South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Port Elizabeth, 1st day

Elgar shines but Australia hold the edge

The Report by Andrew McGlashan

February 20, 2014

Comments: 256 | Text size: A | A

South Africa 214 for 5 (de Villiers 51*, Duminy 2*) v Australia
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Video report - Port Elizabeth not a Mitch Pitch

The opening day at St George's Park was less traumatic for South Africa than the four in Centurion as Dean Elgar shone on his return to the side, but loose strokes in the evening session left them vulnerable. They avoided the sort of performance that could have handed the series to Australia on a plate - and which threatening to develop during a rough first half an hour - only to slip as the light faded on an overcast day to close on 214 for 5.

A third-wicket stand of 112 between Elgar and Faf du Plessis provided the cornerstone of the innings. However they will rue the strokes played by Elgar who, having fought for nearly five hours and 193 balls, tried to clear the in-field against Nathan Lyon and then debutant Quinton de Kock who became the latest batsman to fall to a Steven Smith full toss. AB de Villiers, the only batsman to counter Australia in the first Test, remained unbeaten 51 as he made it a world record of 12 consecutive Tests with at least a half century.

South Africa have lengthened their batting order for this Test - Elgar was in line for a recall and de Kock was called in when Alviro Petersen was ruled out ill - so they still have the chance to post something around 350 and challenge Australia with scoreboard pressure which has been rare in the last few months.

The opening exchanges did not bode well for South Africa. The lead-up to the toss was chaotic with uncertainty over Vernon Philander's fitness to go alongside the three team changes. Some hasty scribbling eventually put Philander on the team-sheet, but it was perhaps no surprise that Graeme Smith departed early when he played around a full, swinging delivery from the probing Ryan Harris on a muggy morning.

In the next over, from Mitchell Johnson, Hashim Amla was firstly beaten by a ball that swung in from outside off and then trapped lbw by another delivery that did the same but had been pitched straighter. It gave Johnson his 50th Test wicket since the beginning of the Ashes and few would have bet against him quickly adding No. 51, but that is not how the day unfolded.

Smart Stats

  • AB de Villiers completed 7000 Test runs during his innings. He is playing his 151st Test innings and is the second-fastest South Africa batsman after Graeme Smith to reach the landmark. Smith took 148 innings. Including De Villiers, only four South Africa batsmen have scored 7000 or more Test runs. Click here for a list of batsmen fastest to 7000 Test runs.
  • De Villiers has now scored fifty or more runs in 12 consecutive Tests for South Africa. This is the longest such consecutive sequence by a batsman in Tests. Viv Richards, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag held this record previously, having scored fifty-plus in 11 consecutive Tests.
  • Dean Elgar's 83 was his second fifty-plus score in Tests and his first fifty against Australia. Elgar, who bagged a pair on debut against Australia at the WACA in 2012-13, is playing his second Test against them. Elgar scored his maiden Test century also at this venue, against New Zealand in 2012-13, and has now scored 186 runs from two innings at this venue.
  • South Africa's batsmen were made to toil hard for their runs by Australia's bowlers. The partnership between Elgar and De Villiers scored at 2.20 an over. This is the fifth-slowest fifty-plus run stand at this venue and the slowest to come in the first innings of a Test here.
  • This was also only the second time when South Africa's third and fourth wickets added fifty or more in the same innings at this venue. The last such instance came way back in 1948-49, against England.

Elgar was still on nought by the time Smith and Amla departed. On his only previous appearance against Australia, on his debut in Perth, he bagged a pair and it took him 20 deliveries and 43 minutes for him to score his first run against this opposition.

However, during that wait to open his account he had not appeared ruffled. His composure was further evident when he slog-swept Lyon for six to register his first boundary and he later deposited the offspinner straight down the ground. Between those grand shots there was good judgement around off stump, the occasional punchy cover drive, plenty of nudges into the leg side and no little bravery as he was willing to take blows around the body from Johnson.

Nathan Lyon celebrates after dismissing Faf du Plessis for 55, South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Port Elizabeth, 1st day, February 20, 2014
Nathan Lyon again picked up valuable wickets when life was tougher for the quick bowlers © AFP

There was also the occasional edge - when he was 15 a combination of soft hands and the slow pitch meant a nick fell short of Brad Haddin - but, by and large, he was in control as he brought up a 112-ball half-century.

Du Plessis played equally impressively and it was he who eased the early shackles imposed by Australia's bowlers with a brace of cover drives off Peter Siddle. He, too, used his feet against Lyon and shortly after lunch clipped him over deep midwicket for six.

Two boundaries in three balls against Johnson, the second a well-controlled pull, took him to his fifty from 117 balls but he fell moments later to the curse of the drinks break when he prodded forward against Lyon and popped a catch to short leg. A soft dismissal which emphasised the absence of the ruthlessness with the bat that characterised South Africa's rise to No. 1

However, it had been a rare occasion of Australia having to work for a wicket: this was only the second century stand they have conceded since the beginning of the Ashes. The other belonged to Kevin Pietersen and Joe Root during the second innings in Adelaide. Their bowling rarely wavered and Johnson remained a threat despite the slowness of the pitch.

Without Shane Watson's medium pace, the value of Lyon in keeping the scoring rate down and chipping key wickets was priceless for Michael Clarke. He continued to use Harris and Johnson in short spells, and both were primed for late bursts before the light closed in. Moments earlier Smith had done his job when, in a first over the largely consisted of long hops and full tosses, de Kock came down the pitch to a one that did not land and heaved an ugly mow to mid-off.

De Villiers reached his half-century from 124 balls - an indication of how hard the batsmen were made to work - when he pulled another half-tracker from Smith. That was enough for Clarke who, when told he could not use his quicks, was content to leave the field. South Africa know what will hit them in the morning.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by KabsCricki on (February 21, 2014, 11:35 GMT)

Unfortunately a draw is most likeliest outcome. 3 of the 5 wickets to fall were give aways by S.A so that leaves 2 wickets in a day and a half. Tough bowling track, for BOTH teams. The inevitable acceleration might bring wickets later on but S.A have to be looking for 500/550 by days end, anything less will not be good enough to try force a win.

Posted by sundersingh on (February 21, 2014, 11:01 GMT)

really ICC should impose a rule : Nobody is having any say in preparation of pitch. either home team r the other.. if that is the case the home team will not be allowed to change 'MID SERIES' and it should be monitored by ICC..

Posted by KabsCricki on (February 21, 2014, 10:59 GMT)

TheBigBoodha , tell me which was the last test played in `PE and what was the result? Have you ever watched one out here in PE? Yet you rant on and on like you know whats up. A pitch cannot be doctored in only 4 days, takes weeks of prep. India has the conditions for the flat track due to weather. have they ever changed that?

Posted by   on (February 21, 2014, 10:53 GMT)

Saffas must be watching a different game. Why are they so happy? They must have seen how slow the surface is and how all bowlers are going to be pushed hard for very little reward. Don't know how they think Steyn and Philander will work miracles when Harris and Johnson have shown how tough it is. Going to require divine intervention to get a result here. Do the maths - at this rate they will most likely bat until late afternoon and put the Aussies in for a crack, then it will be three days to take the opposing 20 wickets when only five have fallen in the day and a half thus far. Summary of the next three days - both the Saffas and the Aussies chase leather, hard toil for very little reward, draw is declared, the Aussie flawless record in SA is preserved and the #1 team playing at home comes up short one more time.

Posted by sundersingh on (February 21, 2014, 10:45 GMT)

First time i am seeing that the home team is playing without their principle advantage ( SA fast bowling tracks)..... I wonder what smith would have told the curator... If the pitch is as it was three days ago,then SA will play their 2nd innings now...

Posted by   on (February 21, 2014, 10:44 GMT)

@ xtrafalgarx. Seriously mate you clearly dont watch a lot of cricket. Steyn has been piling wickets non stop for years. I get so irritated when people jump the gun and comment too soon. If you dont know by now that cricket is a funny game, that is unpredictable and sways like a pendulum, then you cant say you truly know the game at all. Give the proteas a chance. They ARE the best and for good reason. Go boys!!

Posted by legfinedeep on (February 21, 2014, 10:37 GMT)

Excuse me, but are there some Indians on this thread complaining about dull and lifeless pitches? Really?...I mean....REALLY???

Posted by   on (February 21, 2014, 10:37 GMT)

@xtrafalgarx - He wont be here in 5 years time he'll be almost 40. Hope you can live without hands seeing "that you will eat" them if Steyn bowls well. Big comment continue from a country that has been in form for about 2 months out of 6 years

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (February 21, 2014, 10:35 GMT)

@Soviet: At least Subcontonental pitches turn. This doesn't turn, seam, swing or bounce. Rubbish.

@Vlies: Accuse? It's true, the curator made it clear he had to wait for 'instructions' from Smith's men, cowardice.

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 21, 2014, 10:35 GMT)

@JimmySA Actually I've been saying it since before the first wicket fell. Oh well, at least I put money on AB to get the most runs for SA. No chance of him getting out on this pitch.

