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

South Africa in danger of being scarred

South Africa have become known for their ability to fight back from tough positions, but that skill deserted them on the third day at Centurion as a ragged performance in the field flashed warning signs

Firdose Moonda at Centurion Park

February 14, 2014

Comments: 79 | Text size: A | A
Cullinan: Smith should use his bowlers more effectively

There was the din of disinterest, frustrated fans were fidgeting in the hope of something to cheer and even the slow hand clap seemed to have lost energy. The South African flag was held limply in the hands of its owners, the Australian one was being draped over a banister at Castle Corner.

Could anything have illustrated it better?

Just three days into the series, South Africa were so far behind in Centurion that it seems as though they will start tomorrow from Pretoria. Their batsmen had been burnt by the bustle and bounce of Mitchell Johnson and their effort in the field seemed singed by those remains. It was, and the comparison to a series of a similar name is intended, ashen.

It may well be too early to draw comparisons but they are too striking not to. In Brisbane, Australia recovered from 100 for 5 to post a first innings score of just under 300, bowled England out cheaply and then piled it on, led by a century from David Warner. And it does not end there.

The issues England faced ahead of the series opener were experienced by South Africa too, but to a greater degree. Matt Prior was doubtful then with a calf injury, AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn, Graeme Smith and Vernon Philander all had niggles in the lead-up, JP Duminy hurt his wrist in the warm-up, Steyn was ill on the first day of this Test and Morne Morkel had shoulder trouble on the second.

England had a debate over who their third seamer should be. South Africa's selection conundrum was who to pick at No.7, in the absence of Jacques Kallis. They opted for Ryan McLaren and although mid-match may not be the best time for them to question that choice, they might be doing exactly that. Would Wayne Parnell's pace and alternative angle have made a difference? Should Rory Kleinveldt or even Kyle Abbott have come into contention? And, after glancing at the batting card, maybe they should have rather beefed up in that department?

But where South Africa sunk further than England in that game was with a flat fielding effort, sprinkled with fumbles and underpinned by the three times they dropped Warner.


Graeme Smith couldn't grasp a chance at slip off David Warner, South Africa v Australia, 1st Test, Centurion Park, 3rd day, February 14, 2014
Graeme Smith failed to grasp a chance at slip off David Warner...one of four lives for the Australian © AFP
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It is an overused mantra that dangerous players in particular should not be given second chances. Warner got his when he was cramped for room by a Vernon Philander short ball and could not control his hook shot. Dean Elgar, the substitute fielder who had only just come to cover for Steyn, ran in from fine leg and had both hands under the ball but it burst through. It happens.

He got a third chance the next ball. It came against Morne Morkel; a short-of-a-length delivery which Warner pushed, edging to Alviro Petersen at second slip. Petersen had to take it above his head and the combination of jump and grab failed him. It happens

Then Warner got a fourth on 51 when he flashed at McLaren to offer Graeme Smith a high chance at first slip. The captain went for it one-handed but missed. It happens.

When something happens three times, it should serve as a warning to everyone to be on high alert. They should know that another chance cannot be allowed to escape them. But with Warner on 106 - albeit with the damage already done - he was given a fifth life-line when Philander missed an opportunity to run him out when he was sent back by Alex Doolan.

That was the worst of the misfields but there were others. The single Duminy allowed through off his own bowling when he did not get down in time to cut it off; the rare occasion when Faf du Plessis could not cut one off in time in the covers, which allowed Doolan the two runs he needed to get to his fifty; the misfield off Robin Peterson as the day grew long to allow Shaun Marsh to punish the bowler he had already scored 10 off in the over for two more.

South Africa's embarrassment

  • AB de Villiers said he was "embarrassed," by South Africa's fielding, an aspect they pride themselves on. Here are some of the errors, even setting aside the three dropped catches, which left him red-faced:
  • - Morne Morkel moved slowly to pick up what should have been only a single, and while he did it, Australia took a second. In the panic, he then threw the ball past de Villiers and turned a one into a solid three.

  • - JP Duminy jumped on a ball and was so sure he had misfielded it, he ran off to the boundary to retrieve the ball, only to find he had actually stopped it.

  • - A soft return from the field came in and instead of taking it safely ahead of the stumps, ADB let it hit the stumps. It ricocheted for another overthrow.

  • - Even in the first innings, Hashim Amla had a gentle ball hit out to him on the cover boundary and he ran straight past it, letting it go for four.

Fielding is a benchmark for a team's psyche and on the evidence of today's play South Africa are low on morale, justifiably so. Their much vaunted bowling attack could not bring them back into the game as it has done so effectively in the past.

Steyn's first ball threatened to. In fact, the first three overs of his first spell did. He held his line on middle stump to bombard Warner and Doolan with enough bouncers to let them know it would not be easy. Philander started well, too. He maintained a probing channel and teased them with the subtle movement that has accounted for so many before.

