South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Johannesburg, 5th day November 21, 2011

Much to laud, much to lament

With the ball, South Africa were incisive at some times, ineffectual at others; the batting was consistent but not without question marks of its own
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For South Africa, beating Australia in a home series would have been the final Test frontier. Victory would have completed their pack of cards and given them series triumphs over all Test-playing countries, both home and away.

Instead, they will have to wait at least another two years for a chance to come full circle. The drawn series also means that South Africa have gone four series without winning at home, with their last triumph in 2008, over Bangladesh. Still, they are ranked third in the world and have a Test outfit that produces some of the most gripping and enchanting contests this form of the game currently showcases.

South Africa are in possession of a pace attack that is lauded as the most aggressive in the world, a top six that can withstand some of the best quicks, tweakers and medium-pacers the game has to offer, and fielders who dart around as though run-saving was worth all the money in the world. They have given Test cricket some of the game's most tense moments, most dramatic collapses and recoveries, and most emotional passages of play, and that's just in this series. At the end of it, they had half a trophy to show for their efforts and the whole alphabet of disappointment written on Graeme Smith's grim face.

"It's not ideal," the captain said, his expression giving away far more than that those three words could capture, when asked about South Africa's poor home record of late. "We need to improve on certain facets of our game. There were a lot of really good things, but there were [also] things we really need to improve on. Considering that we haven't played in [about] eight months, there was no in-between."

But there was. Perhaps in the aftermath of a draining Test, the only colours Smith could see were black and white. The subtleties of other shades were lost on him, but as the days wear on, he will start to see them. Overall, South Africa have much to laud and much to lament, tied series result reflects that.

With the ball, they were incisive at some times, ineffectual at others. The emergence of Vernon Philander as an authoritative figure with the new ball has taken South Africa's seam attack forward, for sure. After two seasons of playing the SuperSport Series, which yielded 80 wickets, Philander made himself impossible to ignore; he had the best average of any bowler who had taken more than 250 wickets in first-class cricket.

Despite that, on the cusp of Test debut, he had more doubters than supporters. With every one of the 14 wickets he took, he proved them wrong. He is fit, he is determined and he compliments the rest of the attack. "Vernon has been stand out," Gary Kirsten, the South Africa, coach said. "He has served his time at first-class level and we felt that we wanted to give him an opportunity, and he has come in and delivered the goods."

With the new-ball pair of Philander and Steyn, the change bowlers of Morne Morkel and Jacques Kallis, and the attacking option of Imran Tahir, the South Africa attack is the most dynamic it has ever been. Tahir had been the missing element in their bowling but, as yet, the jury is out on whether he has fitted in as precisely as the team would have liked. He proved his worth on the second afternoon when he cleaned up Australia's lower order in nine overs, and was expected to do the same on the fifth day, on a wearing pitch. But the morning drizzle did not help. Then, he was tossed the ball at the worst of times, with Australia needing five to win. Still, Tahir caused problems with his lbw appeal against Pat Cummins, and his googly has emerged as one of the most dangerous weapons of the South Africa attack.

Perhaps batsmen will learn to pick him in future and he will have to continually improve aspects of his game. Perhaps he will be taken out of the mix before he becomes a factor, particularly if he insists on running on the pitch and is warned enough times. Smith admitted that Tahir is not quite the finished product just yet. "It's his first taste of Test cricket and he now knows what he needs to improve on. He felt a little bit of pressure from running on the wicket and that needs to be addressed," Smith said.

"With ball in hand, he has ability. He needs to find a way to make that ability match up to Test match cricket as well as it has in first-class cricket. That's the challenge of the management team."

Should they handle him correctly, Tahir will form a cog as important as Dale Steyn, who spearheads the attack, even when he is not at his best. Steyn needed a few spells to get into rhythm in this series, at times he bowled slower than usual, at times with seemingly less intent. Kirsten felt that the demands on him could be eased. "The one thing about Dale Steyn is that he has to be running in with full intensity. It's a massive physical demand on him to get it up to 145 [kph]," he said. "He is a skilled enough bowler to bowl at 80% and still be a factor. It would be unrealistic of us to expect him to be up at 145 every session."

