South Africa v Australia, 1st Test, Centurion, 4th day February 15, 2014

South Africa's bruises won't fade quickly

The bowling of Mitchell Johnson has made many people sit up and take notice, leading to comparisons with the very best. South Africa have now had their first-hand experience and it has been a chastening affair
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Cullinan: SA's batting looked out of depth

The closest Ali Bacher came to Sylvester Clarke's bowling was watching it, but the thought of the West Indian quick still makes him shudder. Clarke collected four five wicket-hauls on 1983-84 rebel tour and Bacher regarded him as the deadliest paceman around.

At tea time on Saturday, as Bacher contemplated the mess the South African line-up was in, largely at the hands of Mitchell Johnson, he made a confession. "I haven't seen bowling like that - I am talking real, lethal fast bowling - since Sylvester Clarke," he said.

Neither have South Africa, in a very long time. The last time a bowler claimed 12 wickets in a match against them was eight years ago when Muttiah Muralitharan did it in Sri Lanka which was the last series South Africa lost away from home. The only other bowlers to inflict the same damage on them since readmission are Matthew Hoggard, whose haul came in the 2004-05 series which South Africa also lost, and Shane Warne in 1994.

If you are the superstitious type, you may read something into Johnson's 12 at Centurion Park. Even if you are not, his performance will have an impact beyond statistics and you only needed to see the look in Bacher's eye to know that.

Johnson sliced through South Africa the way a blade goes through a perfect fillet steak. He cut through the quivering hunk of meat, showing no mercy to the tendons and muscle fibres that once held it together and exposed sparsely cooked flesh. If inflicted some serious bruises and whether those heal in the next five days will determine how well South Africa come back in this series.

They are not even sure how bad the eventual black and blue marks will be. It will take a few days for the scarring to really show, as it always does. So for now, it is brave faces, disappointment and the intention not to turn one defeat into a crisis. As Graeme Smith said, "we've lost a game of cricket." But it is how they lost that may give South Africa some sleepless nights.

Their top order, a quartet of strength, was decimated. Smith has been a Johnson-bunny before so he would have expected to be targeted and like he did against Zaheer Khan last year, he will have to find a way to get around Johnson. He only needs to think of how he combated Zaheer, by not closing the face of the bat too early, to realise it can be possible. Johnson is a vastly different bowler to Zaheer so the technical aspects will be different but if Smith consults with the right people they may be able to come up with something.

Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis showed signs of being able to adjust and both have the record to suggest their lapses will not extend into runs of poor form. Amla's mental strength has been tested since the day he started playing Test cricket. He has shown impenetrable qualities, proving doubters wrong all along and establishing himself as a figure of calm. That will come through again. Du Plessis' experience is far less but his two marathon innings to save games remain fresh in the mind. Hopefully his mind as well.

The concerns then are over Alviro Petersen and lower down, where JP Duminy has also struggled. Petersen was out to Johnson twice, the second time playing a less poor shot than the first but his tentativeness was still evident. When he endured a bad run against Pakistan it was a struggle to turn it around. He needs to make sure it does not this time. Duminy's talent is there for all to see but he fails to translate it time and time again. He has to work on not giving it away, something that is difficult when you know what is coming from the other end.

They are not even sure how bad the eventual black and blue marks will be. It will take a few days for the scarring to really show, as it always does

For that, the whole line-up only needs to look at Ryan McLaren. Felled by a delivery from Johnson, McLaren was bleeding from behind the ear and Smith said he looked "like he had been in a scrum with Victor and Bakkies," referring to the two South African lock forwards. That is the damage Johnson can do. No matter how much South Africa want to ignore it, they will not be able to. The image will be in the newspaper, the replays will be on television and YouTube and the memory will be in the mind.

The most important thing for them to do before they get to Port Elizabeth is develop what AB de Villiers said was an ability to "get over the fear of being hit." Maybe that will be scheduling a few sparring session with the Hekkie "The Hexecutioner," Budler, the home-grown WBA strawweight champion of the world. Maybe it means watching replays of the time Johnson struck Jacques Kallis in Durban 2008 until they no longer squirm at the visuals and realise that if this country's best cricketer could wear it, so can they. Maybe it is just about more time to prepare for the inevitable.

And the batsmen are not the only people Johnson will have left his mark on. The bowlers, particularly Dale Steyn, will be watching him in envy. Before this series the battle between Steyn and Johnson was seen as the one which would headline the contest. After one round, Johnson is well ahead of Steyn. South Africa's spearhead did not bowl badly - far from it - but he was not the main attraction and that is something he will not be used to.

His supporting acts, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel, were also backstage characters. Morkel is used to that, having being South Africa's unheralded hero on many an occasion but Philander may not like it.

