South Africa A v Australians, Potchefstroom, 3rd day November 3, 2011

Johnson sets up win for Australians


Australians 236 and 214 for 3 (Watson 77, Marsh 73*) beat South Africa A 183 and 264 (Peterson 103, Tsolekile 58, Johnson 5-74) by seven wickets

The Australians won their tour match in Potchefstroom with four sessions to spare but ticked most of the boxes they wanted to tick ahead of next week's first Test. Another day's play could have been a useful tune-up before the team heads to Cape Town, but there were only a few men who failed to make the most of the game.

Mitchell Johnson showed signs of his best form with a nine-wicket match-haul, Shane Watson muscled his way to 77 in the second innings, Shaun Marsh scored a pair of half-centuries, Peter Siddle made a strong case for Test selection, Michael Clarke was fluent in his first-innings 76 and Nathan Lyon improved as the match went on.

But Phillip Hughes and Ricky Ponting would have wanted more time in the middle and Trent Copeland's lack of penetration may have put him in danger of losing his spot. However, a seven-wicket victory was an encouraging result for the Australians, who were set 212 to win on the third day, after Johnson's five-wicket haul in the second innings, and they got there with ease.

The pitch had calmed down a little after the barrage of bouncers batsmen received on the first two days. Watson mauled the South Africa A bowling and Marsh played a typically level-headed innings to finish unbeaten on 73, while Brad Haddin was promoted up the order to get some time at the crease and he was not out on 6 when the winning runs arrived.

Hughes was out for 19, caught at slip off Wayne Parnell, before Watson and Marsh combined for an 84-run stand. Watson brought up his half-century with a solid clip off his pads for four, off his 53rd ball, and he pulled and drove straight with power.

Eventually he was caught behind off Ryan McLaren for 77 from 73 balls, bottom-edging an attempted pull, and he walked after the umpire initially gave him not out. Marsh continued to score with ease, driving through gaps at cover and cutting well, while Ponting gradually found his rhythm.

Especially encouraging for the Australians was Ponting's flat pull for six off the quick young bowler Marchant de Lange. The ball thudded into the advertising boards with a loud crash, and it was reminiscent of Ponting at his best, when the pull and hook were his signature moves.

However, on 29 Ponting lofted a catch to mid-on off the spin of Robin Peterson, with the Australians 16 runs from victory. The target of 212 had been confirmed during a disappointing morning session for South Africa A, whose lower order couldn't handle the pace of Johnson.

The hosts lost their last four wickets for 59 on the final morning, Johnson picking up three and Peter Siddle one. A 25-run final-wicket stand between de Lange and Vernon Philander frustrated the Australians, until Siddle bowled de Lange for 15 to end the innings at 264.

Johnson finished with 5 for 74, starting with a wicket in the morning's second over when McLaren steered a catch to point. In Johnson's next over he trapped Wayne Parnell lbw, and Peterson departed soon afterwards, bowled for 19 when a fast Johnson delivery sent two of his stumps cartwheeling.

It completed a brilliant game for Johnson, who ended up with match figures of 9 for 112. And after his success in South Africa last time, Johnson was the one man the Australians wanted to hit his straps before the first Test in Cape Town.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hector on November 4, 2011, 13:07 GMT

    More than ever, we need Haddin gone. Um, don't pull a hammy Brad....err...well... yes please ......real bad! Send Wade as Paine is still not fit to play. Siddle needs to bowl like he did in the first innings all the time... He seems to decide a pitch is dodgy so plans go out the window. Such a pity. When he is focused on line and length and acting as the support bowler, he looks a class act. When bowling aggressively searching for something in the pitch, he looks crap.... too over the top with no patience. I think you might find Copeland will still play in the first test ahead of Siddle. He definitely lacked penetration and this will be an issue as the tour goes on.

  • david on November 4, 2011, 11:14 GMT

    what we want is a south african with a more english sounding name than de lange. john smith or andrew symonds sounds more english but ups! that last name may have been taken silly me.dpk

  • kieran on November 4, 2011, 11:05 GMT

    @ jonesy2; you're right about Hughes so lets hope for the best. I think Punter is in the same boat as Haddin, but I think he'll retire after the Aus summer anyway. Haddin unfortunately was picked after his peak; Wade or Paine will be great, at least if they go with Wade if will quiet the Vics.

  • Dummy4 on November 4, 2011, 9:00 GMT

    Great to see Mitchell Johnson doing good, memories of '09!! Ponting and Hughes...well...not so much! But, they will NOT fail! I think they're well aware that they didn't do brilliantly or anything and they'll do whatever they have to do to fix it in time for the tests! Go Baggy Greens!

  • Bryn on November 4, 2011, 8:05 GMT

    haha yes a few decent prospects here for england, im sure flower is having a look. how good does the batting look and i know what youre thinking but hughes can go off and win a game in a session he is that type of player and he simply scores a crap load of runs. siddle must play, his aggression and zip off the deck is a must. between harris siddle and johnson there isnt a man who isnt a strike bowler. cummins might get his turn in the next test. oh and if haddin doesnt have a good series then sadly he must go, it is crazyness having the supreme talent of matt wade playing for the vics when he could be starring for his country. at least while paine's still in....pain

  • kieran on November 4, 2011, 1:55 GMT

    @ RandyOz: classic, just classic.

  • Andrew on November 4, 2011, 0:24 GMT

    @RandyOZ - " Lange also looks a good prospect for England..." - lovely!

  • Nathan on November 4, 2011, 0:01 GMT

    lol RandyOZ, comment of the day - 'de Lange also looks a good prospect for England'. Funny and most likely factual all in one, good job!

  • David on November 3, 2011, 23:39 GMT

    @RandyOz - hahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Randolph on November 3, 2011, 21:56 GMT

    Well done Jono, lets hope he can translate this to tests. I see what everyone is saying about Copeland, but I would much rather him than siddle in the team. His bowling in the second innings was spray gun at best! I hope Lyon gets a decent run in the side. Okeefe wont get selected so we need to stick with him. Haddin - time to go. de Lange also looks a good prospect for England. I am sure they are circling as we speak. Troot n KP prolly visiting family anyway and can have a word to him.

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