The batting, meanwhile, remains consistent, with the exception of the opening position. Jacques Rudolph came in to partner Smith and although he looked confident, could not get beyond a start. Kirsten indicated that Rudolph will be given more time to show his competence. "I would like to give guys decent opportunities and for them know that they've got a bit of a run," he said. "You need guys to settle in and know that they are not being watched every minute of the day. That's not healthy."

He also voiced support for the under-fire Mark Boucher, whose non-performance with the bat has meant South Africa's tail starts at No. 7. "We would all like to see him fire," Kirsten said. "He [Boucher] fully acknowledges that it's important for him to fire at No. 7 for us and he doesn't need me to tell him that. He knows it."

Kirsten's words tell of the in-betweens that Smith could not see as he was too caught up in the moment. It's the blooding of new players, the contributions of old hands and the vision for the Test team in the coming months. In some ways it shows the map for the future being laid out, in others it points to a lack of ruthlessness, which is probably the primary reason for South Africa's inability to cross their final frontier this time.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • RandyOZ on November 23, 2011, 12:43 GMT

    @Mitcher, brilliantly put. We have had 8 in history, they have that in the current squad. Says it all really.

  • Meety on November 23, 2011, 0:59 GMT

    @Shan156 - England only have to do well in Asia to maintain their #1 rankings & show they are a dynasty in the making. If they fail in Asia it will just mean they are a good side outside of Asia & can concentrate on Ashes battles & the possibles v probables Sth Africa games!

  • Mitcher on November 23, 2011, 0:30 GMT

    @Shan156: Of course there is hypocrisy in these arguments about players representing countries they were not born in. I guess the difference with your exampes is you had to go back more than 20 years to dig up three for Australia. There are more than that in the current England set-up. Also, from your Australian examples only Wessels didn't learn his cricket in the country and that is a special case with apartheid. Your point that it was English players who dominated Australia during the Ashes is true, making it all the sadder England feel the need to continually poach South Africans when it seems they have their own quality home-produced players.

  • Shan156 on November 22, 2011, 21:00 GMT

    @harshthakor, fair comments but England really need to do well in the sub-continent before we can call them an outstanding test team. I am an England fan, btw and would nothing better in cricket than seeing England become an outstanding team. But, for once I will agree with a lot of Indian fans in this board in saying that they have to do well in the sub-continent:-) I am confident they will. Their chance will come in 2012 what with three tough away series and a tough home series. Hard to imagine England winning all 4 of 'em but not impossible.

  • Shan156 on November 22, 2011, 20:55 GMT

    @warnerbasher, South Africa B, eh? Please enlighten us - where were Usman Khawaja and Andrew Symonds born? What about Kepler Wessels? The real scourge of the Aussies in that tour was an Englishman named Alastair Cook. The bowling attack was all English too.

  • Shan156 on November 22, 2011, 18:52 GMT

    @PTtheAxis, SA last beat India in India in 2000. They won the two test series 2-0. They last beat SL away in 1993. I think Firdose is referring to SA's record since their readmission to test cricket.

  • PTtheAxis on November 22, 2011, 16:01 GMT

    nothing said against smith - the real reason for loss - not as a batsman but as a captain.

  • bumsonseats on November 22, 2011, 15:22 GMT

    u cannot say its a batters paradise on the 1st day it has to go 5 days. the problem is when india / sl play 2 spinner 2 seamers and open with spinners then thats a problem not that that happened today. a test should go to the start of day 4 then start to spin. what gets peoples back up, is wickets from day 1 takes excessive turn. when this happens how on earth to india think they can use this format, and expect seamers to win them test abroad.dpk

  • roliveruk on November 22, 2011, 15:13 GMT

    Harshthakor you have it absolutely right - perhaps a career in sports journalism beckons?