He has not reached No. 1 by accident, and could be back to the fore as soon as next week. He will be desperate to lift, if only to show that he is still the top ranked bowler in the world, despite what Johnson did to South Africa over the last four days and not, as one Australian smirked "as much of a No.1 as South Africa's team is at the moment."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • aahahaa on February 17, 2014, 16:56 GMT

    @ModernUmpiresPlz, you are stating the obvious/ apparent or whatever. Johnson was all over the place, and infact out of the team not so long ago. point is , hitting the top of off is difficult, and not many can do it. pace cant be coached too. SA has pace in Morkel, DeLange and of course Steyn. point is intimidation and not about accuracy. it's about letting the batsmen know that you can hit him. you may not be very accurate, but you should always let the batter know that you got the tools to hurt him.speed and intent. so to SA, go out; take your chances; hurl at them with intent to hurt. attitude should be, if you want to play hardball, nice you are in the right country. to me SA has to physically hurt the Aussies to salvage the series. how to do it is simple hurl at the body at speed. well you got speed don't you.

  • shanks1967 on February 17, 2014, 10:12 GMT

    I think MJ was wonderful. But the reason why SA lost was not bad batting alone. I think the Trio of Steyn, Morkel and Philander should shoulder more than 70% of the responsibility for this defeat. People who followed these teams know that it is the bowlers who were going to call the shots. I think Steyn and Co were well below their best when compared to MJ&Co. I dont think Australia batted SA out of the game. SA bowled themselves out of the game. When Ind vs SA at Wanderers, Steyn was below par and the match was almost lost. Come Durban, day 2 morning, one devastating spell and India loses the test. See where I am coming from, scarring etc are good noises to make but it is in SA Bowlers hand. Please see top order stats for Aus against England. They were always 100 to 150 for 5 in almost all games in the first innings. With Steyn on Fire a repeat of 47 all out can very well be on the cards. Dont lose heart SA. Focus on Steyn and Philander.

  • crick_sucks on February 17, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    0-3, definitely. There is no way SA is coming back into this series. Besides they have lost every series against AUS at home. The only difference this time would be a white wash.

  • Insult_2_Injury on February 17, 2014, 2:49 GMT

    Why do Captains feel they need to walk in to the media's trap at pressers?

    Smith's comment that Johnson doesn't worry them and anyway, most of his wickets are tailenders is so easily disproved that Smith looks foolish making them. Even if he isn't talking about this Test where he took the 1st 3 in the 1st Inn & the 1st 2 in the 2nd - including Smith himself TWICE, then he can't be talking about the recent Ashes where Johnson made the break through in every Test. He can't be talking about previous Tests against the South Africans either as Johnson has carved through their top order in every series he's played. Why make a comment like that? Smith knows as well as anyone that his own spearhead - Steyn - not only wrecks top orders, but on instruction from Smith himself, mops up tails. That's the way Captains use strike bowlers now & for ever! He'd have been better sticking with the line of making a plan to combat pace, rather than the crazy tailender comment.

  • dalboy12 on February 17, 2014, 0:58 GMT

    It's Johnson technique that makes him so dangerous not just his speed. Others bowl just as quick - but he bowls left arm with a low arm action - from quite wide on the crease. This means the bowl is coming quickly, from an angle that batsman are not use to. And like the SA coach has said it also means, the bounce is a little inconsistent and can really fly up of the pitch. However all this means that the more good batsman face Johnson the more they will get use to him. Even England handled him a little better as the Ashes went on.

  • Chris_P on February 17, 2014, 0:04 GMT

    @jb633 I had the extreme pleasure of watching Shoaib bowl in the Sydney grade competition for Mosman (Brett Lee's team when he guested for a month) in front of about 50 people & he didn't hold back there either. I was glad I only ever got to 2nd grade, let me tell you! Reading Waugh's book confirmed his respect for him as an out & out fast bowler, although personally, I preferred Akram.

  • jb633 on February 16, 2014, 16:41 GMT

    @ChrisP, Yeah it wasn't consistent i am just commenting that he did have spells of brilliance. A spell he bowled at Lahore (although it says Colombo on youtube) was described by Gilchrist and Steve Waugh as the fastest and most hostile they ever faced. You are right that he wasn't consistent but over his career neither has Mitch been. Mitch is in tremendous form atm and if he can stay consistent for a couple of years people will put him into the great category no doubt.

  • Beertjie on February 16, 2014, 16:39 GMT

    Clarke was as mean as Croft and as likely to hit you as Roberts and Marshall. It's a good comparison, as I can attest. Mitch gets direct hits mainly because of poor technique. SAF need to calm down and show better judgment, like ABdV.

  • foursandsixes on February 16, 2014, 16:23 GMT

    The SA team didn't look like a top team even when India visited late last year. This only confirms it! There is no real top test team at the moment. The top 3-4 teams are good when playing in conditions that suit them.