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (February 21, 2014, 10:33 GMT)

Wow, not one slips catch in a day and a half of cricket. Has this ever occurred before again st a world class bowling attack with two bowlers who can rev it up to 150 plus? Lots of edges, no carry. And we are supposed to beleive that his is some kind of coincidence? That when Smith went to the curator ( as admitted) he didn't tell him to kill the track? After getting humiliated by pace bowling the game before? Yeah, like its just a coincidence. Its's always like this here! If its always like this then how the hell do you ever get a result at this ground when pace bowlers are basically emasculated and the slips rendered useless? Personally, I will join the chorus of whinging Aussies. I think we are just getting sick of opposition teams shamelessly doing this kind of stuff. It's happening every away series now.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2014, 10:32 GMT)

Great stuff by South Africa here. We can bowl out Aussies cheaply

Posted by goutamaniad on (February 21, 2014, 10:29 GMT)

This here goes out to Greatest_Game n TommyTucker_SA's cognizance only...

Psst, let these Aussies be... it's plain obvious how people can be when recovering from a recent away Test record of lessee... 8 nothing, over the last 12 months, of the object of their adoration.

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

I don't think the pitch is a road at all, this is the way SA play, similar to England scoring at 2 and a half an over. It is a very slow pitch though. Credit to them they have some runs but this run rate will require two superb bowling innings and they did not pick a specialist spinner.

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

@AnthonyMD, that's because we all knew it was going to be slow but it's not possible to tell that the pitch is an absolute pudding before 5 overs have been played.

Posted by legfinedeep on (February 21, 2014, 10:17 GMT)

xtrafalgarx: Steyn has a protracted and consistent record of proving he can deliver in all conditions. He is not a one-trick pony. Not saying that MJ is one. He just has to deliver in all conditions consistently over a period of a 4-5 years of being the frontline fast bowler of the world. Then we will all bow before him being greater than Steyn.

Posted by Diaz54 on (February 21, 2014, 10:16 GMT)

Lot of comments from non cricketers on this forum...or guys who never played.,it not always condition of wickets which determines how one plays.....there is also pressure of batting when opposition have set a large total.

I still think decision by Smith in the last test match was a big mistake as it have best conditions to opposition,,they piled up,lot of runs and SA were always chasing the game. Here at least Smith got it right,but got out playing a bad shot! This can happen.,I a sure Aussies wil bat well given there mental form....however few loose wickets and who knows

Posted by disco_bob on (February 21, 2014, 10:16 GMT)

If Australia can bat for two days and draw then we have to agree that this is a crap pitch for the no. 1 and two teams to be playing on, but still advantage Australia. If SA can bowl us out twice to win then they deserve to be no. 1.

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (February 21, 2014, 10:07 GMT)

@Albie Hanekom: That's laughable. The thing about MJ is that people think that when he is in 'form' that he HAS to get 10fers every game. He has bowled well enough here, this is as flat as it gets this pitch and it typifies the Saffa's lack of self belief in their own team that they couldn't face up on a sporting pitch. Just because he doesn't take 10 wickets in a game doesn't mean he is out of form. I know you want him to sray the ball again, but i would think again because he will be there in 5 years.

Steyn has been out of form for a bout a year and a half. His reputation goes before him these days, he hasn't done anything of note for donkeys years, but because of his record he still has some respect though he is well past his best.

Posted by soviet-cricket on (February 21, 2014, 9:58 GMT)

The pitch is subcontinental and world class MJ is back to himself.

Posted by Vleis on (February 21, 2014, 9:56 GMT)

I'm laughing at the Aussie whingers on this blog. They rabbit on about having the better attack overall because they have a better spinner, but then weep uncontrollably when they get a spinners wicket? Furthermore, they accuse SA of doctoring the pitch without first researching the history. The test results since 2000 at PE are: In 2001 SA drew with India. In 2005, SA lost to England! In 2007, SA lost to Pakistan!! In 2007, SA lost to West Indies!!! In 2013, SA beat a mentally shot NZ team. So, SA has only one one test in 13 years (as the nature of the pitch is unfamiliar)...and yet the Aussie are still complaining!! One thing is certain, this Aussie team is # 2 in test cricket, but comfortably # 1 at crying.

Posted by Forza_Scuderia on (February 21, 2014, 9:56 GMT)

Some South African fans in denial. This pitch is as DEAD as they come... Will have to wait and see how lord Steyn goes about his business on this one but I don't see him doing much to be honest.

Chances have been created but there is so little life that the slips are redundant.

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (February 21, 2014, 9:50 GMT)

@wanawatu: You might think it's looking good for SA at the moment with AB closing in on a 100 and Duminy scoring his first decent runs in 100 years but this poor cricket i reckon. I think AB's batting is being overhyped because the Aussies have bowled well to him all series, all you need to do is get your head down on this pitch and the opposition would be lucky to get you out.

I will bite my hand off if Steyn runs through the Aussies on this wicket, at his pace, he will be cannon fodder. AUS to bat for two days, draw.

Posted by AnthonyMD on (February 21, 2014, 9:40 GMT)

Excrutiating viewing, nothing in it for the bowlers and apparently not much in it for the batsmen either, if the run rate is anything to go by. Questions need to be asked when the slip cordon is made redundant due to the lack of life in the pitch. Kudos to Michael Clarke for his innovative field placings, AB looks pretty good, nonetheless I am going to watch a movie and tune in later on.

Posted by JimmySA on (February 21, 2014, 9:39 GMT)

It really amazes me how all the comments about the pitch being slow only comes after lunch or at the end of the days play. Never when SA were 11-2. How did those 2 wickets come about? Really, poor excuse!!! Bowlers should adapt to different pitch conditions and work a way to get a batsman out, not just really on fast pitches and be a hometown bully.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2014, 9:38 GMT)

xtrafalgarx - acceleration started difficult to score quick here. But I thought you said the pitch doesnt matter so why are we still batting then?? Unfortunately they didn't post my previous comment saying that Johnson has the spraygun out again today and the inevitable slump of his is just around the corner. Also for those who said the pitch doesnt matter to him look again he is only as dangerous as the pitch allows him to be. Thats why he can only dream of being a great like Steyn who has blown the world away on any surface any place in the world

Posted by AltafPatel on (February 21, 2014, 9:37 GMT)

Where is the furious, super-fast MJ ! AB and company making him dance like other MJ (Michael Jackson).

Posted by Forza_Scuderia on (February 21, 2014, 9:37 GMT)

Ah, finally some action...

Posted by   on (February 21, 2014, 9:31 GMT)

This pitch is a road

Posted by wanatawu on (February 21, 2014, 9:29 GMT)

People PE is always a slow almost sub continental pitch, therefore teams like Pakistan, India have won there before. I think this wicket just shows that Johnson is a one trick pony, you will see what Steyn does on this flat track.

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (February 21, 2014, 9:25 GMT)

Not really sure what's going on here. The Saffas are scoring so slowly, that even if they do get to 350+, it will takr them so long that it won't matter. This pitch is as flat as it gets but they are going at 2.5 an over, don't really see what they are doing. How can you play for a draw right from the start?

The only way SA can win is if their bowlers pull of a miracle twice, and it's unlikely on this pitch.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2014, 9:24 GMT)

overhyped Mj have nothing except short bowl with quick bouncer.Mj please show us some reverse swing in flat track.Best baller tag cnt be achieved by 1/2 series.Steyn shown his accuracy in sub-continent and proved why he had been best.would u forgot steyn's 69/7 in nagpur?

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 21, 2014, 9:24 GMT)

Well it might not be a draw if Aus keep bowling legside trash.

Posted by KabsCricki on (February 21, 2014, 9:21 GMT)

If SA go on to make 500 by eod, then it would actually be a good situation with three days left. They just need to accelerate abit to get there. AB needs to get a ton and JP and half ton and then we will see some expansive cricket. Already wickets have fallen to rash shots so we playing correctly I reckon

Posted by thectexperience on (February 21, 2014, 9:09 GMT)

Terrible conditions. Draw. See you all for Test 3

Posted by Forza_Scuderia on (February 21, 2014, 9:08 GMT)

Time to get Lyon in the attack... Absolutely nothing in it for the quicks and SA aren't even making an attempt to score at a decent click. This test match is nothing but a let down thus far.

Posted by Digimont on (February 21, 2014, 8:59 GMT)

I've been reading all the comments about whether this pitch is doctored or not. It seems to depend purely on where you are from as to what opinion you hold. What I would like to ask though...if this pitch is the norm for this ground, why hasn't it been dug up and relaid? It has got to be the most lifeless featherbed I've ever seen produced for a test match. It is no good for either batting or bowling. I guess in that way it is even, but that doesn't make it good.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2014, 8:58 GMT)

what boring cricket. SA preparing a pitch like this with supposedly the best pace attack in the world shows how scared they really are. Their is nothing in it for the bowlers and they are taking the indian approach of a draw is better then a loss. No wonder they get about 12 people at the ground to watch.

Posted by ZCFOutkast on (February 21, 2014, 8:52 GMT)

Is this how the Proteas want to play their cricket against the big boys? Going along at a snail's pace in survival mode? After this cowardly pitch no doubt commissioned by Smith, one would've expected them to pile on the runs after winning the toss. AUS didn't crawl along in Adelaide 2012 did they? Smith and his boys have their tails between their legs for sure. Clearly lost all desire to fight and merely looking to see out the series. Damage control. My heart goes out to the PE fans&those who made plans to make a trip down there this weekend. If any entertainment is to be had from the middle, it will have to be the Aussies who oblige. Barring that, they would be wise to defer them to when lesser foes are on our shores & the Proteas can look "mighty" again.