  • stormy16 on November 22, 2011, 12:34 GMT

    I am not sure how either side won or lost this series but Vernon was a sensation as was Amla which is nothing new. Kallis had a quiet series for a change and Smith did the job when it mattered most and too many Saffies forget about Smith's back to the wall innings over the years. I think Tahir done enough given the opportunities - definitley more than Harris did in a few years - like spin a few for a start! If the role SA has in mind for their spinner is one of holding by bowling harmless darts then a leg spinner is the wrong option. Rudolph needs more than two tests to prove himself and showed enough. Boucher only made the knives sharper and Prince did what he has done in the last last few series - just enough to stay afloat. 4 home series without a loss with this team is of serious concern. Lets face its a tailor made attack for the conditions and the batting is second to none - if your not going to win at home with side questions need to be asked.

  • RandyOZ on November 23, 2011, 12:43 GMT

    @Mitcher, brilliantly put. We have had 8 in history, they have that in the current squad. Says it all really.

  • Meety on November 23, 2011, 0:59 GMT

    @Shan156 - England only have to do well in Asia to maintain their #1 rankings & show they are a dynasty in the making. If they fail in Asia it will just mean they are a good side outside of Asia & can concentrate on Ashes battles & the possibles v probables Sth Africa games!

  • Mitcher on November 23, 2011, 0:30 GMT

    @Shan156: Of course there is hypocrisy in these arguments about players representing countries they were not born in. I guess the difference with your exampes is you had to go back more than 20 years to dig up three for Australia. There are more than that in the current England set-up. Also, from your Australian examples only Wessels didn't learn his cricket in the country and that is a special case with apartheid. Your point that it was English players who dominated Australia during the Ashes is true, making it all the sadder England feel the need to continually poach South Africans when it seems they have their own quality home-produced players.

  • Shan156 on November 22, 2011, 21:00 GMT

    @harshthakor, fair comments but England really need to do well in the sub-continent before we can call them an outstanding test team. I am an England fan, btw and would nothing better in cricket than seeing England become an outstanding team. But, for once I will agree with a lot of Indian fans in this board in saying that they have to do well in the sub-continent:-) I am confident they will. Their chance will come in 2012 what with three tough away series and a tough home series. Hard to imagine England winning all 4 of 'em but not impossible.

  • Shan156 on November 22, 2011, 20:55 GMT

    @warnerbasher, South Africa B, eh? Please enlighten us - where were Usman Khawaja and Andrew Symonds born? What about Kepler Wessels? The real scourge of the Aussies in that tour was an Englishman named Alastair Cook. The bowling attack was all English too.

  • Shan156 on November 22, 2011, 18:52 GMT

    @PTtheAxis, SA last beat India in India in 2000. They won the two test series 2-0. They last beat SL away in 1993. I think Firdose is referring to SA's record since their readmission to test cricket.

  • PTtheAxis on November 22, 2011, 16:01 GMT

    nothing said against smith - the real reason for loss - not as a batsman but as a captain.

  • bumsonseats on November 22, 2011, 15:22 GMT

    u cannot say its a batters paradise on the 1st day it has to go 5 days. the problem is when india / sl play 2 spinner 2 seamers and open with spinners then thats a problem not that that happened today. a test should go to the start of day 4 then start to spin. what gets peoples back up, is wickets from day 1 takes excessive turn. when this happens how on earth to india think they can use this format, and expect seamers to win them test abroad.dpk

  • roliveruk on November 22, 2011, 15:13 GMT

    Harshthakor you have it absolutely right - perhaps a career in sports journalism beckons?

  • stormy16 on November 22, 2011, 12:34 GMT

    I am not sure how either side won or lost this series but Vernon was a sensation as was Amla which is nothing new. Kallis had a quiet series for a change and Smith did the job when it mattered most and too many Saffies forget about Smith's back to the wall innings over the years. I think Tahir done enough given the opportunities - definitley more than Harris did in a few years - like spin a few for a start! If the role SA has in mind for their spinner is one of holding by bowling harmless darts then a leg spinner is the wrong option. Rudolph needs more than two tests to prove himself and showed enough. Boucher only made the knives sharper and Prince did what he has done in the last last few series - just enough to stay afloat. 4 home series without a loss with this team is of serious concern. Lets face its a tailor made attack for the conditions and the batting is second to none - if your not going to win at home with side questions need to be asked.