The follow-ups were not quite as menacing. There was too much width from Morkel, too many short balls directed down the legside instead of at the body, of which McLaren was one of the guilty parties and Robin Peterson was as ineffective as expected. All those things will give South Africa plenty to think about for the next time they have to bowl Australia out. They need a better plan than the one we saw at Centurion Park and they need to carry it out properly.

Before they can even get to that, they will have to consider what they are going to do in the other half of their game, with the bat. Sometime tomorrow, probably quite early, they will face Mitchell Johnson again on a surface which has shown inconsistent bounce. Chasing a score over 450 may have seemed possible against India at the Wanderers two months ago but it will be a much more challenging, if not impossible, task here.

Instead, what South Africa have to concentrate on is how much of a fightback they can pose. One of the rare occasions England pushed Australia at all was the final innings of the third Test. This is only a three-Test series, which does not leave South Africa much breathing space. The spirit of Adelaide and Johannesburg means they cannot be written off, but a draw from here would set a new benchmark. At the very least they need to make Australia strain every sinew for victory so that their confidence is not too shattered for Port Elizabeth.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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Posted by bumsteer on (February 16, 2014, 12:17 GMT)

Proteas need to do a "Qasim Omar". Don't play at Johnson, take him on the body!

Posted by milepost on (February 16, 2014, 7:01 GMT)

Wow, the 3-0 predictions by informed cricket followers are looking ever more likely now. Australia are peerless and SA can't do much to stop them.

Posted by Jimmyvida on (February 15, 2014, 17:24 GMT)

In my blog after India toured SA when South Africans were screaming for lively bouncy pitches. More bouncy the better. Remember! I said then that when SA has to face good pace bowling, namely Johnson and company on the very bouncy wickets they are screaming for, they would not like it. NZ are trying the same against India. We want green, bouncy wickets. They dug a hole and fell into it. Now they have turned to the disgraceful tactic of negativity. Never believed that Mc Callum would stoop to such tactics. But he has. What is test cricket coming to?

Posted by steve48 on (February 15, 2014, 17:20 GMT)

As i have said elsewhere, it is Mitch 's left arm angle, hitting the pitch in the right areas to threaten the batsman physically, that is causing the problem amongst top class batsmen. They need to get Parnell bowling from a yard or two over the crease and work on their head positions and stance. Boxers train to fight southpaws by sparring southpaws. Nobody left arm is close to MJ's pace, so its either the bowling machine or an overstepping Parnell, and plenty of body armour, or else the same will happen next test; he is not relying on lateral movement, and even a slow pitch didn't stop the problem of the pace and angles against England

Posted by neanderthal on (February 15, 2014, 16:12 GMT)

Brutal fast bowling is fashionable again.Thanks to MJ.Hope he stays injury free for some time.

Posted by S.Jagernath on (February 15, 2014, 15:50 GMT)

@itisme.People say Indians play fast bowling poorly is unjustifiably so.Virender Sehwag & a few others have lead to that assumption,but it is largely not that case.Statistics & technique possessed by Rahul Dravid,Sachin Tendulkar & now Cheteshwar Pujara,Virat Kohli & even Ajinkya Rahane play pace quite well.

Posted by S.Jagernath on (February 15, 2014, 15:47 GMT)

I do not understand why South Africa would not request a pitch with more grass,meaning one that is more moist.These drier surfaces favour Mitchell Johnson & Australian batsmen.Curators in Port Elizabeth need to produce a more South African surface.

Posted by Gordo85 on (February 15, 2014, 15:18 GMT)

I have agree with what most of Hussain said Hendricks needs to be in the squad. A concerning fact for me is though that the next in line wicketkeeper isn't making any runs domesticlly and to me that would mean he wouldn't get picked. One thing I don't agree with Hussain on is what he said about the spgin bowling department as I know South Africa do have some players coming through the ranks. How could anyone go past Shaun von Berg when he is currently on fire and has been doing well for the past two years or so with no reward. I think he is better than Harmer but Harmer does have some promise and does keep on getting in the South Africa A team but yet von Berg doesn't. They do have simular stats though in some areas. I think if Smith wants to keep on playing Tests they need a younger opener to bat along with Smith. The next Test will be interesting and if the same problems are still present then changes should be made in the 3rd Test squad for sure.

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 14:51 GMT)

MJ - what a match . He has just bruised and battered the Proteas. Just goes to show what raw pace directed at the body can do. No batsmen today is comfortable against such deadly bowling. Great cricket overall. South Africa- miles to go.

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 14:50 GMT)

They should play Tahir and de Kock instead of probably the two Petersons.. But I will still go with Alviro and drop Duminy.. Mainly because Alviro is a tried and tested test "opener".. Duminy is old and Like Raina for India, a failed experiment.. I would certainly play Tahir over Robin for obvious reasons.. India are the best players of spin bowling in the world.. A poor performance against them should not have cost him his place in the side.. Australia may have lefties, but along with Duminy, He could be a potent weapon.. But then, you will have to drop Alviro.. Play de Kock as a keeper and let de Villiers' hand heal please..