Hudson&Smith must think we are fools and we don't know precisely what's happening here isn't it? By picking de Kock & not giving him the gloves, they are simply trying to cover the fact that Thami Tsolekile was snubbed once again!!

Posted by please_concentrate on (February 21, 2014, 8:24 GMT)

@OzCricketWriter - so you obviously dont agree with your own captain about pitches then - "I think it's a big part our game that the captain, especially, can communicate with the groundsman in his home country and produce the wicket that is best suited to their team."

Posted by Snambidi on (February 21, 2014, 8:22 GMT)

When someone reads this postings, I am certain to be labelled as a selfish . Yes I am selfish for thesakeof my Motherland. If australia wins here the second Test against SA,they would come up in the ICCRankings & push India down to third place. Mr Dhoni with much efforts has maintained 2 nd Rank in all versions until now. There is still room for India to improve upon the Performance to either retain the present rankings or advance with better performance in the Asia Cup& England Tour. But is Australia win against SAevery hope would go down in the drain.the Dreams of India would be shattered This should not happen. Yes Iamselfish..Let my selfishness prevails because I lovely Mothetland somuc. Loving Motherlandis a virtue& never a sin. So let me pray for the win by SA in this Test match

Posted by legfinedeep on (February 21, 2014, 8:16 GMT)

If SA doctored the St Georges pitch, which has always historically been low and slow, then it is fair to say that every home team in every test match has doctored their pitch. Even more miraculous is how India managed to doctor the pitch in the first test of the last series against SA - now that was a typical subcontinental pitch not suited to Steyn & Co. If SA did not prepare a a green mamba for green-track pansies India, then why on earth will they prepare one for Aust? SA is not there to gift MJ wickets, let him earn it on non-helpful pitches as well. Poor Aussies are just too bitter that SA have not gifted him helpful conditions (never mind that he did bowl through some nice humid and overcast conditions). Anyway, to placate Aussie sentiment, I will say that in the absence of Kallis (and god how I wish we had the immovable, unflappable Kallis walking out to face MJ in the first test) and with Amla's loss of form after becoming a dad - that Aust is the better side right now.

Posted by GRHinPorts on (February 21, 2014, 8:13 GMT)

Twice in the report above it makes reference to Steve Smith defeating with De Kock with a full toss but while the legspinner bowled quite a bit of rubbish the ball he took the wicket with was landed perfectly. When this happened live I only caught a quick glimpse and had to go and check the replays but its definitely a well pitched legspinner which beats De Kock in the flight.

Posted by disco_bob on (February 21, 2014, 8:07 GMT)

@Ozcricketwriter, you are falling for the old 'Adelaide is going to be a nailed on draw' routine after one day, even though it's almost always a result pitch. PE is also a result pitch, and I think we will certainly have a result. Centurion was a high octane win, this will be a low octane win.

Posted by disco_bob on (February 21, 2014, 8:04 GMT)

@cricketjudger23, Yup we were all over SA at the Gabba, but we didn't win because it rained, not because we fell apart, at Adelaide, our spearhead at the time broke down and we were a strike bowler short, these things happen. And credit where it's due, Faf played one of the greatest stonewalls of all time to hold out for the draw. Better to focus on the unpalatable fact that SA have not been able to win a series against us in their own backyard for almost a million years.

Posted by Neutralist01 on (February 21, 2014, 7:58 GMT)

I don't understand all the furor over the pitch, home teams have the right to play whatever pitch they like, end of story. You bitter aussies are laughable, get a grip. Bowlers who work hard and remain consistent on this pitch get results, Bichel,Bond, Steyn, Anderson,Lee, Pollock etc have all had fantastic returns on this exact pitch.. If Johnson is all he's been hyped to be, he shouldn't be having any problems..or is he only able to perform on green tops?!

Posted by Cready on (February 21, 2014, 7:56 GMT)

I don't think SA will make 300, I hope the do, but I doubt they will. Duminy's batting has been very weak of late and chances are Parnell and Philander will maybe get another 20 each at best. If Steyn and Philander hits their groove though and Parny with the left arm combination with Morkel as support, perhaps Oz will have trouble. Duminy is a fair spin option as well on this wicket, but they must use him conservatively. But all respect to this Oz team, they are a bunch of really fantastic players. Yes if one compares player vs. player based on averages and stats, SA is better, but basically all the Oz players are on form, whereas SA has Smith, Amla and Duminy very much out of form and the rest certainly not at the best currently. May the best team win and please may that be SA :-)

Posted by   on (February 21, 2014, 7:53 GMT)

I just want to apologise publicly for saying in earlier comments that it woulld be "a huge mistake" to play Dean Elgar. He stood up well and it is a pity he threw his wicket away with a nervous stroke. Perhaps the idea of a centuary played on his mind. About the state of the pitch and the fact that big-name bowlers got "5 or 6 fors" there in the past: The pitch has always been the same in PE. They did it because they bent their backs. That is what Steyn and co will have to do too. By the way, Hugh Tayfield once (in 1957, if my mind serves me right) got a "6 for" in the second innings against England at a "sand pit in PE with his "offies" to win the match and square the series! So nothing in test cricket is new and everything possible!

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 21, 2014, 7:50 GMT)

@cricketjudger23 We didn't win a test in the last one though, bit different this time around. Either way I wouldn't want to be a fast bowler on this PE pitch.

Posted by disco_bob on (February 21, 2014, 7:28 GMT)

@ Int.Curator, I also feel that unless Australia have a dramatic collapse that SA will play for the draw, which I find puzzling because this is a match they absolutely have to win to have any hope at all for breaking the hoodoo of winning a series against Australia at home for some 40 odd years.

Posted by cricketjudger23 on (February 21, 2014, 7:22 GMT)

These aussies go on about how well they did in the first test!! They forget the fact that they were all over the south africans in the last test series and fell to pieces in the last test, can happen again, dont write this team off.....

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (February 21, 2014, 7:21 GMT)

With regards to the pitch, I have said this many times but I will repeat it here. The ICC should step in every time that there is pitch doctoring. We see it a lot when home sides are afraid that they will lose. As Greatest_Game admits, they doctor it to favour the opposition when the opposition is especially weak. Centurion certainly was not doctored and I would like to commend the South African curators for leaving it as is. I would have been very impressed if they had done the same thing at St George's Park. The pitch being doctored in this case was not done to try to give South Africa a better chance of winning but just to try to force a draw. This is shameful. I didn't think that South Africa was a country who stooped so low as this. They certainly haven't felt the need for a long time. Fingers crossed that they don't do this for the 3rd test. We may as well pencil in a draw for this match already.

Posted by Forza_Scuderia on (February 21, 2014, 7:17 GMT)

The Australian batsmen are going to have to apply themselves on this pitch. This is not in their nature as they like to play aggressive cricket...

All in all I think Australia are on top at the moment, if only slightly. An early wicket and the tail is exposed to a new ball. On the other hand if AB and JP stick around it could turn into a day of hard labour for the Aussies.

Posted by yuvi_gladiator on (February 21, 2014, 7:15 GMT)

SA what have you done. doctor to make a slow, low wicket and then don't have a spinner to take the advantage. I see only two results from here unless steyn gets it right

Posted by Cantbowlcantbat on (February 21, 2014, 7:13 GMT)

Lost of Saffers getting excited that MJ didn't knock them over for zip. Still, 5/214 at 2.5 an over is hardly dominating the Oz attack! I thought you guys were the best in the world????

Posted by disco_bob on (February 21, 2014, 6:59 GMT)

I like the fact that this pitch is so different from Centurion. The reason that the Aussie team has been doing so well under Lehmann and McDermott is that we can bowl as a unit for long long periods without letting up the pressure. It's fantastic to see the bowlers tested this way. I think we will win this test as comprehensively as Centurion perhaps not as excitingly but certainly as satisfying. I doubt that the SA unit will be able to maintain a tight line without any release for the whole match.

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 21, 2014, 6:57 GMT)

To the emotional Saffas bagging out Australia at the moment: I, and most of my countrymen, never realistically expected Australia to win this series, most of us were hoping for a contest but not necessarily expecting it. Personally, I was more interested in how our batting went than whether we won or lost. We went through a long period where we unequivocally supported the best team in the world. That is no longer the case, and we damn well realise it, especially after a few years in the relative wilderness. We came to terms with that and now we're taking what we can get. Unfortunately you guys don't yet seem to realise that even if not today, one day your team will fall. Best not to shout from the rooftops when you're 1-0 down in a series and only 1 day into the second test of a 3 test series from my experience.

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (February 21, 2014, 6:50 GMT)

Disappointed with the pitch on offer. Didn't expect no.1 team to go on def. so quickly and roll out a pitch that is normal in sub cont.- low/slow docile in its nature. All of us were keen to see both these pace lineups get ball flying on the famed SA bouncy pitches.Alas we get something diff.The S Africans know that -as good a pace attack they have,except Pilander- they are no match for this Aus pace attack.They also were not going to lay out a green carpet to the fastest in the world after last game,were they? Had a chance for the no.1 side to show positive intent by putting a 'normal' SA pitch. Chose to be safe instead.But Aus have Lyon- got something from the track.SA dropped their main spinner Rob P and played into opp's. hands. But with a Mitch around SA won't feel safe as he's 1 who has/can change the game in just 1 dest. spell never mind how pitch is playing. If the young Aus bats show same kind of app. and play on merit they will post a big score.And Clarke's due for big un !