  • harshthakor on November 22, 2011, 11:51 GMT

    South Africa lacks the killer match-winning instinct and the final knockout punch so esssential to be the champion team.With that quality they should have won the last test after being one up and capturing all the important Australian wickets in the final innings.They have shown flashes of brilliance like winning series in India in 2000,in England in 2008 and in Australia in 2008-2009 but have never maintained their form and infact have not won their last 3 series on home soil.Their batting unit often capitulates and the I feel they have to strengthen the middle order batting.It is characteristic of S.Africa to be on top in one series or test match and go down in the next one.Their trump card is their devastating pace bowling but still they do not always combine as a unit.

    Today,only England is an outstanding test team,with about 4 teams vying for 2nd place,all vulnerable in different areas.

  • Simoc on November 22, 2011, 9:40 GMT

    South Africa had most of the best players and failed to deliver. I think Australia thought they had them on toast an hour before they were 21/9 jn the first test and SA got out of jail then as did Australia in the second test. Not to much predictable about the games except no-one mentions Phil Hughes place in the Oz team a week later courtesy of a streaky 88. One score & you're in this Oz team.

  • RandyOZ on November 22, 2011, 9:37 GMT

    South Africa didn't choke. 1.) They have to field 2 teams - give them some creidt. 2.) They came up against a fast rising Aussie superpower.

  • ashlatchem on November 22, 2011, 8:29 GMT

    @cricmatters... Exactly right Smith's captaincy was a let down (His batting was top-class) 1 thing I found suprising was them choosing not to review the Phil Hughes nick in the first innings.. I mean Boucher had to dive back to his right. It makes sense for the ball to have hit the bat... and at the death he waited too long to use Tahir... On Kirsten's comments about giving players an extended run.. I wanted Jacques Rudolph in the team but before the team was announced I thought Petersen had done enough to keep his spot.. Though I think Rudolph still has a career as a SA opener it troubles me how publicly he backs him when Petersen is still performing so well. Petersen should feel he has the right to have another crack if Jacques fails a couple more times. Now for Bouch absolutely love the guy and the fight he has in him and never thought I would say this.. But he really looks a shadow of his former self.

  • warnerbasher on November 22, 2011, 5:48 GMT

    How do we draw against South Africa away but lose 3-1 at home to South Africa B like we did last summer. Strange game.

    Good point Rojayao I think the road to the top will be quicker for Australia if the hard decisions are made on Haddin, Johnson and Ponting sooner rather than later. My view is that Ponting deserves to play the summer at home as a farewell tour. Haddin and Johnson don't deserve that opportunity.

  • PTtheAxis on November 22, 2011, 5:32 GMT

    thanks for the stats. don't remember that series at all :) must have been some dreamtime or a case of not watching india in its absolute nadir.

  • on November 22, 2011, 5:25 GMT

    when did south africa win a test series against india in india ? this is the answer and it was a whitewash http://www.espncricinfo.com/southafrica/engine/series/60684.html

  • SamAlex2 on November 22, 2011, 5:15 GMT

    Chokers! 'Nuff said.

  • on November 22, 2011, 4:25 GMT

    great article firdose...PTaxis...check your stats...SA beat india in 2002..."nicky boje"s series...

  • Lindien on November 22, 2011, 4:20 GMT

    @PTtheAxis Hi, please check out http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63870.html and http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63871.html

    India lost both the matches.

  • on November 22, 2011, 4:00 GMT

    @PTtheAxis That happened in 2000. But that changed the decade for India,as Ganguly took over after that.

  • Cheeki on November 22, 2011, 3:59 GMT

    @PTtheAxis- In 1999, SA beat India in the test series in India. This was immediately after Indians returned from their Tour Down Under (Which we lost 0-3.-The famous MacGrath and Tendulkar LBW in Adelaide) .It also marked the end of Sachin Tendulkar's Captaincy.