Posted by itisme on (February 15, 2014, 13:09 GMT)

The truth is the Saffas are already scared, scared of Mitchy. Yes, people love to point fingers at the Indian batsmen not good enough against fast bowling, but the fact is that no one, I repeat, no one likes high class fast bowling. Playing the high class fast bowling is the real test of the calibre of a batsman. Spin bowling can get a wicket but it nevers scare you, it never makes you feel you cannot fight.

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 13:08 GMT)

I think SA need a left arm seamer .They have four right armers .Get Parnell in for McLaren and (though he isn't part of squad) get Hendricks. This way at least As won't have a pie chucker in Robbie to leak runs. Even better would be using Harmer as the spinner (another one not in the squad). Apart from him I can't think of any spinner. SA s spin cupboard has been bare for too long now.

Posted by RojaK on (February 15, 2014, 12:35 GMT)

Reports of the decline of Australian cricket have been greatly exagerrated - Doolan and Marsh show we may just have some depth in batting talent, with Cummins, Pattinson and Bird waiting in the wings after showing distinctly promising debuts. None though have brought me as much joy as the mo-man johnson though, a prodigious talent that lost his way for some time and was presented with an opportunity in India which he grasped with one mean arse left hand. Dare I say it, the Mo'd Jo got his mojo back. Also wish Kallis was here for one more series, he left a big hole South Africa will be auditioning for years to fill. He was a warrior, one of the greats of the game - this series, and cricket in general, is less for his absence.

Posted by geoffboyc on (February 15, 2014, 12:33 GMT)

Australia really have SA by the throat in this one even without the fielding errors that also characterised a couple of England's defeats in Oz. They've batted better and bowled better than the home team so far. The word of warning to the triumphalists is "Johnson". He's bowled out of his skin these past months and he can bat a bit, but what would the Aussie attack look like without the physical and psychological threat he can pose. The other bowlers are good players, but good batsmen in some sort of form could deal with them. They are potential number ones with a fully functioning MJ; without him........?? And if SA can recover from the loss of Kallis's consistent value this series may not be a foregone conclusion either.

Posted by balajik2505 on (February 15, 2014, 11:37 GMT)

South Africa are sorely missing Kallis who provided them options both with the bat and ball. How South Africa goes forward in the next few years will depend on how they handle this conundrum. Somehow South Africa does not produce good spinners. It will also be interesting to see how England does in the post Swann period given that the offie provided that critical balance which played a major part in England's success in the last five years. Australia have finally sensibly persisted with Lyon after going through spinners like soiled tissue since Warne retired. Quite a few teams are going to go through a transition period in the next 2 years. Let us see how things pan out.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on (February 15, 2014, 9:18 GMT)

Scarred? Scarring occurs as a wound heals, SA won't have scars until the whitewash is complete.

Posted by heathrf1974 on (February 15, 2014, 8:44 GMT)

I wonder who the coach of SA is? Darren Lehmann has done wonders for the Aussies. I always thought that good coaches would have an impact in cricket but Lehmann has had a massive impact on the Aussies. It seems coaching in test cricket involves more of a mental approach rather than a skills one.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on (February 15, 2014, 8:37 GMT)

Australia are back to the top of test cricket. At the moment they are peerless, not even the number one ranked side can resist them on their own turf. Australia have no competition and yet another whitewash is on the cards. Soon no one will want to play them, the SA team already doesn't.

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 8:08 GMT)

@Dunger.Bob, Definitely pressure I'd say. Yep it can be poor fielding too but when good catchers start putting them down it's generally the sign that things are getting tough. Mind you, I reckon only the Elgar chance was straight forward of the ones put down off Warner yesterday. But yes, SA will expect better of themselves, but I'm not sure there will be too many chances to make amends in this test.

Posted by fayyaz03 on (February 15, 2014, 7:52 GMT)

What has happened to Amla? Why A.Peiterson still opening instead of De Kock? Why was Tahir Dropped? Why you can't handle M.Johnson when you have handled Brett lee pretty well in the past? I am totally shocked! Hey Pup! you really know how to smack down the elephant.

Posted by mondotv on (February 15, 2014, 7:42 GMT)

@AltafPatel - I don't think it's too early to judge the outcome of the match. Unless severe weather intervenes SA will lose and probably before stumps tonight. Yes they fought back wonderfully in Adelaide 2 years ago against a depleted bowling attack where Australia's most threatening weapon was a desperately overworked if courageous Siddle and a very inexperienced Nathan Lyon but this wicket is a totally different one and so is the attack they are about to square up against. I expect the wicket to get worse and I expect the Aussie line to be a lot tighter -a "you miss, we hit" mentality.There'll be LBWs and bowled's and a few off the gloves and it won't be the Saffa's batting lineup's fault - it will be Smith's for sending the opposition in. It may not be as spectacular as the first innings where SA seemed ill-prepared, but it will happen. Yes the outcome of the series is still up for grabs but if you think SA can win in the immortal words of Darryl Kerrigan "tell him he's dreaming!"