Posted by dunger.bob on (February 21, 2014, 6:39 GMT)

When it comes our turn to bat my nerves will be jangling. I'm worried about Doolan & Marsh in particular but all our batting in general. Marsh has batted well in Sri Lanka in the past and from the sounds of it this pitch is a bit sub-continental in nature. I've no doubt he's got all the technical know how to do a good job but, as always with Marsh, it depends where his head is whether it works out that way or not. With Doolan, I have no idea how he'll cope. Hobart isn't much like this and I don't think his record is that great in Adelaide which is the closest we'd have to PE. His ability on low, slow pitches is completely unknown to me.

I think we need to keep SA as close to 300 as we can. As others have mentioned it seems the sort of deck thats OK once you get in but not one you can score too quickly on. If we can match whatever SA end up with it's likely to take a while so I think someone will have to do something brilliant for either side to force a result here. We'll see how we go

Posted by teo. on (February 21, 2014, 6:37 GMT)

PE has always been a slow wicket @iceman29. Any suggestion that this was "made" to neatrilize Aus is unjustified. Remembering that SA have come in with 4 quicks also. Aus are certainly a team on fire... but time will tell if they will be #1. We have seen over many years now, this is not an easy SA team to beat! Just wish Kallis would have retired after this series rather :)

Posted by Int.Curator on (February 21, 2014, 6:29 GMT)

Great Competitive Cricket.

SA are playing for a draw first win second.

Australia play for win first draw second.

This is why Australia are considered best team at moment.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on (February 21, 2014, 6:28 GMT)

@greatest-game, sounds like the only one whinging here is you with post after post of drivel. Afghanistan winning against the Australian under 19's is all you've got to declare the end of Australian cricket? Afghanistan have achieved a lot of good things and are a really promising associate country, it's good for the game. In current news we just whitewashed England and are in the way to doing the same to SA. Any questions?

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 21, 2014, 6:28 GMT)

@JimmySA You did see that the SA batsmen nicked quite a lot of balls, they just looked innocuous because there's no carry off the pitch. Even if Philander can nip a ball away there's no guarantee he's going to get a wicket if it gets nicked, same thing if Steyn can get it to swing. The most likely way to get someone out would be lbw but there's no Watson there to be an easy target, or a guy like Warner who will most likely get himself out in the first 10 balls he faces. The rest are going to be a drawn out battle whether you're mediocre or legendary. I don't think any of SA's pacemen are looking forward to bowling on this pitch, and I do rate them highly as a unit. Unlike your good self they're probably a bit more realistic.

Posted by mikefm on (February 21, 2014, 6:27 GMT)

To those who accuse SA of doctoring the pitch, learn your facts. PE has always been the lowest and slowest pitch in the country, often to the discomfort of the home team when playing sub-continent teams.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2014, 6:22 GMT)

@Greatest_Game, you ridicule the state of Aussie cricket, but do you see any Aussie fans questioning the selection process of our team lately? No. Yourself, on the other hand, spent most of the first few days of the series complaining about the very same process of your own nation. Those in glass houses, mate. Aus cricket has it's faults, but no more than others and far fewer than some. No we don't rule the cricketing world and very few here talk that kind of trash. I don't really understand why so many saffer fans on here let themselves get baited up so easily. Maybe it's because you've met a good match on the field and you're scared it's all going to come true? Anyways, you enjoy the view from up on the roof of your glass castle.

Posted by Iceman29 on (February 21, 2014, 6:17 GMT)

TommytuckerSaffa wrote Mitch who?..He is the one who destroyed your team single handedly, He is the one who sent one of your player to the hospital, Heis the one who has become the nightmare of SA players...and last but not least he is the one who made your team doctor the pitch.. :P @TheBigBoodha: you are absolutely right about every country has a supporter like him....

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (February 21, 2014, 6:12 GMT)

Agree this is the sort of pitch that will suit someone like Chris Rogers. Can't see Marsh getting past 20 here. Warner might smash the new ball, though. It's always possible with him. And the pace of Morkel and Steyn might just work against them here. It's a Shane Watson kind of track. Just bore them out. Australia bowled pretty well and were very disciplined.

It really is a dead track - I just watched the highlights. ALL the nicks failed to carry to slips. Have not see a pitch like this in SA in my memory. I'm afraid I have to agree with the critics. It merely confirms that there is a deep insecurity in Smith's captaincy. It's a super defensive move. Instead of working on tactics and selecting the right team they have gone for pitch doctoring. It's smacks of desperation. Sorry to be blunt, but I don't see how you can see this any other way.

Posted by Chrispribs on (February 21, 2014, 6:11 GMT)

To all the SA supporters commenting that Austraila's performance was a once off and the MJ is not performing here because of a different pitch....i am a south african and we are by no means winning this test. IF anything Aus were the better team yesterday, their bowling was precise and tight. SA's run rate was always kept at bay and i though MJ did what he was suppose to and pressured the batsmen upfront and took Amla's wicket and held the scoring back. Steyn is great but without him SA is also left open for its not only about Mitchel for Aus, their teamwork yesterday as a bowling unit was greatl. SA need to step up and stop making excuses...whether No.1 for a while or not, anyone can be beaten and this seems the case this series!

PS. If not for AB what would SA do??

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 21, 2014, 6:10 GMT)

@CustomKid Bucky's style will obviously be effective on this type of pitch but I think Clarke and Doolan are probably up to it as well, Doolan plays with soft hands so it's going to be hard for him to get caught behind. Warner is going to get himself out pretty quick smart though, line ball on Marsh, depends if he's going to try and cut the ball as that will be perilous, not sure what Steve Smith will do either obviously. If Bucky and Doolan can work together well to kick the innings off and get through the new ball though 500 shouldn't be out of the question.

Posted by amfas on (February 21, 2014, 6:10 GMT)

@Jabulani. Agreed SA will still be number one, but the important thing to remember will be the diminishing points difference. Only a matter of time old son!! @TommytuckerSaffa Heart ruling the head again? You have got to be joking!! 5 wickets & a run rate of 2.57 in 7 overs short of a full days play. I think any bowling side would be more than happy with that scoreboard after day 1. As for Lyon? 2 wickets and going at a tad over 2 to the over. Stupid comments made by a typically one eyed supporter. I think one of the major differences between Centurion & St Georges is that in the first test the ball carried and catches taken, whereas in PE we have seen quite a few drop just short. The first hour play will be critical for both sides. Wickets for AUS will dent SA's hopes but if AB & JP stick around it could make for interesting viewing.

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 21, 2014, 6:06 GMT)

@novocas7rian When people who don't know Steve Smith's bowling watch him bowl they usually think every ball is a long hop or a full toss. Fact is, 80% of his balls are absolute pies, but the other 20% are absolutely killer deliveries, he rips the ball and gets a lot of drift, dip and turn like a good wrist spinner should, and he can bowl an unplayable ball. Lots of people think that getting out to him is an absolute shocker, but if he bowls 5 overs at you you're liable to score 40 runs but get out to a gem.

I'm really interested to see if anyone is caught at slips in this match. All the nicks weren't even close to carrying and I can only see it getting slower.

Posted by JimmySA on (February 21, 2014, 6:02 GMT)

Never mind the mediocre bowling attack. Its always the pitches fault. haha

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (February 21, 2014, 5:56 GMT)

Tommy tucker, every country seems to have a supporter like you. There's the famous Front Foot Lunge, Cpt Meanster and we have our own Jonesy just to stir the pot.

The pitch is about as green as the Sahara and just as dry. The bounce was so low that not a single snick carried to the slips - and there were plenty. Faf was pulling Johnson off the front foot with the new ball. Just about nywhere else and he would have lost his head. And I wouldn't call restricting a team to 5/214 in one day of cricket to be a bad effort at all. In fact, its pretty damn good.

Anyway, its good to see competitive cricket. Most of us appreciate it.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2014, 5:48 GMT)

once again ABD showed that how good a player he is. 12th consecutive test with at least a 50,wow,an other record at test level. from the last 4 years his avg is 68 runs per inning. 5 more years, and i think he will surpass 12000 test runs, he will be one of the bests of all time. he has every stroke in his book. can play spinners as well as fast bowlers. he showed his class against ajmal, swan and ashwin, now against jhonson and harris. he played very well against anderson and zaheer in the past. he is fantastic to watch. one of our favourite, ABD

Posted by novocas7rian on (February 21, 2014, 5:39 GMT)

As doubledeckerbaas said earlier, de Kock was not out to a full toss. Smith bowled a well-pitched looping legbreak that landed at least a metre in front of the batsman, who had failed to get to the pitch of the ball but still went through with the shot.

Perhaps Andrew McGlashan needs to watch the game a little more closely?

Posted by heathrf1974 on (February 21, 2014, 5:34 GMT)

I think this game is in the balance. The wicket is a bit of a featherbed but is taking good spin. I wonder if SA will regret not picking a specialist spinner. However, the Aussie batsman will need to be patient as the ball is not coming onto the bat. Expect to see a few catches in this match.