  • on February 16, 2014, 15:35 GMT

    Once the new ball can be negotiated it should get "easier" to score. The dangerous bit is in the beginning, with the ball new and hard and being assisted by the pitch. Smith is an opening batsman of sound technique, Alviro Petersen not, I'm afraid. SA need to find another opener who maybe doesn't score many runs, but is able to weather the storm of Johnson's new ball - in this way, this batsman will actually make it possible for those lower down to score. This is the role of a true test opener. In addition I'd at least consider Beuran Hendricks if for no other reason that he'll add variation to the quicks in his being LH-ed, sorry for McLaren who I like a lot. No massive changes required, just these tweaks. Robbie Petersen, while no Shane Warne, is valauable in the team - Alviro not.

  • aahahaa on February 17, 2014, 16:56 GMT

    @ModernUmpiresPlz, you are stating the obvious/ apparent or whatever. Johnson was all over the place, and infact out of the team not so long ago. point is , hitting the top of off is difficult, and not many can do it. pace cant be coached too. SA has pace in Morkel, DeLange and of course Steyn. point is intimidation and not about accuracy. it's about letting the batsmen know that you can hit him. you may not be very accurate, but you should always let the batter know that you got the tools to hurt him.speed and intent. so to SA, go out; take your chances; hurl at them with intent to hurt. attitude should be, if you want to play hardball, nice you are in the right country. to me SA has to physically hurt the Aussies to salvage the series. how to do it is simple hurl at the body at speed. well you got speed don't you.

  • shanks1967 on February 17, 2014, 10:12 GMT

    I think MJ was wonderful. But the reason why SA lost was not bad batting alone. I think the Trio of Steyn, Morkel and Philander should shoulder more than 70% of the responsibility for this defeat. People who followed these teams know that it is the bowlers who were going to call the shots. I think Steyn and Co were well below their best when compared to MJ&Co. I dont think Australia batted SA out of the game. SA bowled themselves out of the game. When Ind vs SA at Wanderers, Steyn was below par and the match was almost lost. Come Durban, day 2 morning, one devastating spell and India loses the test. See where I am coming from, scarring etc are good noises to make but it is in SA Bowlers hand. Please see top order stats for Aus against England. They were always 100 to 150 for 5 in almost all games in the first innings. With Steyn on Fire a repeat of 47 all out can very well be on the cards. Dont lose heart SA. Focus on Steyn and Philander.

  • crick_sucks on February 17, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    0-3, definitely. There is no way SA is coming back into this series. Besides they have lost every series against AUS at home. The only difference this time would be a white wash.

  • Insult_2_Injury on February 17, 2014, 2:49 GMT

    Why do Captains feel they need to walk in to the media's trap at pressers?

    Smith's comment that Johnson doesn't worry them and anyway, most of his wickets are tailenders is so easily disproved that Smith looks foolish making them. Even if he isn't talking about this Test where he took the 1st 3 in the 1st Inn & the 1st 2 in the 2nd - including Smith himself TWICE, then he can't be talking about the recent Ashes where Johnson made the break through in every Test. He can't be talking about previous Tests against the South Africans either as Johnson has carved through their top order in every series he's played. Why make a comment like that? Smith knows as well as anyone that his own spearhead - Steyn - not only wrecks top orders, but on instruction from Smith himself, mops up tails. That's the way Captains use strike bowlers now & for ever! He'd have been better sticking with the line of making a plan to combat pace, rather than the crazy tailender comment.

  • dalboy12 on February 17, 2014, 0:58 GMT

    It's Johnson technique that makes him so dangerous not just his speed. Others bowl just as quick - but he bowls left arm with a low arm action - from quite wide on the crease. This means the bowl is coming quickly, from an angle that batsman are not use to. And like the SA coach has said it also means, the bounce is a little inconsistent and can really fly up of the pitch. However all this means that the more good batsman face Johnson the more they will get use to him. Even England handled him a little better as the Ashes went on.

  • Chris_P on February 17, 2014, 0:04 GMT

    @jb633 I had the extreme pleasure of watching Shoaib bowl in the Sydney grade competition for Mosman (Brett Lee's team when he guested for a month) in front of about 50 people & he didn't hold back there either. I was glad I only ever got to 2nd grade, let me tell you! Reading Waugh's book confirmed his respect for him as an out & out fast bowler, although personally, I preferred Akram.

  • jb633 on February 16, 2014, 16:41 GMT

    @ChrisP, Yeah it wasn't consistent i am just commenting that he did have spells of brilliance. A spell he bowled at Lahore (although it says Colombo on youtube) was described by Gilchrist and Steve Waugh as the fastest and most hostile they ever faced. You are right that he wasn't consistent but over his career neither has Mitch been. Mitch is in tremendous form atm and if he can stay consistent for a couple of years people will put him into the great category no doubt.

  • Beertjie on February 16, 2014, 16:39 GMT

    Clarke was as mean as Croft and as likely to hit you as Roberts and Marshall. It's a good comparison, as I can attest. Mitch gets direct hits mainly because of poor technique. SAF need to calm down and show better judgment, like ABdV.

