls with incredible control. His second over, a double wicket-maiden, was remarkable in any format of the game, much less a Twenty20 and showed his ability to mix up his deliveries to make sure he stays one step ahead of the batsmen.

Although he was less successful later in the match, when the pressure had built, Cameron White knows a promising future lies ahead for him. "He performed unbelievably well," Cameron White, the Australia captain, said. "He is 18 years old and was playing at the Bullring, probably under the most pressure you can come across in the international game. He would have learned a lot from the last couple of overs, we all did. He can hold his head high, he is a fantastic prospect."

James Pattinson and Matthew Wade also had promising showings and although White lamented the drawn series, he could see the bigger picture. "It's a great learning curve and experience for our young team," he said. "It's a really hard one to swallow, we should have got over the line most times. We can't get that experience unless we're actually doing it. We should have come away 2-0, but we didn't. There's still a lot of positives to come out of it."

Hashim Amla also took heart from the drawn series, saying it gave fringe players the chance to prove themselves at the highest stage. With Dale Steyn and Jacques Kallis being rested from the series as part of the management's rotation policy, and AB de Villiers missing out through injury, the likes of Colin Ingram, David Miller and Wayne Parnell were given outings.

"The reason they [Steyn and Kallis] are rested is to give other people an opportunity," Amla said. "We know how fantastic they are and now we want to know how fantastic other players are."

Parnell was left out of Thursday's game and bowled waywardly on Sunday, where he struggled to find rhythm after an injury-filled year. However, he excelled with the bat scoring a unbeaten 29 off 11 balls to show his potential in that department. "We always knew he could play, he could be a genuine allrounder," Amla said. "He did not have the best day with the ball but it's about bouncebackability."

Parnell and Rusty Theron's 64-run partnership in under five overs came as a surprise to everyone, especially Australia who thought they had the game wrapped up with South Africa 84 for 7 in the 15th over. The two connected with everything that came their way and took the attack to the bowlers, who were overwhelmed by the change of gear.

"We had a clear understanding of what we trying to do and it wasn't anything extraordinary," Theron said. "They [Australia] didn't think it would get to the last over, and having David Hussey come on to bowl that proved it."

Theron also redeemed himself after an ordinary performance on Thursday and which led to comments from Johan Botha that he needs to lift his game. The easygoing red-head was under pressure after sensational death bowling spells in the domestic circuit.

"It was tough battle trying to bounce back from the other night and there were times when I thought it was a real uphill mountain, but my team-mates stood by me," he said. "In any sport, you will have situation where you need to come back from some sort of low and I did."

Bowlers from the Eastern Cape stole the headlines for South Africa, with Lonwabo Tsotsobe bowling well throughout the series. After a decent start to international cricket, he faced a tough second season with many suggesting he wasn't quite up to the highest level. Tsotsobe, though, has come back stronger and shown that the quality and intelligence with which he started bowling has grown. "He is a fantastic asset to have in the team," Amla said. "The way he bowls upfront puts us in a good position."

While both Amla and White agreed South Africa would be able to take some momentum into the one-day series, which starts on Wednesday, after their comeback here they also acknowledged that the series was too short to make proper judgements.

However, Amla drew positives out of the performances of their young players. "From what we know of them, their attitude is what sticks out and they have a massive desire to learn," Amla said. "At a young age if you have that, you can go very far."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ajay on October 18, 2011, 4:35 GMT

    bobagorof! Why Steven Smith place is not secure he is atleast a genuine spinner. But david hussey is not a good batsman bowler and not even young enough. Smith does something which lead Australia to victory not only that he give his 200%. So think of a captain who bats at 7 or 8, bowls leg spin and gives the spirit ot the team, thats why you need a player or captain like that. Van Der Merve does same thing for South Africa.

  • Andrew on October 17, 2011, 10:21 GMT

    @REH223 - too early to compare, other than the fact they are young. Like Aamir, Cummins is developing a reputation for wicket taking.

  • Rakesh on October 17, 2011, 7:02 GMT

    Future looks bright for both the Aussies and SA. Looking forward to a gr88 series.

  • Rob on October 17, 2011, 6:47 GMT

    Maybe it's time that Graeme Smith realises that young men's cricket isn't for oldies. It's starting to look like he's something to prove, which in my opinion isn't so. Leave it to the young and focus on the other forms of cricket is what I would like to say to Graeme.

  • diren on October 17, 2011, 6:06 GMT

    wow i never knew Rusty could bat like that!! Parnel we all knew has potential and I am sure by the next world cup he will be the best all rounder in the world!! Miller is another guy who has all the aspects of a top finisher but he needs to come in early and have a look at the bowling before he starts swinging......awesome win SA and revenge for the rugby:) looks like Aus are the new chockers lol

  • Dummy4 on October 17, 2011, 5:29 GMT

    I personally feel Australia can draw more positives than the Proteas. I find this talk of Kallis strange, as he has not been part of the T20 for some time now. De Villiiers will be missed and his absence could hurt south Africa. For South Africa the worrying aspect is the top order seems a bit rusty still and were found wanting against the Australian pace attack. If Cummins continues to be fit Australia have a better option than Brett Lee at the moment. I still feel they should play Bollinger in all forms of the game, he is an unsettling bowler. I feel the series is likely to be a lot closer than it seemed at first bllush and both the batsmen could be tested by the quality of the opposition attacks. It was a great contest on good wickets, something that we don't often get to see in the subcontinent. A good icontest in the offing and youth could be the key sridhar

  • rehan on October 17, 2011, 4:45 GMT

    Muhammad AAMIR way better than CUMMINS. AMIR has PACE, SWING( reverse and conventional) and aggression to demoralize any batsman.

  • Michael on October 17, 2011, 4:17 GMT

    Here here, ajayrcs! Though I wouldn't put Smith or Marsh as captain just yet. David Hussey would probably be a better choice at this stage - he has a lot of experience behind him, and his place is relatively secure.

  • Dummy4 on October 17, 2011, 2:37 GMT

    It's only been 2 T 20s yet the cricketing audience wants more. The average cricket enthusiast's hunger for great quality cricket was only partially quenched in the last 3 days. I, for one, am even greatly looking forward to the ODI series and test series. These two teams are very evenly matched and very little seperates them. It's going to be 7 very hard fought games of cricket.

  • Ajay on October 17, 2011, 2:36 GMT

    Worst captaincy by White australia should drop him as soon as posible. The best thing for australia in this match was the debutante he was so calm in his debut match while batting. So sad white showed no confidence in his bowling. M Marsh Should have bowled last over even if australia lost the match if he had bowled he would had gained some experience bowling in tough situation. For me he or steven Smith should be captain of australia T20 team. Why Steven is not bowling? He is bowler who can bat and one of the best australian fielder.

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