Posted by Iceman29 on (February 21, 2014, 5:19 GMT)

Can someone explain to me if this slow pitch was deliberately made to neutralize the Aussie attack?

Posted by stevehobart1 on (February 21, 2014, 5:10 GMT)

The list of fastest batsmen to 7000 runs certainly demonstrates the gap between Bradman and the next best. He scored 6996 runs in only 80 innings, in an era where bowlers dominated much moreso.

Posted by Practical_person on (February 21, 2014, 4:54 GMT)

I think Australians are definitely proving that they are number one team and the team to beat. I don't believe they are outright no1 like Ponting or Steve Waugh's team but better than other teams. Love the fighting spirit! Only Aussies can bounce back like this.

Key litmus is to beat subcontinental teams (India, Pak and SL) in their own backyard to be the outright no1 team. I believe that will still be a challenge for the Aussies as they do not have many good players of spin or a quality spinner.

Australians are favourites to win the world cup next year. MJ has certainly created a fear factor. I think batsmen should overcome their mental hurdles if they want to beat Johnson.

Posted by Le_Jeu on (February 21, 2014, 4:27 GMT)

de Kock wasn't out on a Smith full toss. If anything, I thought the ball got held up in the pitch a bit.

Posted by CustomKid on (February 21, 2014, 4:22 GMT)

Pains me to say it but I think the Saffas are going to win this one. It's a slow and low wicket, not great for batting, not great for bowling, unless you're a quality spinner which Australia do possess, however.

The most import ingredient required on this pitch is patience, and when they do get a chance to bat I don't think Australia can bring that patience game to the table. I could be wrong but it has never been a strong suite of theirs. They attack instinctively more often than not its just how they play and in doing so they'll gift wickets away worse than what the Saffas did.

The one man who could prosper on this deck is 'Buck' Rogers, but the rest I'm really worried about with their attacking nature and slowness of the wicket, it makes for a bad mix. I hope I'm wrong but I can see them blowing this one in a big way even if they keep ZA to around 300-350.

Day two shall be very intriguing, I'm interested to see what is up with Vernon and his fitness or lack there of.

Posted by deeplongon on (February 21, 2014, 4:17 GMT)

There was a time I thought Australia, NZ and South Africa were the ONLY countries not to doctor wickets. Alas after yesterday that list has shortened down to two. In fear of the best pace attack in the world the groundsman (after conferring with SMITH and the Saffer's coach) ran the mover over the wicket one last time to remove every iota of pace and bounce. An appalling performance from a once trusted country.

Posted by wapuser on (February 21, 2014, 4:07 GMT)

Well good day for both teams. The Assies have chipped off the SA batting line up which is still nervous from last match's battering. I still maintain that SA are the better side overally but still dont possess the abilit to bully out opponents with the statistics their player hold on paper. The Assies during their reign as world number one managed to ensure that no team would bully them especially in their own backyard. Coming back to this teat match SA needs to show some class and bat very well in this first innings. AB needs to score a big one while the tails gives him support. When Dale, Vern and Morne come, they will prove once again why they are the best attack in te world by

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 21, 2014, 3:25 GMT)

"This is the fifth-slowest fifty-plus run stand at this venue and the slowest to come in the first innings of a Test here."

I know PE is known for being slow and low historically, but even knowing that do you think it usually puffs dust on the first day of the test match normally? You would think the slowest first innings 50+ partnership would involve a couple of grinding batsmen, but it involved AB de Villiers. AB! If you think Steyn is going to magically be super effective here I think you're kidding yourself. Not only that but even if he bowls well if the batsmen leave well and tire him out there's not going to be a lot of sting from the other end with Duminy, Morkel and Philander who are going to have a rough old time bowling on this thing.

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 21, 2014, 3:15 GMT)

@Albie Hanekom Your team is down 1-0 and you're telling us that your team is going to destroy Australia, and I'm the one being smug? How about your arrogance? I'm just stating the facts. The curator said he hasn't watered the pitch since tuesday, but if it's been so hot and dry lately why on earth wouldn't he water the pitch since tuesday? Because he wants it dry and slow and low, that's the only logical answer. Basically what SA are hoping for is for it to reverse swing as the pitch gets dry and chops the ball up, but the outfield is also quite lush so it's going to take a while. Steyn is not going to destroy Australia, he's going to chip away at them. Even if he gets nicks on this pitch they're more likely to bounce short than get caught in slips. Did you see how many nicks carried to Australia's slip cordon? I believe it was NONE. Get it yet? It's going to be hard work for all bowlers. I'm still picking a draw but Aus are going to try and bat just once in this test.

Posted by SHER-A-PANJAB on (February 21, 2014, 3:11 GMT)

I m very happy that Smith Called Elgaar and D.kock in .Elgaar showed he be a good opener and good spinner for SA test squad and ODI ( bowling and batting at no.4/5/6/7. D.kock can handle the pressure later on .....If Smith should have called HENDRICKS in instead of Morkell ,it must have been greatest squad ..... good luck

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (February 21, 2014, 2:45 GMT)

I don't know why we think that Australia are well on top. If South Africa get more than 300 batting first, then they are on top, and 5/214 gives them every chance of getting there. Australia will have to bat last on this pitch, remember. I would say that South Africa are on top, though not by much.

Posted by Jagger on (February 21, 2014, 2:33 GMT)

@ DM1000 - We would settle on most things but Siddle, mate. He was the one reason why Elgar and Faf got in. When a bowler bowls a half volley on leg and it is easily dispatched for 4 runs, twice in first 3 overs, that relieves all the pressure. Check it - he did not add to the pressure as stated, he released it with poor bowling. He then repeated it in his second AND third spells.

Siddle was all at sea having to pitch the ball up. It took him three overs each spell to find a length and by that time the horse had bolted. Had another of our fast bowlers been picked, I defy anyone who says they would go wicketless. All the other "bowlers" took wickets, including a batsman who struggles to land the ball on the pitch.

For future, Lyon (stick man) is lacking in stamina. We need a stronger spinner to take over the role of Siddle (just hold up an end) and bowling 30-40 overs in an innings like Warnie used to do. Three strike men bowling short spells with a durable spinner = winner.

Posted by RJHB on (February 21, 2014, 2:27 GMT)

Gee, 200 runs on day one. Australia did well to get five wickets on this dung heap of a wicket. It seriously looks like a Sri Lankan road, painfully low and slow. If you'd put a subcontinent team on this track you'd have never got them out! It's the sort of track a Jaywardene would make 300 plus, over two and a half days! And SA have gone in with no spinner.......! Expect ALOT of bowling Duminy!! No, unless Australia can manufacture something, cos you know with certainty SA and mr imagination Smith won't, this is a long, slow, drawn out yawn fest.

Posted by Meety on (February 21, 2014, 1:50 GMT)

@Chris_P on (February 20, 2014, 17:56 GMT) - i agree, I can't decide yet if Oz is on top or not until we bat. I believe there will be a lot of pressure on our batsmen as we will need a big lead - as I can't imagine it will be good batting after Day 3. Stumps tomorrow - assuming a full days play, will give a much better view. AB - could easily double the current score with some help from the lower order. Whilst I am not sure SA will get to 300, I really think that a score of that nature will be very competitive. Massive first hour looming on Day 2.

Posted by bybaw on (February 21, 2014, 1:47 GMT)

There seems to be some confusion, some would say intoxication as to the recent success of the Aussie team built arround MJ's form. Having grown up in Port Elizabeth, this (blue collar) strip is as lifeless as it's been for decades. Stats will show that it's not generally a results pitch. Positive outcomes have been achieved as a collective rather than individual brilliance. If your thirst is for blood though, bring on Newlands, teams have been rolled there 47.

Posted by grubberJo on (February 21, 2014, 1:45 GMT)

Looks like the saffers are playing for a draw right from the get go. Big shame, scoring a little over 200 runs in a whole day is wretched and does no good for the sport. Not what paying fans want to see. No wonder no-one shows up to watch cricket in SA anymore.

I know Smith is playing for results but you have to ask this question. Does the game belong to the players or does it belong to the fans. IMO, if the players are amateurs then it belongs to them. But if they are professionals then it belongs to the fans. SA are playing like amateurs and that's why cricket in that country is struggling. Captains like Smith who play not to lose will ultimately fail. This doesn't happen in Aus and that's why we get sellouts because Clarke plays to win. Even if it means losing ugly. I think Aus will still win this game in the end. You'll see them scoring at a rate of at least 3.5 rpo and post a lead of over 100.

Posted by Ozizim on (February 21, 2014, 1:29 GMT)

@Lysnkey - finally some proper use of the English language, really refreshing! As for the test itself, the fightback shown by the Saffers is heartening. I was afraid of another one sided test at 11 for 2.

Posted by Thegimp on (February 21, 2014, 1:21 GMT) say some strange things dude. With a couple of days out from the start of this test the curator was waiting to see what kind of pitch SA wanted. Obviously he had a choice, he could prepare a seamer, or a road. Obviously he was told the second option. I don't know whether it is indemic in SA culture or it's just Smith and this current regime, but I would have thought that being one test down in a three test series SA, being the world's #1 team, would back themselves, would need to back themselves, to win. This is the same as bowling first in the first test and not chasing India's score in that test. There is something wrong in the brains trust in SA cricket.