Posted by mondotv on (February 15, 2014, 7:25 GMT)

Wow - almost identical comments from English fans after Brisbane debacle - time to change the team, bring in this guy or that guy for one of the underperforming players.. (this time they're a little earlier) Really? How about letting Morkel open the attack with Steyn - that would be a good start. Morkel has real fire and venom and on a pitch like this he's a handful. OK he's a bit short and a bit wide at times but Steyn would have benefitted from some pressure up the other end. Yes I know its been tried before and Morne struggled with the new ball, but he still looks the most out and out intimidator in the SA lineup. Tactical blunder on a pitch like this. Too late now for recriminations - the kangaroo has bolted. If you blame anyone, blame Smith - his captaincy over the 3 days should come under scrutiny.

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 15, 2014, 7:02 GMT)

@AltafPatel Unfortunately AB's sublime natural talent isn't something the rest of his team can absorb. At that pace what you do is largely instinctive, and what AB does instinctively is sublime to watch. If you think Graeme Smith is going to bat like AB now because AB says it's not that hard, you're sorely mistaken. If people could just bat like AB because AB says it's not that hard then no team in world cricket would ever get all out in 5 days. It's not like anyone in the cricket world thinks AB's technique is garbage and he has loads of weaknesses and therefore wouldn't be worth replicating. There's a huge difference between being AB de Villiers and trying to be like AB de Villiers.

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 15, 2014, 6:54 GMT)

@John Welsford On the KP thing, I've had that thought too. KP's off spin is probably a bit better than either Peterson or Duminy, and he can bat better than both of them by a mile as well. If SA had him at 6 it'd be a whole different look.

Posted by bren19 on (February 15, 2014, 6:36 GMT)

Enjoying the archives of the comments before the tour. Lots of people offended that people had the nerve to say Aust has the best bowling attack. Lots of people saying that SA will win because the aussie batting line up is weak. Lots saying mitch will revert to his old ways. How the tune has changed. Now people are looking to change SA bowling attack, change their batting line up etc. I submit all of you who have been waxing lyrical about them being the best in the world and unbeatable, then back them in to win the series from here.

Posted by AltafPatel on (February 15, 2014, 6:36 GMT)

Still it's too early to judge outcome of match or series. The way SA won series in Aus in 2012 after being dominated in first 2 matches and half of third. They had similar situation against India in first match last month. The only plus point from Aus was body-language bowling from Johnson but as he is exposed by AB, it will not be easier for Johnson to attack and frighten batsmen again.

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 6:22 GMT)

Worst day in South African Test Cricket history. Played like a team thoroughly beaten and embaressed to be on the field. No pressure on the Aussies at all. Smith is not performing and has not held his team together. Why can't our batsmen deal with the short ball anymore? What did they expect? Amla has lost all form and is fast losing his reputation. All the bowlers have been worked out and seem to be incapable of threatening. De Kock and Beuran Hendricks must come into the side. At this rate we might as well ask KP to come and play for us.

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 15, 2014, 6:22 GMT)

@Macker60 Morkel can be that, someone just needs to fix his line and length. He bowls way too short all the time and often not even at the batsman, it's actually kind of painful to watch. I think he gets carried away with his extra bounce but even if he pitches up a bit he still is going to get extra bounce, it's just going to catch an edge high on the bat a whole lot more often instead of sailing by.

Philander actually bowls a lot like McGrath but doesn't have the same leverage or the same consistency (his consistency isn't bad at all but McGrath was ridiculous). McGrath just nibbled around your off stump on a perfect length to hit the top of off, and with no release at the other end he always either caught you between playing and leaving or trying to score off him because Warne/Lee/etc were making it too difficult, often resulting in complete failure.

Posted by Protears on (February 15, 2014, 6:00 GMT)

I think it is time to start looking at the new bloods, De Lange, Viljoen, Abbott and Beuren Hendricks also Simon Harmer out bowled Robin Petersen in the friendly game played. Morne has not penetration or aggression despite his gifts and I don't think Ryan McLaren is a test calibre player. For me Hendricks and Abbott are good mentions to play and both are bowling extremely well.

How much longer can you not play De Kock or Van Zyl, the two most ready up and coming batsmen, if Duminy is to be saved it will be his role as the spinner in the team but JP Duminy has lived on ceremony for quite a while now in test cricket and done sweet nothing with the bat.

Overall the performance is below acceptable standards when playing poorly, complete disinterest. I am hoping the new deal we signed sees us get more then 4-5 tests in a year because you can see from the Indian series that a lot was not working well and form is everything.

Posted by Macker60 on (February 15, 2014, 5:56 GMT)

First a Question, Then the Answer, Can anyone tell me Why Glen McGrath was the Best Fast Bowler in the Last 50 odd years, While Bowling a 130 plus Speeds, Rarely bowling over 140, ANSWER, Because at the Other End he had Craig McDemott, Brett Lee, Jason Gilespie, Micheal Kasprowicz, Each and every one Capable of Bowler Fast and Dangerous, Yes Also had a Legspinner by the name of Warnie, But it was the Fast and Dangerous Bowlers that Help him the Most, So much so that when we did not have express pace in the side Australia did not Win. So if You want to see the Best in Steyn you need to support him with dangerous Bowlers, now that his Pace has Slowed. And Trust me Prior to this series only Steyn was Feared by Batsmen.