  • Tendulkars_Tennis_Elbow on November 22, 2011, 3:58 GMT

    @PTtheAxis - they beat India in India just before Tendulkar quit the captaincy, around 97-98. http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/series/61857.html

  • Kaze on November 22, 2011, 3:45 GMT

    @PTtheAxis http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/153920.html

  • satish619chandar on November 22, 2011, 3:36 GMT

    SA really need to fire as unit.. Prince's position is too vunerable.. Attacking too much which he is naturally not.. Anyone prefer Duminy better than Prince? Rudolph almost wasted all the starts he got.. He is not a Sehwag to be satisfied with 20 ball 25 in tough conditions.. But his comfortable stay in the crease augurs well to give him more chances.. Tahir or Harris need to be considered.. Harris can contain providing space for fast bowlers to attack. Tahir while attacking also can leak runs in turn asking one of the pace bowler to contain as well.. SA need to get their attack's composition better..

  • cricmatters on November 22, 2011, 3:02 GMT

    Fascinating match. I stayed up late to watch the whole play and it was worth it. People should not complain too much about empty stands. Lot of people prefer to watch the game at home (TV/Internet) especailly if its a test match. I think poor captaincy cost the game as too many singles were given away to new batsmen which allowed them to settle down for big shots later. Also Smith didn't show enough confidence in Tahir by not introducing him early or giving him more catchers close to bat. It seemed that Smith was prepared to wait for the batsman to make a mistake or the pitch to do something rather than planning their dismissals.

  • PTtheAxis on November 22, 2011, 2:39 GMT

    firdose - ' beaten all test playing nations both home & away' - when have SA won a test series against India in india ?

  • RoJayao on November 22, 2011, 1:27 GMT

    Gee with the team SA has on paper you'd think they ought to be no.1. The problem is they are a team of indidual champions not a champion team and that boils down to leadership. Also, how can you build a team around your best ever batsmen in his late thirties and a clearly over the hill keeper? And if Tahir isn't the finished product by now with his experience, when is it likely he will be? Like the Indian team, hard questions are being delayed, status quo remains, and the trend will be downward, not upward, in test rankings. What a pity! Haha

  • on November 22, 2011, 0:48 GMT

    People talk about home advantage when looking at results for other teams but why are SA unable to win at home? SA have a talented side but seem to lack a killer instinct and their home form rules them out of consideration as the best test team.

  • Shan156 on November 22, 2011, 0:43 GMT

    "Victory would have completed their pack of cards and given them series triumphs over all Test-playing countries, both home and away."

    Since when? SA last beat SL away in 1993 and India away in 2000. If it is since their readmission to international cricket, then it makes sense. It is amazing to note that SA haven't managed to beat Australia in 6 series since (4 defeats and 2 drawn series). Despite fielding a stronger team (on paper), the Saffers continue to struggle against the Aussies. In fact, they beat England away in 2008 after a very long time too. It is also interesting that the only two countries which have won test series in SA (since their readmission) are Australia and England.

  • Sanj747 on November 22, 2011, 0:37 GMT

    Yeah right Jim Davis. SAF could never be world beaters.They beat Aus in Aus and lost to them in the return series at home in 2009, poor show at home recently against India and England over the last 2 years with no series wins, and the disaster at the world cup. And as for the author of the article this series win being the final frontier, you have just contradicted yourself in the next paragraph by confirming SAF not wimming at home for a while. SAF need a new captain, drop Boucher and get Rudolph to score runs as opposed to being the team spokesman. Philander is a great find and Amla is the best bat going around. As for the aussies let us hope this win does not in anyway camouflage their fundamental issues with needing new and young talent. Bandaid solutions don't work. The new selectors we hope will be able to make the necessary changes required. The former selection panel might have just thrown them a carrot by selecting Cummins. Let's hope that's the case.