Posted by Rowayton on (February 21, 2014, 1:14 GMT)

Interesting to see a couple of Australian punters below saying we needed a bowler like Muirhead. That would be the Muirhead who took 0-61 off 7 overs in a Shield game last week and who got dropped by Victoria, would it? Sheesh. Solid day from S. Africa, honours even I reckon. Although I really wonder whether SA picked the right bowlers. Go Chris Rogers, your sort of pitch.

Posted by   on (February 21, 2014, 1:13 GMT)

I don't get these comments saying "more or less even" or "Australia might have their nose in front"

Australia are BOSSING this game. This is a slow but very even pitch where even modest batsmen who apply themselves should be able to tick along at 3.5 an over with little or no concern. The lack of pace makes scoring 4+ a problem maybe.

SA lost 5 wickets making barely 200 in a day! Australia won the 1st and 3rd session, SA just (just) edged the second. Oz a good session ahead with power to add. Whatever advantage SA managed to crawl back in the post lunch session was pretty much negated by the most turgid run rate I've seen for many a year.

Slower than England in India were at their slowest last year!

This is a 550 in a day and a half sort of pitch. SA are miles off the pace in terms of time taken and wickets lost in a game they HAVE to win. They will make less than 320 and lose by several hundred runs.. or an innings.

Posted by Albert_cambell on (February 21, 2014, 0:36 GMT)

Elgar looks much better than Alviro peterson. Please let him open the innings with Smith. I can assure Duminy and Parnell are going to be walking wickets on tomorrow. Hopefully AB and Vernon put up a good partnership and push the Scorecard upto 350.

Posted by LoungeChairCritic on (February 21, 2014, 0:16 GMT)

It was great to see some variety in the South African pitches. Centurion and St Georges are so different. After day 1 I would prefer to be in the Saffer's position. Batting will get harder. Although the Saffer's do not have a true spinner, I do think that their fast bowlers will be able to get some reverse swing and keep it tight later in the match. It will be a test of patience throughout this match because run's will not flow. I think there will be times in the match where both teams could play defensively. As we are 1 nil up I am happy for the Australian's to take some time out of the match. I would love to see our batters to be patient and slowly grind at the Saffers attack minus a true spinner. The Saffers are the one' who need to make the running and win.

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (February 21, 2014, 0:04 GMT)

To all SA fans. Did you really think Quinton De Kock would just come in and take to test cricket like a duck to water? It never works like that. That's why selectors stick with certain players, when someone is out of the team they look 10 times better, but there is a reason why they weren't picked in the first place!

De Kock will probably find his way in Test cricket as time goes on, but there will be many highs and lows before he gets there, he may even have to be dropped before he gets there.

Posted by CM1000 on (February 20, 2014, 23:51 GMT)

@ Gimme-a-greentop - I'm not at all suggesting this is usually a "fast bowlers paradise" - what I am suggesting is that there is normally more in it for fast bowlers than today's pitch. There is slow, and there is dead slow. As I just now read Dean Elgar quoted as saying to reporters after today's play - "This is probably the slowest I have ever seen the pitch at Port Elizabeth". Steyn took 5 for 17 at this ground a year ago. Even if NZ were poor at the time, don't tell me it was as slow as this pitch - no fast bowler in history could take 5 for 17 against a Test playing nation on today's pitch.

Posted by Biggus on (February 20, 2014, 23:47 GMT)

@Lysnkey:- What an eminently sensible comment mate. You must be new here.

Posted by Markus971 on (February 20, 2014, 23:39 GMT)

Bad decision by M.Clarke early on! I'm sure the early double bowling change brought relief to the, still to settle batsman! Yes it was just what the Doctor(Batsman) ordered at that time! Michael Clarke gets a lot of praise for the way He's handled his revitalized star! Way to handle M.Johnson! Not!

Posted by morriarty on (February 20, 2014, 23:31 GMT)

the curator said this pitch had played slow for more than 100 years .He doubted the grass cover would change the fact that this pitch has and probably always would play slow.Both captains wanted to bat first here and true to most first day pitches we saw a few early wickets.This will be a good test and hopefully we will see one team toil away and eeek out the opposition from well planned plays and see batsmen of quality score tons.Those wanting an up and down pitch like the last test will be disappointed .This is more of a test wicket. I dont believe they have doctored the pitch and I also believe the aussies need to win in these conditions to prove they are worthy.Beat the SA on a pitch like this and then you say you have a good team.

I doubt this pitch will make it too much harder on the 5th day so the winning team will need to be dominant rather than just lucky.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (February 20, 2014, 23:27 GMT)

Rather a placid days' play compared to all the hype/anticipation beforehand. Well done to Elgar - must confess to having doubts about him, but he held his own. Will be interesting to see how SA mix up their bowling; no specialist spinner this time and I doubt the likes of Warner will let Duminy settle if he makes it past Steyn/Morkel. Wicket of AB key tomorrow, and Lyon has been doing well so I'm rooting for him to clean up the tail.

Posted by OneEyedAussie on (February 20, 2014, 23:18 GMT)

With the game more or less evenly poised the new-ball will be crucial for Australia tomorrow. If Australia can dismiss SA for sub 300 than they will be ahead of the game provided that they bat sensibly. The SA attack will be new ball dependent.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (February 20, 2014, 23:13 GMT)

Its test cricket and overall a challenging day. I think both teams will be happy and this game could go right down to the wire on the fifth day. Excellent bowling from Australia and disciplined batting from South Africa. All in all this is what test cricket should be.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (February 20, 2014, 22:58 GMT)

@Mervo Posted by Mervo on (February 20, 2014, 20:13 GMT) The turgid wicket shows fear. Fear of what Johnson could do.

No, your ignorance and lack of knowledge of other cricket grounds outside Australia is what's really fearful. PE is and always has been slow and low. Has Mitchy lost his mojo? 32 years old now. Don't worry, lots of tailenders to come.

Posted by Meety on (February 20, 2014, 22:53 GMT)

Credit to SA on their fightback. It was a total strike back, but it was a massive improvement. Not sure if they will get to 350 - the new ball is still new, lots of pressure will be on in the first hour. I think if SA get anywhere near 300, they will be confident that they can win from there. Oz will be as confident in the same situation. Hopefully rain stays away. Special mention to Elgar, thought for sure it was madness to select him as an opener, but he did really well. Lots rest on the pace trio of Steyn & co. Not sure about Parnell being the man - but at least he is left hand for variety.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (February 20, 2014, 22:47 GMT)

I'd like to ask a question of the Aussies here. Did your U19 team lose to Afghanistan because the pitch was terribly doctored, or because they were simply outplayed.

Face it. You are not the best in the world anymore. Your kids are pampered with high performance centers and you can't beat a bunch of guys from a war torn, ravaged country that only started playing cricket one generation ago. Australia are not the best at everything to do with cricket. You were beaten by the Poms & horribly whitewashed by India. Australian cricket had to have the Argus review because it was so bad, bad, bad. Aus thought they were soooo smart hiring Micky Arthur, that he would show them how to beat SA. Why do you think SA fired him? Good question, eh?

You are really not all that good. You might get back there, but it will take a while. In the mean time, don't let 6 back to back victories go to your heads. Remember, they came just after 6 back to back losses. You are, perhaps, back to even! That is it!

Posted by dunger.bob on (February 20, 2014, 22:39 GMT)

A good solid days Test cricket. Runs a bit hard to come by but then again so are wickets. Both sides are getting their heads down and working hard. .. Good stuff.

Posted by disco_bob on (February 20, 2014, 22:30 GMT)

Maybe the pitch could have been juiced up a little but I like it as it is. Pete Sampras will never be considered a great because he was unable to win on low slow clay pitches. Both sides have to play on the pitch and the best team always wins. India prepared slow dustbowls for England but England had the best spinners and blew India away. Even England's shameful pitches that they served up would not have helped them had Lyon been in from the go.

It seems that every single test Australia play it's a continual pitch bitch. If we can't win on this how are we to win in India? Clarke might have some fun on this pitch himself, maybe even do better than his 6/9 against India.

Posted by Jabulani on (February 20, 2014, 22:24 GMT)

@dabbadubba - st georges has always been a slower pitch, unlike the pitches in Aus when SA were last there. Those were deliberately prepared to be slow to neutralise Steyn, Philander and Morkel. Secondly even if SA lost this test series 2-0 Aus would still be no.2.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (February 20, 2014, 22:24 GMT)

Mitch who? So much for the over-hyped Australian bowling attack. On a green, seaming pitch with overcast conditions they have hardly made a dent. SA march on and get stronger by the hour. What was really disappointing was watching Lyon bowling around the wicket, targeting leg stump and on the pads - so negative, very un-Australian. Couldn't help noticing Harris leaving the field with a tweak and Smith was right Centurion totally suited Johnson, but maybe he can get some more tail-ender wickets here yet. Mind you both are in the their mid thirties now anyway and injuries are part of that age category.

Posted by legfinedeep on (February 20, 2014, 22:19 GMT)

@Thomas Libyh on (February 20, 2014, 13:53 GMT) Has there ever been a Cricket team that has underachieved more than South Africa ? >>> Yes, I can think of one - INDIA. Biggest group of backyard bullies to ever grace the game of cricket!