  • foursandsixes on February 16, 2014, 16:23 GMT

    The SA team didn't look like a top team even when India visited late last year. This only confirms it! There is no real top test team at the moment. The top 3-4 teams are good when playing in conditions that suit them.

  • on February 16, 2014, 15:35 GMT

    Once the new ball can be negotiated it should get "easier" to score. The dangerous bit is in the beginning, with the ball new and hard and being assisted by the pitch. Smith is an opening batsman of sound technique, Alviro Petersen not, I'm afraid. SA need to find another opener who maybe doesn't score many runs, but is able to weather the storm of Johnson's new ball - in this way, this batsman will actually make it possible for those lower down to score. This is the role of a true test opener. In addition I'd at least consider Beuran Hendricks if for no other reason that he'll add variation to the quicks in his being LH-ed, sorry for McLaren who I like a lot. No massive changes required, just these tweaks. Robbie Petersen, while no Shane Warne, is valauable in the team - Alviro not.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 16, 2014, 15:15 GMT

    @TheBigBoodha I think Amla's shield would have exploded on impact but at least the grille of his helmet would have suffered 50% less dent.

  • vallavarayar on February 16, 2014, 14:36 GMT

    Better still, Saffer batters need to practice against Steyn and Morne.

  • Bockee on February 16, 2014, 13:53 GMT

    "Never turn your back on Fear. It should always be in front of you, like a thing that might have to be killed. My father taught me that, along with a few other things that have kept my life interesting." (Hunter S. Thompson).

    Also, never turn your back on Mitch...

  • bappcric on February 16, 2014, 13:41 GMT

    The approach against short-pitch ball is NOT "Get the heck out of the way as soon as you see where it is about to pitch". It is "Get a 1st view of the height the ball is about to take and THEN Get the heck out of the way". There is NO EXTRA REWARD for getting out of the way EARLIER than NECESSARY. All these hits to the helmet and dangerous areas of the body are always because of that.

    I see too often batsmen try to SHOW OFF how good they are against bouncers by taking evasive action way too soon - as if to ANNOY the bowler that they are very good against bouncers and SAW it WAY too EARLY - as if trying to tell the bowler "Bowling bouncers to them is useless". Not a good strategy.

  • bappcric on February 16, 2014, 13:36 GMT

    Notwithstanding SA's bad display against short-pitch bowling, this was the best short pitch bowling I have seen in a long long time. This is how it is done if you want CONSISTENTLY GOOD bouncers. The bowler HAS to HIT the DECK.

    He has to deliver the ball as if trying to injure the PITCH - NOT the batsman. The PITCH has to be considered his ENEMY number ONE.

  • TheBigBoodha on February 16, 2014, 13:23 GMT

    Disco-bob, no helmet = death! Literally. In fact the way Johnson gets the ball to explode off the pitch, I wouldn't be surprised to see someone getting seriously hurt here before the series is over. Personally, I'd be wearing a helmet and a Star Trek-type shield to deflect energy beams. If such things actually existed Smith's shield would already be down to about ten per cent.

  • bappcric on February 16, 2014, 12:49 GMT

    For bowlers around the world who feel left out and down by all this "This is Johnson's World and We are Living in it hoopla" - I have suggestion for you. COPY, COPY, COPY - Copy his STEELY BICEPS and FOREARM. Has anybody seen any FAT CELL in them ? Not me.

    By the way, are those TATOOS on his RIGHT hand distracting to the batsmen and should be banned ? Just a thought.

    I thought - except PdF - everybody else got themselves out in the 1st innings. Getting out of harms way of a bouncer is also a valid strategy - instead of always hoping to attack it. SA was probably thinking they were still playing against India.

  • steve48 on February 16, 2014, 12:19 GMT

    Certain scars will definitely not heal quickly. Before i start my point, i am not suggesting South Africa drop Smith, but if this was a 5 test, or back to back series, and he continued to fail against one bowler, MJ, at what point do you decide yes normally he is worth his place, but not against this bloke? Was Atherton worth his place against McGrath? Cullinan against Warne? Dennis Amiss went from a record breaking year to being dropped because of Lillee! Nobody would have argued that he wasn't England's best batsman at the time, but we acknowledged he wasn't even worth his place if Dennis was bowling! Bowlers get changed for horses for courses conditions, but do selectors often enough decide that we know batsman is one of our best, but he is a walking wicket against him? Again, this is a general point rather than one aimed at Smith, a South African great.

  • Hello13 on February 16, 2014, 11:42 GMT

    South Africa are a very good side, and I have great respect for them. They just have to get used to playing with 11 men, because for the last 16 years, they've basically had 12 players because of how great Kallis was. I fully expect South Africa to bounce back

  • tickcric on February 16, 2014, 9:37 GMT

    If I were the selector for SA, I wouldn't change any personnel for the 2nd test. If Alviro or JP can't can their replacement just come and turn it around. Go with the same side for 2nd test and try to comeback the way befitting of a number 1 side. Ultimately every team has some major players whose role are more crucial than others. SA won very few match due to Alviro, JP or their spinner. For SA to bounce back, Smith, Amla and now Faf in the batting department have to stand up alongside ABdV. And the fast bowlers will have to do their job. It is these major players who need to step up and fire to upturn the Australian momentum. This is test of character and you would expect the leaders to stand up.