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 5:55 GMT)

SA's bowling attack is too pedestal, after so much hype and noise. MJ has dented their psyche and now SA look like England in the Ashes. They should seriously sit down and take an audit of the players they pick

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 15, 2014, 5:40 GMT)

@RaadQ Congratulations on showing how little you understand of test cricket. You want De Kock to keep and open the batting in test matches, like he does in one dayers, on debut in international test cricket? If he did that this match he would have spent 130+ overs keeping and then had to run off the field for the changeover and immediately come out to bat, facing Mitchell Johnson with a brand new ball. You must really enjoy trial by fire. Are you genuinely expecting him to succeed in those circumstances? Do you think he would have far outshone Smith and Alviro if he had to do that? Do you think a test is a one day international?

Posted by Diaz54 on (February 15, 2014, 5:22 GMT)

The Balance of the side is wrong. Needed to beef up batting. The loss of Kallis is so significant. Duminy and Peterson and Mclaren need to be dropped. Get fast bowler on form, Henricks, or Parnell perhaps and bring in Quinton.

It is important for SA to fight back 2nd innings....make the Aussies bowl at least 120 overs so that they are not fresh for 2 nd test match. Ideally save the test match combination of weather and resistance!!!

Posted by sergio11 on (February 15, 2014, 5:14 GMT)

i am an indian..first of all..i never thought Johnson will bowl as good as he did in ashes in those small grounds in SA..but god he was just awesome!!..all of a sudden Steyn in front of him looking like a "nothing" bowler!!! SA is miss the services of Kallis..they dont have a good 4th bowler..to keep one end tight..may be 7 batsmen and 4 seamers will be the choice..instead of picking mclarean or peterson someone like Abbott..and de kock at 6 or 7...and steyn from the IND tour onward dropped pace a bit...nw more in that 140 mark...and also Morkel need to step up..he need to attack a bit more instead of waiting for pitch to misbehave or batsman to make mistake..he got pace and bounce..may be target the body of the batsman..bit like Johnson..i think if there is any bowler around who can do a bit of "Johnson style bolwing" its defntly Morne....

Posted by   on (February 15, 2014, 5:05 GMT)

During the World series (packer) Era the World Series Aussie team with a rejuvenated Dennis Lillee (just back from a comprehensive rehab programme for come back after stress fractures which is history) scared the wits out of the infamous Proteas (then unofficial world champs because of apartheid). So Mitch Lillee doing the same now is no surprise .

Posted by ZkAneela on (February 15, 2014, 5:03 GMT)

I think SA has the last chance today,if they somehow managed to draw this test,otherwise it will be all Australia,not only this test match but for all the test series.

Posted by Masking_Tape on (February 15, 2014, 4:46 GMT)

South Africa is nothing but all talk. I hope the Ozzies give it to em. There would be nothing better than that.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (February 15, 2014, 3:49 GMT)

@ Chris_P commented "Got to agree here. I have always rated the Boks fielding highly, along with the Kiwis, so it very much surprised me with their efforts. They are better than this."Seconded. Worst fielding display I have seen from them

Posted by Greatest_Game on (February 15, 2014, 3:36 GMT)

@ Beertjie writes that "Smith needs to go as captain NOW. AB needs to take over, give up the gloves and bat at #4. Use JP as your spinner bowling into the footmarks created by Johnson and Parnell. This team can fight back: Smith, Van Zyl, Amla, de Villiers (c), de Kock, du Plessis, Duminy, Parnell, Philander, Steyn, Morkel. Be proactive, Hudson. Why wait until the series is over? If you gamble now, all may not be lost."

Good heavens, Beertjie, we would not want common sense to rear it's ugly head in the SA selector decisions! What will we have next? No quota?

Agree with your analysis except Parnell. Bring in Beuran Hendricks, who has been seriously on song, or Abbott. Parnell is not a front line bowler. He's more erratic than Front Foot Lunge! Otherwise, Alviro has failed once too often & Robbie P is not a viable option. JP too does not pull his weight as a batsman. His soft dismissal left AB without a partner. SA could have put up a score if AB had support at the other end.

Posted by RaadQ on (February 15, 2014, 2:21 GMT)

All I see is a bunch of excuses. SA openers + Amla have been terrible for a while now. The pace trio was struggling against India too. Kallis provided the perfect balance to the team, without him, and a strike spinner, I no longer see SA as a number one team. SA now only have AB Devilliers and Duminy to count on. The trio seems to only thrive against technically weak teams such as Pak. Bring in quinton de kock and let AB extend his batting life. Get rid of petersen and let duminy be the spinner. De Kock[+], Smith*, Amla, Faf, Devilliers, Elgar/other, Duminy, McLaren, Philander, Steyn, Morkel.

