Highest by a No. 4 against South Africa since Harvey
Stats highlights from the first day in Centurion, which was dominated by Shaun Marsh and his 199-run partnership with Steven Smith
- Shaun Marsh's unbeaten 122 is his second Test century in 12 innings, after his 141 on debut against Sri Lanka. In ten innings in between, he scored 160 runs at an average of 16.
- Marsh's century is the first by an Australian No. 4 batsman against South Africa since Damien Martyn's 101 in Johannesburg in 2006. In 21 innings between those two centuries, Australia's No. 4 batsmen averaged 16.20 against South Africa. Among the batsmen who failed in this slot during this period were Michael Hussey (217 runs in 12 innings), and Ricky Ponting (98 runs in seven innings).
- His unbeaten 122 is also the highest by an Australian No. 4 batsman against South Africa since Neil Harvey's 190 in Sydney in 1953.
- At 98 for 4 Australia were on the back foot, but Marsh and Steven Smith completely turned the game around with their unbroken 199-run partnership for the fifth wicket, Australia's fifth-best for the fifth wicket in Tests against South Africa. The four higher partnerships, though, all came when Australia already had more than 170 on the board by the time the fifth-wicket pair came together.
- Not only did South Africa fail to take a wicket after the 34th over, they also seldom looked threatening. During the partnership between Marsh and Smith, the two batsmen had a control factor of 94%, which means only 6% of the deliveries they faced beat the bat, or were edged or mistimed. Smith was especially secure, achieving a control factor of 97%, while for Marsh it was 91% during the partnership and over his entire innings.
- None of the South Africa bowlers had the Australia batsmen in too much trouble. Against Dale Steyn, the in-control percentage for the batsmen was 86%, against Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander it was 92%, while against Ryan McLaren it was 85%.
- Steyn, though, did get a couple of wickets, including that of Michael Clarke for the eighth time in the 12 Tests they have played against each other. In those 12 Tests, Clarke has scored 254 runs for an average of 31.75 against Steyn. Only James Anderson and Stuart Broad have dismissed Clarke more often in Tests - both have nailed him nine times each. Clarke has done pretty well against the two other frontline South Africa fast bowlers, averaging 48 against Philander (96 runs, two dismissals), and 94.67 against Morkel (284 runs, three dismissals).
- If Smith gets a century as well, it will be only the second instance of Australia's No. 4 and No. 6 batsmen getting centuries in the same Test innings against South Africa. The only other instance was in Johannesburg in 1949. Australia won that Test by an innings and 85 runs.
S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter
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