  • on February 16, 2014, 8:58 GMT

    @Disco_Bob. The thing is, with the way Johnson is bowling, he is not always allowing batsman to play attacking shots (the helmet is irrelevant). Amla was not attempting a shot because he was wearing a helmet (the helmet is relevant), McLaren trying to sort of duck, and ask Smith and Faf is runs, not survival, were on their minds. With the speed and fitness and with his unusual action all just right it is the ball getting the wickets, not overconfidence because batsmen are wearing a lid. And all this just shows what a fantastic bat is ABDV. But as an Aussie, more Johnson, please (the helmet will be relevant).

  • disco_bob on February 16, 2014, 7:13 GMT

    In the Ashes, you know that everyone outside of those who knew, were wondering how long before before MJ reverted to his old spraying ways. By the end of the Ashes we knew that we saw something special, he just got even more deadly right till the end. Then it started again, 'can he do it against a genuine top shelf batting side', we shall see scoffed the doubters. England is one thing but it's a whole new ball game against SA they said. But now after one match I don't think anyone has any doubts what's coming up at Port Elizabeth, everyone probably even the SA supporters want to see the 'once in a lifetime' proposition that is MJ, do it again. Because it makes even Dale Steyn look ordinary.

  • disco_bob on February 16, 2014, 7:01 GMT

    Test players should not be wearing helmets to enable them to play shots they would not attempt otherwise, that's just cowardice. They should play as if they were not wearing helmets so the helmets are just like a safety net just in case. But these days batters use their protection in order to play shots they would not otherwise attempt. As a result when a genuine dangerous bowler like Mitch comes along, it's all mayhem and panic, unless you are the real deal, which obviously ADdV is.

  • Chris_P on February 16, 2014, 6:30 GMT

    jb633. I did say I rated Ahktar, & he certainly had his moments, as all fast bowlers did, but he certainly did NOT blow away the Aussies with any consistency that was implied. He was frighteningly quick, no doubt, but as shown by several other posters, his overall form against Australia was very. very ordinary.

  • imtiazjaleel on February 16, 2014, 6:21 GMT

    If SA can bow Australia under 200 then only i feel they can beat them, otherwise if they cross 300 then i am afraid it will be the same story repeated.

  • inefekt on February 16, 2014, 4:29 GMT

    Akhtar averaged 35.65 against Australia. That hardly constitutes blowing them away. A little research of your 'facts' is perhaps required next time you comment.

  • Mad_Hamish on February 16, 2014, 3:19 GMT

    @Protears Akhtar average 35.64 vs Aus with 31 wickets from 10 tests. He took 3 5 wicket hauls with a best of 5-21, next 5-99. Mitch now has 3 5 wicket hauls, 2 10wicket matches, and 54 wickets from 10 tests vs RSA @25.66

  • Gizza on February 16, 2014, 1:23 GMT

    @Chris_P, Protears might be talking about this Test http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/64001.html where Akhtar picked up 5 for 21 in Australia's 2nd innings. Australia still won by 41 runs though.

  • kepler22b on February 16, 2014, 0:41 GMT

    SurlyCynic on (February 15, 2014, 19:05 GMT)

    Very gracious comments sir.

  • jb633 on February 15, 2014, 23:43 GMT

    @ChrisP, go on youtube and just have a watch of some of his spells against Aus.

  • xtrafalgarx on February 15, 2014, 23:30 GMT

    I can't believe cricket was a legal game if the West Indies were pretty much like 4 Mitchell Johnson's. Facing them without helmets is a death sentence.

    Make no mistake, Johnson is BY FAR the most dangerous bowler in the world, in both a cricket sense and a physical sense. But as Daryll Cullinan said, one doesn't beat eleven. We caught everything, our batsmen got in and scored hundreds and got partnerships as well as bowling well.

    SA scored 200 all out both innings, we got 2 two hundred partnerships through Marsh/Smith and Doolan/Warner. SA got outplayed, simple as that.

  • chicko1983 on February 15, 2014, 22:24 GMT

    @protears: Akhtar averaged 35 against Aussies and if you actually take out one match from the ten they played him (one in Sri Lanka where he took 8 for the match) he would have averaged close to 45 against the Aussies in nine matches. He did bowl well in that Sri Lanka match but other than that, the Aussies you mention did very well against him and we're definitely not afraid of him. Mitchell Johnson here is making some of the best SA have produced (smith, Amla, ab) look ordinary. Just as he did the modern greats in England's lineup (cook, trott, bell, pietersen).

