South Africa v Australia, 1st Test, Centurion, 3rd day February 14, 2014

Warner and Doolan punish South Africa


Australia 397 and 288 for 3 (Warner 115, Doolan 89) lead South Africa 206 (de Villiers 91, Johnson 7-68) by 479 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Jarrod Kimber: 'I'd like to be able to say it wasn't about Mitchell Johnson again, but in a way it was'

It has been hard to tell what has done more yawning over the first three days of this Test, the Australian fans staying up into the wee hours to watch it or the chasm between the sides. Consider this: South Africa were bowled out for 206 on the third morning in Centurion. On the same pitch, in the same conditions, David Warner and debutant Alex Doolan then proceeded to put on 205 for Australia's second wicket. It helped that they were not facing Mitchell Johnson.

Graeme Smith and his men left the field on the third afternoon knowing that this match was all but out of reach. Warner's sixth Test century and Doolan's 89 meant Australia's lead had ballooned to 479 by stumps and it would grow on the fourth morning. South Africa can post huge fourth-innings totals - their 414 in Perth in 2008 and their 450 for 7 against India at the Wanderers in December are testament to that - but unless Johnson loses a limb it is impossible to see a way out for them this time.

That he finished off the tail for figures of 7 for 68 was not unexpected. What was a little surprising was the sloppiness of the South Africans in the field, the inability of their fielders to grasp the few chances their bowlers created. Warner was dropped three times and survived a run-out opportunity, and overthrows were a worryingly regular feature of Australia's innings. It was as if South Africa had already given up.

By stumps, the total had moved on to 288 for 3 with Shaun Marsh on 44 and Michael Clarke on 17. The odd ball had stayed low, the odd ball had bounced sharply, but generally it remained a reasonable batting surface. Warner and Doolan certainly enjoyed working on it after they came together at 1 for 1, when Chris Rogers chopped on trying to force Dale Steyn through the off side in a half-hour period Australia had to bat before lunch.

Warner and Doolan put together the highest Australian second-wicket stand in four and a half years, Warner making the most of his lives to strike 13 fours and two sixes and Doolan more gradually working his way into Test match mode. Warner's first stroke of luck came on 26 when he top-edged a hook off Vernon Philander and Dean Elgar, on as a substitute for Steyn, who battled what looked like a leg problem throughout the day, grassed a chance he should have taken at fine leg.

In the next over, Warner was again put down on 27 when he flashed at Morne Morkel and Alviro Petersen at second slip jumped and thrust his hand above his head but was unable to make the chance stick. Perhaps the hardest of the three opportunities arrived on 51, when the ball fizzed high off Warner's edge and Smith at first slip got his hand above his head but despite having two bites, could not keep hold of the chance off Ryan McLaren.

Warner made South Africa pay, typically strong driving along the ground through the off side but equally happy to go in the air, including with a daring and deliberate uppish steer over the cordon off the bowling of Steyn and a muscular drive over the head of the bowler McLaren for six. On 97 he survived an lbw review instigated by Smith from a Morkel ball that pitched outside leg and brought up his century next ball with a crunching cover-drive for four off his 118th delivery.

It continued Warner's trend of kicking teams when they are down, for he has now made three second-innings hundreds from his past six Tests and over the past year has averaged 54.83 in the second innings compared to 25.00 in the first. Eventually South Africa held on to a chance when Warner had 115 - Philander had missed a run-out attempt when he was on 106 - as Warner played for Robin Peterson's non-existent spin and edged to Smith at slip.

The focus then switched to Doolan, very much the junior partner while Warner was at the crease, to see whether he could match Marsh as a centurion in this match and on debut. Doolan was slow to get going but played some classy strokes as he became more comfortable at the crease. His half-century came, fittingly, from a South African misfield and he was especially strong off the back foot, although perhaps his best shot was a crisp cover drive for four off Philander.