Posted by inefekt on (February 15, 2014, 1:00 GMT)

This is all a bit premature, given South Africa's recent history of pulling out miraculous draws when faced with similar mountains to climb. The difference though is Mitchell Johnson (and the absence of a certain allrounder). But even he is still prone to the odd innings where he doesn't seem as penetrating with his bowling so who knows, he may well have an off innings when Australia take the field again. This is test match cricket, anything can happen.

Posted by one-eyed-but-keepinitreal on (February 15, 2014, 0:46 GMT)

Does anyone else think that Steyn's figures in this match actually flatter his efforts? Only one of his wickets fell to a bit of zing. The rest have been wide low 130 kmh pies that have been rather unluckily chopped on. I think he is aware of it because I have only seen him celebrate only one of the wickets with his normal over the top histrionics. At over 140 kmh he is a great bowler. At 132 kmh there are many better. In this match I would rate the bowling of the other five main seamer s as better regardless of the figures and MJ's bowling as more than twice as good.

Posted by one-eyed-but-keepinitreal on (February 15, 2014, 0:34 GMT)

Please don't indulge in revisionism and invent the term "the spirit of Adelaide". For that spirit to occur again SA would rely on Australia being a pace bowler down for most of the match and an lbw decision where a ball which pitches in line with the stumps being astonishingly deemed to not do so. If anyone embodies the spirit of Adelaide it would be Peter Siddle whose heroics with the ball almost carried Australia to an unlikely victory under such extreme circumstances.

Posted by dunger.bob on (February 15, 2014, 0:18 GMT)

It's an interesting thing with the fielding. Just where is the line between bad luck and pressure. .. I'll try to explain myself. As DC says in the article a ball can burst through the hands. It can happen. That's bad luck. If it happens again, well that can be unlucky too, and maybe a tad sloppy. A third time? Sloppy. A fourth time? ... I'm starting to think it could be something else by then. Maybe the pressure is getting to them. ... As I recall England did near enough to exactly the same thing. Why is that? .. My theory is our team is rushing other teams along with their style of play and messing with heads as a result. Something about our method is taking opponents out of their comfort zones and somehow making them play at a different pace and with different intent to what they normally would.

Anyway, this match ain't over yet. Could be rain or a massive come back by SA. Who knows, it can happen.

Posted by SHER-A-PANJAB on (February 14, 2014, 23:57 GMT)

Why does any body not drop Smith from captaincy and send him down the order. Or call ELGAAR instead of Smith and Alviro ,,,,,,,,,,,

Posted by disco_bob on (February 14, 2014, 23:45 GMT)

SA were already scarred, now they're scarred AND scared.

Posted by chechong0114 on (February 14, 2014, 23:45 GMT)

Before the first ball of this series was bowled there was an article on this website with the heading " A Mouth Watering Pace Battle Awaits" my response to that heading was who is going to enjoy that mouth watering prospect, the players, the commentators or the huge amount of empty seats that will be on display throughout this series at all the grounds.I guess someone thought my comment was offensive and they refused to publish it on the site, but low and behold reality in itself has proven me right and the site has now published their own article on this worrying trend. The history between these 2 teams and the quality of cricket that is on display in this series is 2nd to none and there is no reason why there should be a single empty seat in the stands of any of the 3 venues at least for the first 3 days of each test match. But CSA like most of the other cricket boards and the ICC has failed miserably to capitalise on anything financially. Its time them to embrace change people.

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 23:16 GMT)

Kallis - an undisputed legend who still never got as much acclaim as he should have (and I am an Australian saying that ! ). But yes, I do think that seeing Mitch in the Ashes series did bring his imminent retirement forward a bit ;- Wise man.

We should all enjoy watching MJ - one rarely sees bowlers of his ilk. In my time there was the younger Lillee, Thommo for sheer scare factor, and the Windies' Holding, Roberts, Marshall, Ambrose et al. Wasim and Hadlee were greats, but without the sheer fear factor. Imagine Johnson in the pre "helmet/all over padding, big bats, great gloves" days !

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 22:39 GMT)

Come on guys, give credit to Mitch, but nothing to feel bad abt SA. Still 2 days to go. Anything can happen. Let's say even if SA loose this match, it does not undermine their capability. They still have 2 more matches to play in the series.One thing SA should amke amends is their below standard fielding so far in this match. Good luck SA. You are a fighting team and proved umpteen times that you can bounce back.

Posted by pat_one_back on (February 14, 2014, 22:08 GMT)

SA poor fielding indicates Smith and his team have come to the powerful realisation that Eng were not simply a wreck of their own making. This view, repeated here time & time again by almost every non-Australian fan here has been put to rest to the embarrassment of many. Like Eng, SA are being blown away by what should soon be recognised as the No 1 team on the planet. This is looking like Aust's most complete performance of the summer out of 6 dominant showings. Those calling for Steyn & Morkel to match Johnson's fearsome lines & lengths, note that they've tried and simply can't execute to the same effect, significantly due to Aust patient yet aggressive batting but mainly because he's a better bowler right now.