  • rickyvoncanterbury on February 15, 2014, 22:08 GMT

    You can live with bruises, it is the way he has destroyed careers in the memory's of supporters, Trott, Swann, Cook, KP and Flower, were seen as GREAT players/managers until last November now their legacy will not quite be the same.

  • tenrec on February 15, 2014, 21:43 GMT

    I'm amused to read comments that it won't take long for SA to find a paceman who can bowl at 150+ and then everything will be fine. It just doesn't happen like that. It didn't even happen to Johnson for years. This is one of those rare times when an individual finds sublime form and is unplayable.I have to go back decades to when Ambrose took Australia apart and ruined the careers of some notable cricketers to remember the same sort of effect. And if you're in any doubt, just listen to the buzz when Johnson is handed the ball. It is the summer of Johnson, sit back and enjoy the ride. My sons will be telling their children about it one day.

  • milepost on February 15, 2014, 21:25 GMT

    SA blown away. If they aren't giving up on wins against India they are folding meekly against Australia. Number 1? Oh boy that's funny, Australia are number 1 by a mile. This series is an awful mismatch that will end up 3-0 to Australia after crushing SA so badly some of the players will never play again. Like the Ashes, this is a career ending series for many of the SA players and staff. @FFL, normal service has been resumed.

  • on February 15, 2014, 21:17 GMT

    @aditya. We're talking about Johnson bowling in real cricket here. Take that IPL nonsense somewhere else.

  • fairfan70 on February 15, 2014, 21:16 GMT

    It was exhilarating to watch MJ in this test match. Hope he remains fit through the series. Joy of watching cricket is back!

  • TrumperLives on February 15, 2014, 20:51 GMT

    De Villiers showed that Johnson can be played - back and across like Ian Chappell. All the great players of fast bowling tend to employ this and are back foot players. AB's colleagues were either stranded on the crease or their back foot initially went to the share leg umpire. Heavy bats and the lack of express bowling has encouraged front foot drives, front foot cuts and front foot pulls. Mitch will be outing these blue sky, flat-track, front-foot bullies. Proteas -get back and across, use lighter bats, and stay side on. Bradman and Chappell the two best exponents of this technique.

  • on February 15, 2014, 20:37 GMT

    Watching modern batsmen, with all their protection, failing to cope with Johnson, gives you a new respect for the batsmen of 35 or so years ago, who had to cope with Lillee, Thomson, Roberts and Holding (all as quick as Johnson) plus Garner (quick very tall and very accurate) and Croft (who it's said, would have bounced his grandma if he thought it would get him a wicket), and all that with no protection. Good luck with that one.

  • Chris_P on February 15, 2014, 20:21 GMT

    @Protears , I've been following cricket for quite a while & certainly rate Akhtar right up there, but where exactly did he ever blow away Hayden, Langer, Ponting & the great Australian side? I saw several tests between them & can't recall any type of "blowing away"?

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 15, 2014, 20:16 GMT

    @FRpunk For some of the guys yeah, definitely. I think some of the SA batsmen were trying to prove they weren't scared of it though, so when they saw it short they stood tall and tried to play it or ride the bounce instead of just getting under it, especially in the first innings when the bounce was a lot more true. Obviously it was a bad idea.

  • FRpunk on February 15, 2014, 19:45 GMT

    @ModernUmpiresPlz but u have to agree that the " Fear " of that Devastating Bouncer is Helping Mitch . Batsman are expecting ( Fearing ) a Nasty Bowler most of the times which is only Allowing Mtch to Pitch it up @ 150 kmph . Man He has been Superb . i Love Fast Bowling . I love Attacking Test Cricket . Does`nt matters if its a Green Top or a Rank Turner . as Long as they are Producing Results , Its Great to Watch .

    as for Ind vs Nz . Hope India do indeed win this Test Match and End our Overseas Draught .

  • on February 15, 2014, 19:32 GMT

    No amount of advise can one give to SA at this moment.SA team may just be hoping that mJ gets sick or injured. I don't think that SA player could even get a proper sleep before any match in which MJ is playing. So great is the terror that this one player has created.

  • Protears on February 15, 2014, 19:27 GMT

    The talks of Morne vs Johnson, for a long time Morne has always had the ability to bounce batsmen at good pace but is so stuck in a rythme of line and length that he cannot be hostile, add to his temperament as being somewhat gentlemanly its not in his make up, the last factor is he is a traditional over the top fast bowler. Johnson is a lot like Akhtar just not as devastating, Shoaib in his pomp was up to mid 150's and had the inswinging yorker that blew away Langer, Hayden, Pontings et al in the great Australian years. Akhtar was feared because he doesn't have control and Johnson brings that back, the element of getting hit.

    Dale Steyn is not to blame other than if they knew he was injured and ill he should not have played.

    Lets hope its lessons learned and noted and we go to PE with a better game plan.