However, Doolan was less sure against the slower bowling and on 89 edged behind when JP Duminy skidded one on from around the wicket. Doolan chastised himself as he walked off, knowing a debut hundred was there for the taking, but his 154-ball innings had certainly shown the Australian selectors that he was up to the task in Test cricket, albeit with the buffer of a hefty lead already in place when he walked to the crease.

The reason for that was that Johnson had continued to torment South Africa on the third morning. Again AB de Villiers was the only batsman who seemed able to match it with him but eventually he too succumbed, albeit to a slower ball rather than Johnson's pace, and fell short of a century. The day began with Peterson fending a catch to slip off a fast, accurate Johnson bouncer and a rapid end seemed nigh until Philander gave de Villiers some help in a 49-run stand.

That partnership ended with a canny review from Clarke when Lyon came around the wicket and managed to pitch the ball in line and straighten it enough to have Philander lbw for 15. Meanwhile, de Villiers was playing just as assuredly as ever and seemed destined for a century when he misjudged a drive and was well caught by Warner at mid-off for 91.

The end arrived when Morkel edged another excellent bouncer behind to leave Johnson with the figures of 7 for 68, his third haul of at least seven wickets in Test cricket. The way the South Africans struggled to handle his pace, it might not be his last on this tour. Or even in this match.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Thegimp on February 17, 2014, 8:12 GMT

    @MCSJCW.....So apart from a new opening batsman, a new middle order batsman, a new number four, a new keeper so that AB can just bat, a new spinner and .......and a new Captain, this is the #1 team in the world and will grind Australia into the dirt?

  • RVC-38 on February 15, 2014, 21:32 GMT

    Does anyone think Indian conditions would not suit Johnson, Harris, Lyon and Muirhead to bad we will not see it for a while.

  • Zainnajam on February 15, 2014, 15:56 GMT

    I Dont think we are able to be seeing some tough and close matches these days, if one team bullies down the other, it stays that. Now, South africa's loss was very unsurprising after what the target was. And, @MCSJCW, you know that South africa were always Down and out, no need to Blame the australians, they were always the winner, whatever tactics or missed chance they applied in the Game.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 15, 2014, 10:31 GMT

    @MCSJCW So the chanceless ton from Smith and the chanceless 89 from Doolan don't count in your books?

  • MCSJCW on February 15, 2014, 9:42 GMT

    Australia still as weak as ever. Look at the scorecard in the 1st innings. 2 scores, one of which was dropped on 12. Only one bowler. 2nd innings, one big score dominating and he had 4 chances.

    What they do have is attitude (bordering on arrogance) which they lost since Warne and pigeon retired. They basically scare teams into submission. They may win but all that will happen is that SA will be even stronger afterwards. Example, they will drop Peterson opener (good but not getting any better) and will blood a new spinner. That is all that is wrong with SA. Captaincy may need a refresh.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 15, 2014, 9:20 GMT

    Nice placement Mr Smith, Doolan adds some extra value to his batting.

    I can't believe Amla didn't get a new helmet, with that dent in the grille if he gets another one there it's gonna break his face.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 15, 2014, 9:09 GMT

    @cccrider There is no way on earth that SA can make 480 in 2 days on this thing. It's up and down, it's left and right. They'll be all out just before or just after tea.

  • sachin_vvsfan on February 15, 2014, 9:04 GMT

    Clarke declares early!!. Madness or Brave? Whatever this is more interesting now. 5+ sessions and the target can be chased down if there is no interruption in the play. But will Mitch allow them to do that.Come on Saffas. Show the class now. My eyes on Amla, Faf and AB and that monster Mitch.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on February 15, 2014, 9:01 GMT

    @SLslider, what on earth are you on about. Australia are so dominant now all people can complain about is how we celebrate our tons? I guess it's a 'problem' we don't have to worry about lol! This game will be over today, it could be over during Mitch's first spell.

  • android_user on February 15, 2014, 8:58 GMT

    Despite I hate all big3 but I have to acknowledge the big heart of Australians. Like ponting Clark also declared while he could easily dragged this inning to lunch to take the lead up to 600 plus and make the match winning virtually impossible for sa (though it seems already so with 482 and Johnson the dragon)

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