Posted by legfinedeep on (February 20, 2014, 22:08 GMT)

So all the Aussies, complaining about the pitch - are you saying that your Mitch is just a one-type-of-pitch-wonder, and cannot perform consistently across all sorts of pitches? Unlike Dale Steyn, who has great figures over a protracted period of time, even on the subcontinental road pitches? He did not even look remotely threatening for frightening today, even the raw and inexperienced Elgar played him out without giving any chances.

Posted by RandyOZ on (February 20, 2014, 22:05 GMT)

Another doctored pitch. Why is is that everyone does it to us? Maybe because they are terrified of us being the best again!

Posted by MrDravid on (February 20, 2014, 22:01 GMT)

South Africa prepare a slow, low pitch... and they wonder why no one turns up to watch test match cricket?

Posted by chicko1983 on (February 20, 2014, 21:51 GMT)

214 for 5 after day one and winning the toss at home. Australia would get boo'ed off the field with that outing. No wonder there are no spectators at the ground with their national team putting on a show like that. Supposed no 1 team, ha! Aussies will roll them in the morning session tomorrow and be in front by the end of day two.

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (February 20, 2014, 21:42 GMT)

Match still in the balance here, but it seems to be a peculiarly flat and lifeless wicket. I wonder why? :-) How things have changed! I'm sure the SA quicks will not be looking forward to bowling here, and if Philander is carrying any injury it could be a real issue, because SA only have four bowlers (unless I'm missing someone). Still, if they get 300+ it is still runs on the board that AUS have to get. Lehman says the pitch is pretty good with plenty of grass but very dry underneath. That means it should spin later on, but probably won't break up too much. But do SA have a spinner who can take advantage of bowling last?

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 21:15 GMT)

Australia didn't claim all ten wickets within a day and so they're back to being useless again. How many will Australia be able to score with no seam or swing on offer, the ball losing a lot of speed off the slow surface and with no opposing specialist spin bowler? Par score 500?

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 21:06 GMT)

Evenly poised, I reckon. SA will be happy to have gotten through the day only 5 down, but probably at the same time will be looking for 340+ tomorrow, that'll be enough to put some pressure on. Early wickets could see them well short of that of course. AB and JP are going to need to bat with some care to ensure a good total.

For Aus I thought they bowled pretty well, stuck to their game plans and earnt their wickets with honest disciplined bowling.

The big mystery is how this pitch is going to play over the next four days. Will it hold together? Might it even quicken up a little with a bit of sun on it? It certainly looks like it is going to turn more as the game goes on. If it holds together I think Aus are a strong chance here but from the looks of it it's going to get tough to bat on days 4 and 5 in which case I think SA are holding the cards and Aus are going to have to bat very well first time round to get up in this match.

Posted by DragonCricketer on (February 20, 2014, 20:53 GMT)

Another reason Hughes should be playing is that he can keep which allows Haddin to have a trundle and take some pressure off Warner and co.

Posted by DragonCricketer on (February 20, 2014, 20:50 GMT)

I think Watson would have done good on this track. If he was fit. Always an if with him. I think Lyon will get more than 7 wickets in this match.

Posted by PFEL on (February 20, 2014, 20:45 GMT)

@Jagger, Harris and Johnson will be LONG retired by the time Cummins and Muirhead find a regular spot in the team mate.

Posted by Forza_Scuderia on (February 20, 2014, 20:29 GMT)

South Africa showing no intent whatsoever. The game has just started and yet it is meandering along. Started with this DEAD pitch which is only going to get slower and slower... I'd say things are about even at this stage with a slight edge to Australia simply because half the SA team is back in the pavilion with one more wicket exposing the tail.

Posted by pat_one_back on (February 20, 2014, 20:26 GMT)

The Doctor has eased SA pain with a lifeless deck but Aust have been so measly and SA so watchful that a couple of new ball wickets should put Aust well in front, a par 400 is a long way off. Warner may be a liability forcing the pace but this pitch will suit Rogers, Marsh, Doolan & Clarke nicely you'd think and SA are likely to serve up more loose balls particularly without a frontline spinner. Many will object but it looks very clear that SA decided a draw was needed to steady the ship for a tilt at a series draw in the 3rd and final, the Curator has obliged. This will be a fizzer unless someone finds some swing or Lyon pulls off something freaky in the 3rd innings, hard to see anyone getting blown away by the quicks on this tired surface.

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

south africans are truly rattled and scared of johnson.. they have the no 1 and no 2 best fast bowlers in the world, and they have prepared a slow slow pitch to neutralize johnson and thus showing lack of belief in their no 1 and no 2 !!! no wonder the rankings are not based on reality.. All hail the new world no 1 .. The conquering Aussies

Posted by Mervo on (February 20, 2014, 20:13 GMT)

The turgid wicket shows fear. Fear of what Johnson could do. Still the SA trio have to bowl and once the swing goes, they will also find the wicket pretty dry and lifeless. This wicket is even more bare than ones in the past. Nathan Lyon likes it I'm sure and he is a quality bowler.

Posted by page8383 on (February 20, 2014, 20:08 GMT)

South Africa have won a good toss here and are getting the best of the conditions. I'm disappointed at their level of fight in this series so far, bar De Villers. I think the draw against India was a good insight into their psyche - They did not back themselves to win a test with 3 overs to go and 3 wickets in hand. I think they have mental flaws, like the English did, and the Aussies are exploiting this with their faux arrogance and also through the media. They are also targeting the captain and drawing him into mind games re: Johnson and the "Aussie attack being the best in the world". It's a trick that Smith has fallen for - Instead of ignoring he gets sucked into replying and heaping pressure internally on himself and his team. Lehmann and Clarke have these guys all sorted out.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 19:49 GMT)

Quinton De Cock played one of the most chaotic, ugly heaves ever seen in Test match cricket and poor old Graeme Smith looks shot.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 19:42 GMT)

If this Australian team is that great, why all the complaining. From the comments on here I thought they would be able to bowl out SA on that road of a pitch in Kimberly. Are all Australians this arrogant?

Posted by gimme-a-greentop on (February 20, 2014, 19:31 GMT) have raised an interesting point because surely those stas would tell you PE usually has a wicket that is a fast bowler's paradise. I don't disagree with you about trying to neutralise Johnson (hell I would) but the fact of the matter is those fast bowlers took wickets at this ground despite the pitch, not because of it. Ambrose was just quality. In some of those cases you also have to take into account the opposition. Donald took his against a very out of sorts Indian line-up way back when ( I watched that Test at the ground). Steyn (in red hot form) against NZ after they had been demoralised in Cape Town. Fanie De Villiers most probably with judicious use of his cutter (bearing in mind that he took 10 on a Sydney pitch made for Warne) etc.

Posted by Lysnkey on (February 20, 2014, 19:28 GMT)

Sounds and looks like a proper day of Test cricket: arduous and, well, testing. SA is trying hard, Australia is trying hard. As they should be. But much as I enjoy many of the comments on this site, I do wish some people could be less childish. This is *sport*, of little importance except to those whose income depends on it, not an indicator of 'national' worth or character, and not even a particularly good indicator of personal character. The personae of players and teams are as much products of the media's need to make some sort of meaningful, productive--by which I mean money-making--narrative that will sell advertising, and the player's need/desire to do the same and to present a plausible 'front' that allows them to imagine they will perform to the best of their abilities. Why not concentrate on the game, enjoy the skill on display, applaud the achievements, sympathise with the 'failures', and--dare I say it?--seek identity and validation in other places. Leave aside the stereotyping.

Posted by GrindAR on (February 20, 2014, 19:27 GMT)

btw, what happened to RK Kleinveldt?

Posted by GrindAR on (February 20, 2014, 19:26 GMT)

whatever the the total is going to be, Smith has to useJPD & Faf wisely in bowling. They can bring a lot of variations, and will assist Morkel as well.

Posted by docbob on (February 20, 2014, 19:07 GMT)

Australia slightly in front after day 1. Smith (the new Doug Walters) chimed in again with an important wicket. Good team bowling. As always, DeVilliers remains the important wicket for Australia to take the upper hand. Clarke's astute and aggressive captaincy once again on show for all to see. Day 2 will be fascinating.

Posted by CM1000 on (February 20, 2014, 18:56 GMT)

If this pitch is always this flat and slow, how did Shaun Pollock, Alan Donald, Makhaya Ntini, Farnie de Villiers, Curtly Ambrose, Jason Gillespie, Javagal Srinath, Mohammad Asif and Dale Steyn all take 5 or 6 wicket hauls in one innings here for less than 15 runs a wicket, all in the last 15 years, and Steyn only a year ago?? The commentators I listened to today were remarking on how particularly dead this pitch is, not having been watered for many days. Maybe this is just a curator trying to ensure they get ticket sales on both Saturday and Sunday this week (unlike last week), but it also smells a lot like trying to neutralise Johnson after what he did to them last week.

Posted by goutamaniad on (February 20, 2014, 18:49 GMT)

Scanning through the comments from the latest to the first of them, one notices that a substantial number among them were milked from Oz-heads, with the same old affinity toward pompous predictions.

Pathetic, cuz they continue to live in the glory of what once was for them. Gosh, they'll even insouciantly predict that their performing players, most nearing their cricketing middle-age equivalents and blessed with fickle physiques, will continue to perform into the next few years?