  • stormy16 on February 15, 2014, 19:23 GMT

    That was a knock out blow from the blue for SA who need to stand up for the next test again or run the risk of being overun like the English. This is as hard as test cricket gets in the form of lethal fast bowling from Mitch who was nothing short of sensational. Your talking about a team that boasts the best attack in the world in home conditions being blown away by fast left arm thunderbolts. I dont understand how the SA attacj, after wnning the toss and bowling, allowed Aus to get to 400. While Mitch is a problem, SA must do the job on the Aus batting to have a chance.

  • SurlyCynic on February 15, 2014, 19:05 GMT

    As an SA fan, firstly congrats to Aus. Johnson was truly awesome, operating at a level few have reached in the history of the game. Not great to see SA get destroyed but as a cricket lover it's good to see real pace as it's so rare. Good to see Marsh getting runs too.

    From an SA perspective my heart sank as soon as I saw McLaren and Peterson in the team. Bits and pieces players. Peterson's 'spin' is no better than Duminy's in SA so replace him with a batsman like Van Zyl or Elgar. Philander is a containing bowler once the ball is old so the 4th seamer needs to be Parnell, Abbott or Beuran Hendricks, maybe De Lange in the longer term.

    But it's also clear that this team is coming to the end of it's cycle. Kallis gone, Smith near the end, Steyn has more niggles and can't ramp it up as often as 5 years ago. Young talent needs to be brought in soon to rebuild.

    But whatever we do, if Johnson bowls like that again, particularly if the pitches have variable bounce, then Aus will win 3-0.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 15, 2014, 19:01 GMT

    @FRpunk It was more of a mottled covering of green but it was mottled all over. Nothing like the properly dark green greentop that NZ rolled out for India that India is rolling NZ on. MJ doesn't just bowl bouncers though, they were just the most effective way forward in this test. If you actually watched the Ashes series recently you'll know how many seriously good fuller length deliveries he bowled. He had a lot of guys trapped LBW or bowled in that series.

    @aahahaa I've already countered you in another article but let me say it again. You can't just get any old guy who can bowl about 150 and tell him to hit a badge on the other end of the pitch. It's just not that simple. Johnson's bouncer is amazingly accurate. Morne bowled a few but they were all over the place, some good, some bad, some terrible. If you want it to work the vast majority have to be good.

  • atique.sa on February 15, 2014, 18:54 GMT

    yeah sure not quickly but easily and surely ,sa cricket in the same situation as indian,hard to find replacements of retired greats. 3-0 whitewash on cards

  • on February 15, 2014, 18:43 GMT

    There is only one Smart S.African in all these carnage. J.Kallis. He knew what is coming and smartly retired before Aussies landed. He can afford to, given his accomplishments and age. Rest of the poor souls need to face more bombshells in a weeks time.

  • aahahaa on February 15, 2014, 18:33 GMT

    bodyline bowling...thats all it is..no need for analysis or lengthy articles. hit them back. intimidation is what will get you out of it. you lost because you couldn't stand up to intimidation.

  • FRpunk on February 15, 2014, 18:30 GMT

    Green Pitches . thats what SA Need at the moment . I missed this Test match so i am not sure if this pitch really was a Green Top . If it was a Green Top then i don`t think Aus would have Scored 400 + runs . but if this Pitch really was tough to bat on then full credit to Australia . They have been Superb since the Ashes . Mitch is gonna Create Problems in any types of Pitches . He has the pace . He is the FASTEST Bowler in the World at the Moment . A green Top would be More than handful for SA as it would help Steyn Regain his Confidence .. He should remind himself that he still is best bowler in the world . Sa can Bounce Back but Aussies in their Current Mood are just Lethal .

  • on February 15, 2014, 18:20 GMT

    Haven't seen this ferocious fast bowling since the days of Courtney & Curtly and Wasim, Waqar and Shoaib and White Lightning and Lee and Bond.What ever the case be Johnson is a totally different bowler ever since his second spell of the Brisbane Test against the English. The consistency is Admirable and focus single minded. Seems like Lehman has figured out what works pretty quickly. I am not sure why SA is not playing Marchant de Lange. Probably his radar is out of Sync? is he another Shaun Tait? And for all of cricket fans, Even SA batsmen raised on never ending supply of fast bowling don't like to play fast bowling and don't have the technique to play fast bowling.

  • on February 15, 2014, 18:18 GMT

    Johnson is unplayable right now and I don't see SA scoring more than 250. The Aus vulnerability is their batting. Scoring 400 after being 100 for 4 against Steyn, Philander and Morkel is where they lost this game. Their bowler has to step up and cannot allow Aus to score more than 200.

  • on February 15, 2014, 18:16 GMT

    South Africa are worse than England as they are playing at home...not like England who were away in the recent Ashes series in Australia

  • TheCricketEmpireStrikesBack on February 15, 2014, 17:58 GMT

    SA have been a top quality side for some years and have too many top drawer players not to come back hard after a defeat and the Aussies know this. It all adds some extra spice to the next match in an already riveting series.