  • __PK on November 22, 2011, 0:15 GMT

    Half a trophy? I think not. The whole trophy stays with Australia. But then SA has been the "thereabouts" team for the last 19 years. And what was Kirsten trying to say about Steyn? Does he have to be running in at full intensity, or is 80% good enough? More of the cluttered thinking that's plagued SA cricket.

  • Marcio on November 21, 2011, 23:55 GMT

    Yeah, right @Jim Davis. The reality is that Australia led both games on the first innings, and won the second outright, yet you have then as being 10 times worse. What you may have failed to notice is that Australia batted under cloud and/or wet conditions the entire series, while SA bated in sunshine and dry conditions almost every time, and the conditions morphed dramatically according to those conditions. Sure, SA could have won the second game, but do you think SA would have got the 230 runs required in the fourth innings of the 1st test if the day had started off with three hours of rain, which is how AUS had to begin their final day? Both teams gave their all, both teams had fortune and misfortune,both were brilliant and terrible at times.

  • Meety on November 21, 2011, 23:32 GMT

    "..At the end of it, they had half a trophy to show for their efforts.." - ummm no they don't have a trophy, it actually was retained by Oz! == == == I want to compliment the groundsmen at Jo'berg. It would of been easy to prepare an absolute road & go for a draw so as to win the series outright. They didn't - they prepared a sporting pitch that gave the bowlers reason to exert. Congrats - although I do believe the Tour pitch was poor form from the Saffas - kudos to the Newlands & Jo'berg pitches!

  • HatsforBats on November 21, 2011, 23:20 GMT

    @JimDavis; I assume you're comparing by batting position? Morkel was useless for this test and was outplayed by an 18yr old debutant. I also don't think there is much between AB (should've capitalised in both innings) & Clarke (very poor this match but his last 100 was as good as they come). I think 1-1 is spot on for the "series" result; Aus should never have lost the 1st and SA should've wrapped up the second with 2 of the Aussies injured. Both teams played some brilliant cricket and both were poor at times.

  • HatsforBats on November 21, 2011, 23:15 GMT

    The SA side is an interesting one. That middle order of Amla, Kallis, AB is absolute class and as good as any in the world. Steyn is one of the best ever. Morkel is frustrating; he is in the same vein as Harmison/Johnson, he can awesome or awful, and he was far too inconsistent in this test. Philander & Tahir are also good attacking options. They just need to play more frequently so they call gel as a team.

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on November 21, 2011, 22:45 GMT

    SA have some brilliant players (Kallis, Steyn) along with some very good ones but they lack a solid opening partner for Smith and are prone to collapses and spells of indifferent bowling in a way that the ruthlessly efficient England are not. England have developed the knack that the great Australian teams did of finding a performance from someone, anyone if others fail. Flower is a very precise coach and i'm sure he would have been studying this series intently for weaknesses. Some of which a self confessed poor Australian team exposed. They will be as precise as being right in the umpires ear as soon as Tahir comes on and get his pitch wandering scutinised and penalised.

  • on November 21, 2011, 22:37 GMT

    This was a match Australia should not have won but then, the test before was a match they should not have lost. Both results are perfect illustrations of why cricket remains a fascinating game. Pity the crowds were so small.

  • on November 21, 2011, 22:15 GMT

    "He also voiced support for the under-fire Mark Boucher, whose non-performance with the bat has meant South Africa's tail starts at No. 7"

    SIGH. If only he had scored the 50 odd and Haddin had failed twice. Poor Boucher. And poor Wade too. That Baggy Green was all but on his head and now its been taken away.

  • zico123 on November 21, 2011, 22:08 GMT

    this should be the end of Mitchel Johnson, even though he made few runs, but he is not in side as a batter, he has been terribly wayward n inconsistant with the ball, he has been out of form for last 2 years, he is the most inconsistent bowler in the world, he delivers once in 6 months

  • zico123 on November 21, 2011, 22:07 GMT

    Australia somehow scrapped though, but Ponting at prime would have saw them home, not this Ponting, these should be the end of Ponting, as expected he didn't walk off, so selectors would have to take the hard call on his behalf, NZ series is the best time to blood in youth, no place for Ponting anymore who has passed his prime 2 years back

  • Ben1989 on November 21, 2011, 21:38 GMT

    Lol@nachi, are you claiming SA attack didn't show up on day 5? All the bowlers bowled especially well, getting the ball to move both ways in the air & off the pitch..