Posted by jonesy2isaBigot on (February 14, 2014, 21:29 GMT)

Well as a 'Pom' I am still shocked by this relentless battering of SA. Not so much the bowling from Oz with Mitch in 'Ashes mode' - I expected that ( remember 2009 anyone?). The most shocking thing was SA letting Oz recover to nearly 400 all out, and then the SA attack being ruined in the second dig! Just pure mayhem. Hats off to Australia you have just shown some real class against a better team than England! Good viewing but I expect SA to fight back later in the series. All in as a neutral this cricket is really exciting to watch!

Posted by Jonman on (February 14, 2014, 21:21 GMT)

Nobody does the foot-on-the-neck quite as ruthlessly as the Aussies.

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 21:17 GMT)

beware of Sir Mitchell. south africans are the next England on the trot..........

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 21:10 GMT)

Mitchel is bowling a world apart and Australia are on a high. South Africa is not playing their best. They have not had much test cricket and they have several injuries and niggles to their bowling attack. But lets all not get ahead of ourselves, you can't write them off. They may well lose this test, but this team has an uncanny knack of fighting back. They haven't lost a series since 2009. That's not luck.

Posted by stumpedlloyd on (February 14, 2014, 21:09 GMT)

@SirWilliam: Thank you! I was about to say the same thing. Some may view us as dinosaurs, but it's gratifying to know there are a few of us still around.

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 21:07 GMT)

What a disgraceful performance from SAF, nowhere befitting a team ranked No 1 and that too at home, especially considering the experience they have.

Posted by SirWilliam on (February 14, 2014, 20:03 GMT)

There might have been a din of uninterest, but certainly not one of disinterest!

Posted by samincolumbia on (February 14, 2014, 20:02 GMT)

Based on the SA fans comments here, they are definitely scarred!

Posted by Beertjie on (February 14, 2014, 19:55 GMT)

This game is lost, but perhaps not the series. Smith needs to go as captain NOW. AB needs to take over, give up the gloves and bat at #4. Use JP as your spinner bowling into the footmarks created by Johnson and Parnell. This team can fight back: Smith, Van Zyl, Amla, de Villiers (c), de Kock, du Plessis, Duminy, Parnell, Philander, Steyn, Morkel. Be proactive, Hudson. Why wait until the series is over? If you gamble now, all may not be lost.

Posted by wapuser on (February 14, 2014, 19:46 GMT)

Who cares what is happening specifically csa board who had got the reward for supporting big 3 in form of ipl haroon lorgat and etc and wether sa loose is not a matter of concern as money had already win I am hoping a day to come when sa is not at no 1,2 or 3 and big 3 will place them under their foot

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 19:38 GMT)

the difference between two teams is Mitchell jonshon.great improvement with pace

Posted by jishubhai on (February 14, 2014, 19:38 GMT)

This is a new Johnson.....he was reborn on the last ashes...currently he is way ahead of any other bowlers in the bowler.....I was hoping Steyn could match him...but Mitchell proved otherwise......he is in the form of his life.....He is destroying the class opponents mentally...and it requires a great mental strength to counter this highest class of fast bowling.......AB did a great job and he could do it again but I doubt if he can lift the others...I think Faf will do better....but it shall be match for Johnson.....cricket is a team game...but I have never seen one bowler who is defining the whole series between two quality opponents.....beauty of test cricket .....you can see this kind of fast bowling for so long....above 90 m/hr all the time......take a bow Mitchell......it is really great to see your one man show....

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 19:19 GMT)

Johnson doing well, is great, but people are forgetting who Australia has in the wings once they are fully fit too pat cummins who terrorised the boks the last SAF tour and is still very young and just getting fit again after really bad back problems, he 150k+ bowler too and can also bat

then we have james pattinson who is also 150k + bowler just getting over injury problems, I'd love to see all three bowling at boks , there would be no respite (btw pattinson can bat too)

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 19:18 GMT)

@Tauhid astoroid levels??? yeah genius..mitch has always bowled fast..radar has been a problem and he seems to have fixed it. Hopefully he stays fit, in any case he has around 250 test wickets and will definitely go on to get 300+..excellent number in my book..

Posted by Winsome on (February 14, 2014, 19:08 GMT)

I'm damn sure they can fight back. They just love going for a draw and will force the Aus bowlers to be as accurate as they possibly can be. I hope Lyon is switched on. You can't leave everything up to Mitch.

Posted by rahsun on (February 14, 2014, 19:04 GMT)

Kallis already knew the outcome of this series. He chose to retire at the right time. Smart play by Kallis.I don't think even Kallis would have survived Mitch's pace and bounce with those aging reflexes.