    Interesting days unquestionably.

  • on February 15, 2014, 17:54 GMT

    Plot Twist: Kallis comes back to get a few more Test Hundreds under his belt.

  • on February 15, 2014, 17:44 GMT

    well hats off to johnson...such a lethal bowler....reminds me the days of waqar..he was the toe breaker and mitch is jaw breaker.. South Afriicans should make a plan to face him

  • on February 15, 2014, 17:42 GMT

    I'm sure this coming ipl Johnson will be the most deadly spearhead than steyn

  • on February 15, 2014, 17:32 GMT

    I'm afraid the writing is on the wall for South Africa-what can this team do to counter Johnson? Nothing, just as England found out. Steyn cannot match Johnson on current form. South Afica has only 2 world class batsmen-AB and Amla and Amla is losing confidence by the day. Smith's best days are behind him and the rest are pretenders. Vernon is good but not against the firepower of Australia. I see a 3-0 whitewash unless weather intervenes. What can help a bit is dropping Petersen for de Kock and give de Kock the wicketkeeper role. AB to be freed up to bat.

  • on February 15, 2014, 17:25 GMT

    Australia is back on the hunt

  • on February 15, 2014, 17:25 GMT

    He is bowling some hot stuff right now. Can't really imagine what it must have been like without helmets!

    I think the problem for the SA bats, going forward, is that the only way to get used to this is by playing it. The big problem is, Smith, Alviro, Amla and Faf still haven't had that much of a look at it as yet, which may make it a little difficult to formulate a plan to counter it. Anyway, as an Aussie fan I'll be enjoying it while it lasts, right now Johnson has the best directed bouncer we've seen in a very long time and he is sharing it around quite nicely!

  • on February 15, 2014, 17:24 GMT

    I imagine that this has become Smith's last series. I do hope he and the team can fight back in characteristic fashion but I think too many frailties have been exposed. I think Elgar and Parnell should come in, and I'd be inclined to give Tahir another go. Don't expose de Kock to Johnson in this series. It could break his career before it's started.

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  • on February 15, 2014, 17:24 GMT

    I imagine that this has become Smith's last series. I do hope he and the team can fight back in characteristic fashion but I think too many frailties have been exposed. I think Elgar and Parnell should come in, and I'd be inclined to give Tahir another go. Don't expose de Kock to Johnson in this series. It could break his career before it's started.

  • on February 15, 2014, 17:25 GMT

    He is bowling some hot stuff right now. Can't really imagine what it must have been like without helmets!

    I think the problem for the SA bats, going forward, is that the only way to get used to this is by playing it. The big problem is, Smith, Alviro, Amla and Faf still haven't had that much of a look at it as yet, which may make it a little difficult to formulate a plan to counter it. Anyway, as an Aussie fan I'll be enjoying it while it lasts, right now Johnson has the best directed bouncer we've seen in a very long time and he is sharing it around quite nicely!

  • on February 15, 2014, 17:25 GMT

    Australia is back on the hunt

  • on February 15, 2014, 17:32 GMT

    I'm afraid the writing is on the wall for South Africa-what can this team do to counter Johnson? Nothing, just as England found out. Steyn cannot match Johnson on current form. South Afica has only 2 world class batsmen-AB and Amla and Amla is losing confidence by the day. Smith's best days are behind him and the rest are pretenders. Vernon is good but not against the firepower of Australia. I see a 3-0 whitewash unless weather intervenes. What can help a bit is dropping Petersen for de Kock and give de Kock the wicketkeeper role. AB to be freed up to bat.

  • on February 15, 2014, 17:42 GMT

    I'm sure this coming ipl Johnson will be the most deadly spearhead than steyn

  • on February 15, 2014, 17:44 GMT

    well hats off to johnson...such a lethal bowler....reminds me the days of waqar..he was the toe breaker and mitch is jaw breaker.. South Afriicans should make a plan to face him

  • on February 15, 2014, 17:54 GMT

    Plot Twist: Kallis comes back to get a few more Test Hundreds under his belt.

  • TheCricketEmpireStrikesBack on February 15, 2014, 17:58 GMT

    SA have been a top quality side for some years and have too many top drawer players not to come back hard after a defeat and the Aussies know this. It all adds some extra spice to the next match in an already riveting series.

    Interesting days unquestionably.

  • on February 15, 2014, 18:16 GMT

    South Africa are worse than England as they are playing at home...not like England who were away in the recent Ashes series in Australia

  • on February 15, 2014, 18:18 GMT

    Johnson is unplayable right now and I don't see SA scoring more than 250. The Aus vulnerability is their batting. Scoring 400 after being 100 for 4 against Steyn, Philander and Morkel is where they lost this game. Their bowler has to step up and cannot allow Aus to score more than 200.