  • thebigone on November 21, 2011, 21:24 GMT

    even on the last day of the last hour the wicket was still showing green tufts of grass. maybe with the new leggie the wickes in sa land will start abit dryer and abit less grass. well played the ozzies they still won on a wicket well suited by their hosts.

  • JimDavis on November 21, 2011, 21:21 GMT

    Man for man, I make it 10-1 for SA players over OZ players. Hussey (for Prince) the only OZ player "better" right now than his SA counterpart, and yet it's somehow ended 1-1.

  • k.mithilesh on November 21, 2011, 21:15 GMT

    A South-African analysis added to this piece would have made it complete. As it is, it is quite good....

  • nachiketajoshi on November 21, 2011, 20:49 GMT

    Bowlers win the match. If they do not show up on the last day of the macth, it is hard to cross the line.

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  • nachiketajoshi on November 21, 2011, 20:49 GMT

    Bowlers win the match. If they do not show up on the last day of the macth, it is hard to cross the line.

  • k.mithilesh on November 21, 2011, 21:15 GMT

    A South-African analysis added to this piece would have made it complete. As it is, it is quite good....

  • JimDavis on November 21, 2011, 21:21 GMT

    Man for man, I make it 10-1 for SA players over OZ players. Hussey (for Prince) the only OZ player "better" right now than his SA counterpart, and yet it's somehow ended 1-1.

  • thebigone on November 21, 2011, 21:24 GMT

    even on the last day of the last hour the wicket was still showing green tufts of grass. maybe with the new leggie the wickes in sa land will start abit dryer and abit less grass. well played the ozzies they still won on a wicket well suited by their hosts.

  • Ben1989 on November 21, 2011, 21:38 GMT

    Lol@nachi, are you claiming SA attack didn't show up on day 5? All the bowlers bowled especially well, getting the ball to move both ways in the air & off the pitch..

  • zico123 on November 21, 2011, 22:07 GMT

    Australia somehow scrapped though, but Ponting at prime would have saw them home, not this Ponting, these should be the end of Ponting, as expected he didn't walk off, so selectors would have to take the hard call on his behalf, NZ series is the best time to blood in youth, no place for Ponting anymore who has passed his prime 2 years back

  • zico123 on November 21, 2011, 22:08 GMT

    this should be the end of Mitchel Johnson, even though he made few runs, but he is not in side as a batter, he has been terribly wayward n inconsistant with the ball, he has been out of form for last 2 years, he is the most inconsistent bowler in the world, he delivers once in 6 months

  • on November 21, 2011, 22:15 GMT

    "He also voiced support for the under-fire Mark Boucher, whose non-performance with the bat has meant South Africa's tail starts at No. 7"

    SIGH. If only he had scored the 50 odd and Haddin had failed twice. Poor Boucher. And poor Wade too. That Baggy Green was all but on his head and now its been taken away.

  • on November 21, 2011, 22:37 GMT

    This was a match Australia should not have won but then, the test before was a match they should not have lost. Both results are perfect illustrations of why cricket remains a fascinating game. Pity the crowds were so small.

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on November 21, 2011, 22:45 GMT

    SA have some brilliant players (Kallis, Steyn) along with some very good ones but they lack a solid opening partner for Smith and are prone to collapses and spells of indifferent bowling in a way that the ruthlessly efficient England are not. England have developed the knack that the great Australian teams did of finding a performance from someone, anyone if others fail. Flower is a very precise coach and i'm sure he would have been studying this series intently for weaknesses. Some of which a self confessed poor Australian team exposed. They will be as precise as being right in the umpires ear as soon as Tahir comes on and get his pitch wandering scutinised and penalised.