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 18:51 GMT)

@Legfinedeep! Agreed that India is the worst when it tours outside, but so are others. You win in your country and I win in my country. If it a green top with fast bowlers buzzing around then it is strategy. When it is spinning wickets, you say that we are flat track bullies. England won once in 20+Years, Australia had termed India as the final frontier. SA is the only team to have done well in India. Kudos to that. But don't say that Indians cannot speak until SA has lost 10 test matches in a row. SA always chokes when it comes to big games. NZ beat SA in World Cup 2011. For such a fine team SA is yet to win in world cup. One champions trophy to their name. WI has won T20 championship when SA were strong in 2012. Please understand that SA is faltering. SA didn't want to go for win in 1st test against a team which has lost 10 tests in a row. It shows how good are you. Indians never play well outside India. But you are also not doin it!! Period!!

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 18:46 GMT)

Kallis batted 30 overs with faf and helped SA avoid follow on and thats when the comeback started and then in second innings was obstinate for 40 overs all on one leg.Faf did get the accolades but without that great man SA would have conceded a 275 run lead and aussies would have had more overs to bowl to.That Kallis strangely said enough is baffling and its big hole which which needs to filled by an absolute blocker of batsman someone in vein of Ken Barrington

Posted by DC75 on (February 14, 2014, 18:40 GMT)

@legfinedeep - why is it that an indian fan cannot comment. I am a great fan of SA team, it does not mean that they are sometimes very ordinary especially when Kallis is not around and Steyn is tired out. Oh I see, it is not the pop gun attack that you are facing but 150k red missiles from Johnson thats why we cannot comment, is it? Grow up man this game is difficult to save now, and by the way Aus have always done very well in SA, so it is not totally unexpected either;

Posted by StreetView on (February 14, 2014, 18:38 GMT)

All those who think Johnson is better than Steyn, need to realize that all it needs to wear down Johnson now is an injury or a sub continent tour. Steyn has bowled consistently like this for years. Johnson is a beast now though.

Posted by Chris_P on (February 14, 2014, 18:37 GMT)

Got to agree here. I have always rated the Boks fielding highly, along with the Kiwis, so it very much surprised me with their efforts. They are better than this.

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 18:19 GMT)

Being number 1 doesn't mean you have to dominate every game, but can mean being able to save a test match in situations like these. And this number 1 test team has done that over and over again, all over the world. You can't keep them down. They have a great fighting spirit. RSA can save this test match and if they don't lose too many, can even win. They have that spirit in them.

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 18:12 GMT)

Johnson will keep on landing those body blows. Its normal for them to run scared because it really hurts to be hit by a ball moving at +145 km/h. The only remedy I see here is a counter attack from the SA attack. They should trade fire for fire like the old West Indies of the 80s which had the likes of Marshall and Holding. When they went down under they employed at Johnsonly bodyline tactic and they rattled the Aussies with their own medicine. Steyn and Morkel both can bowl at +145km/h too so why can't he inflict similar damage ?

Posted by legfinedeep on (February 14, 2014, 17:57 GMT)

SA lose one match and all the bashers are going to come out of the woodwork. If you are from India, then please don't comment until SA has lost 10 test matches in a row. Thanks. Ps. Kallis has left such a gaping void in this team, I find it hard to understand why he had to retire and leave his team in the lurch like this.

Posted by Dr.Vindaloo on (February 14, 2014, 17:54 GMT)

Warner's stats as follows: 1st inngs 1037 runs at an average of 37.03, 2nd inngs 949 runs at an average of 47.45. What should we make of that? Some would say that second innings runs are harder to get, but not when your team is 200 runs ahead on first innings which Aus have been in 5 of their last 6 tests. Basically Warner thrives when Australia are well ahead in the game, when the pressure is off. He kicks teams when they are down. I think he'd like that description.

Posted by Aussasinator on (February 14, 2014, 17:36 GMT)

SA stand decimated already. It is already there in their minds. they are scared and scarred already. Change Graeme smith. They need a more aggressive skipper.

Posted by   on (February 14, 2014, 17:31 GMT)

How exactly is Philander the world number 1? The rankings are so out of kilter. SA need to keep their team together. Look what happened to England--Trott, KP, Swann, Prior...all may be gone for ever from international test cricket, as also Monty, Tremlett, and Rankin.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (February 14, 2014, 17:26 GMT)

I think the pressure of being no.1 has finally caught up to SA. They resemble team India from 2011 who were no.1 and then went to England only to be beaten 4-0. I am not saying SA will go down the same way, but the signs are already there. Honestly, Australia are playing well at the moment in conditions very similar to back home. However, I don't think this Australian team can play like this anywhere else except in conditions that favour them plus they have a good record in SA historically. SA can still come back here but they need to pull a giant rabbit out of a small hat. SA fans will no doubt be optimistic but as someone who has watched cricket over the years, I know that's going to be hard. SA are so far behind in this match that only a miracle can save them.

Posted by gautam_the_matrix on (February 14, 2014, 17:16 GMT)

Can anybody provide me the batting avg. & strike rate of David Warner inning-wise? I think there will be huge difference in his 1st and 2nd inning avg. as well as strike rate.

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