Posted by marlboro19 on (February 20, 2014, 18:49 GMT)

It's not pre-1990 era my SA friends. I thought you guys were done with Sanctimonious ravings, and the country has changed to be more inclusive and fair. has it not?

Posted by marlboro19 on (February 20, 2014, 18:46 GMT)

@German fellow- You do realize that's what a 'doctored' pitch is, right?- A pitch prepared according to instructions. I do agree every cricket board in world does that; what I was pointing out was holier-than-thou attitude of the person I replied. You should read more about the context .

Posted by Adoh on (February 20, 2014, 18:43 GMT)

At this stage it looks pretty even to me. It seems that a par score first innings will be 300-340, could be more as I can't see how the Aussies will get de Villers wicket. Anyway, we wont really be able to judge this first innings performance until Australia bat. Very patient knock by Elgar, well done to him. There's something very irritating about du Plessis, can't quite put my finger on it. Steyn is a wiley bowler and will be a serious threat on this pitch. I can't see Morkel having much impact due to the lack of responsiveness of the wicket, nor Philander with there being little seam movement. Go Aussies!

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 18:39 GMT)

@ modernumpirez. Mate the slowness of the pitch makes thr 214 we already have alot more valuable cause its not gonna be easy to score on this track. You guys will bat last so you really think you are on top? Plus you are still gonna chase plenty of leather from AB and co on the second day. Lets see what Dale and Philander does on this track and then we see if I still "crack you up". The smugness of Australia does far in this country has been mind blowing and I better hope they can back it up all the way thru Cape Town because I guarantee you if you guys dont win not a SINGLE one of you aussies will come close to commenting here. I have a fealing Dale is gonna unleash hell on australia tomorrow

Posted by bowledout67 on (February 20, 2014, 18:39 GMT)

@warnerbasher.... 14 months ago Australia did the same thing in Brisbane to negate Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander...... I would love to see South Africa bat all day Tomorrow and into day 3.... no matter what the score might be.... just make Australia squirm with pain....

Posted by NoumenaX on (February 20, 2014, 18:37 GMT)

It might have been slow but i doubt it was lifeless for the last 125 years. All They will probably accomplish by making such a slow but rather tame pitch will be a draw as i highly doubt it that south africa would be able to bowl aus out on such a rather batsman friendly wicket. SA couldnt bowl aus out on a lively pitch what will be the odds against a slow wicket thats a lot easier to bat on. Since SA have no spinner i can only foresee aus making lots of runs when they bat as its not gonna swing or seem for the fast bowlers of sa. LOL hello13 you indirectly implying that sa batsman cant take advantage of their own doctored pitches to suit them ? Australia is prolly the only country that have no need for doctoring pitches

Posted by CM1000 on (February 20, 2014, 18:35 GMT)

@ Jagger - I thought Siddle did a very decent job today. On the deadest of pitches, running into the breeze, he kept it very tight and only went for 2.77 runs an over. He's clearly no spearhead, but I think he is a huge part of this attack which thrives on building pressure. I too can't wait to see Cummins back, and Muirhead is an extremely exciting prospect, and I also think Pattinson has a great future. But I think Siddle has been doing a very important job for the side, and doing it very well. I also have no doubt Clarke wished he had Watson to throw the ball to today instead of Warner. Given Harris's dodgy knee and short spells for MJ, I think they need a fifth bowler (batting at 6, not 3) for these types of conditions, otherwise they still risk what happened in Adelaide a year ago when Pattinson broke down and they only had 2 quicks on a flat track and so couldn't finish South Africa off - that also cost them any chance 3 days later in Perth when none of the quicks could back up

Posted by goutamaniad on (February 20, 2014, 18:31 GMT)

Scanning through the comments from the latest to the first of them, one notices that a substantial number among them were milked from Oz-heads, with the same old affinity toward pompous predictions.

Pathetic, cuz they continue to live in the glory of what once was for them. Gosh, they'll even insouciantly predict that their performing players, most nearing their cricketing middle-age equivalents and blessed with fickle physiques, will continue to perform into the next few years?

Posted by bzzd on (February 20, 2014, 18:27 GMT)

Nothing unusual about this Port Elizabeth pitch. IF SA can scratch to 350, that is probably a match winning score at this venue. Nothing to do with the pitch being 'doctored" as some posters suggest!

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 18:16 GMT)

SA is the best and capable power team compare to other team, so i wish to SA should win with the power. wish you all the my best team RSA

Posted by DragonCricketer on (February 20, 2014, 18:12 GMT)

@Greatest_Game - ha ha ha very funny. He still thinks SA are the best. Knows little about cricket.

Posted by gimme-a-greentop on (February 20, 2014, 18:11 GMT)

@keralite...The curator said that even if he left some grass on the pitch, it will never be like the quicker pitches up north. Having grown up watching cricket at St George's Park, I can tell you that is pretty accurate. It might seam around a bit with extra grass (which would suit Harris and Siddle more than Johnson anyway ) but it has been slow for years and years, as are a lot of the pitches in the Eastern Cape. So I don't think 'fear' has much to do with it. @malboro19 say Amla has been 'found out..much ado about nothing...' is just plain wrong. He has been so consistent for so long in all kinds of conditions that what you are saying doesn't apply anymore. Admittedly he is going through a bit of a lean run in Tests, but even the greatest go through a bad patch. His overall record proves he is world class, and I know a lot of Australians and cricket lovers from all countries would acknowledge that.

Posted by Hello13 on (February 20, 2014, 18:06 GMT)

Clarke is just a home condition bully, can't score runs in any different conditions, like we saw in India.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 18:06 GMT)

I think Imran Tahir will be missed in this match. Especially so, as the Aussies will have to bat the 4th innings (of course, if they have to at all!).

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 17:58 GMT)

let others keep chipping with good scores once in a while. ... there is one man who does his duty every time he walks in.... no need to mention the name

Posted by Chris_P on (February 20, 2014, 17:56 GMT)

@Greatest_Game. Agree with you. Any of these who post abut the pitch haven't done any reading about the history of PE pitches. From my side of ground, I am not sure, given the nature of pitches, why your team didn't go in with a specialist spinner. I'll wait until both teams bat before adding.

Posted by GermanPlayer on (February 20, 2014, 17:56 GMT)

@marlboro19 All the pitch curators in the world wait for instructions from the home team as to how much grass to leave on the surface. I don"t know which world you live in but thats called home advantage. Secondly, you seem to read cricinfo a lot. The same report in which the curator said he is waiting or instructions, he also said that he looked at a scorecard from a game played in 1913 at this venue. he said this pitch is slow since a 100 years and i can't make it fast overnight. Please know what you are talking about.

Posted by social_monster09 on (February 20, 2014, 17:48 GMT)

@Greatest_Game Hey buddy why are you so jealous of Australian team, that you show your arrogance in the comment posted by you as "I will be here at the end of the series. We will see if you are" That's not a good stuff. We all known SA is a good team but not the best as no one can or will never beat them. What will happen if Aussies really win this series?

Posted by warnerbasher on (February 20, 2014, 17:44 GMT)

Hilarious. A team with 3 of the top 10 seam bowlers in the world has to prepare a pitch to deaden the impact of opposition seamers because their batsmen are not equipped for the fight. SA are shot, gone, finito

Posted by Jagger on (February 20, 2014, 17:43 GMT)

Watching Harris, Johnson, Cummins, Muirhead as a bowling unit will be something special. I hope we get to see it. Try serving up a squib pitch to force a draw when we have that line up.

Siddle let us down today. He needs to go. Just one wicket from him and we win the day. 22 wasted overs.

Posted by doubledeckerbaas on (February 20, 2014, 17:43 GMT)

was it really a full toss that De Kock got out to? Not how it looked on the highlights, he didn't get to the pitch of the ball properly. Equally bad shot all the same.

Posted by Samdanh on (February 20, 2014, 17:42 GMT)

Unless Aus bat long and take a good first innings lead, SA has team to win this Test on a pitch that can only get slower and lower, besides aiding spin and as much as reverse swing at which Steyn and Philander and Parnell are greater exponents. The mere fact that SA has gone with 5 bowlers (including allrounder Duminy) holds them in good stead, - having won the toss and batted first on this pitch.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 17:41 GMT)

AB de Villiers is by far the greatest batsmen in the world at the moment. Another South African who isn't talked as much about as he should be..

Posted by marlboro19 on (February 20, 2014, 17:38 GMT)

SA always had had mixed pitches. They have never been famous for super bouncy pitches or slow turners. In some respect, this fact has given them more edge over their oppositions , but now that they are bereft of the only world class player they had, these pitches will come haunt SA . They were lucky against IND, as IND lacked a good bowling unit( IND bowling is pathetic, to be honest), but AUS has everything to beat them without a problem. This pitch has 'draw' written on it.

Posted by marlboro19 on (February 20, 2014, 17:31 GMT)

@Greatest_game Do tell me what the definition of a Doctored pitch is? Just a day ago cricinfo did a report on the pitch curator admitting he is waiting for a call from south african cricket board to decide what to do with the grass on the pitch. That's where YOU live, right?

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 17:26 GMT)

@Greatest_Game: I understand your reason for being unhappy, namely, comments about the pitch not supported by fact. Now, just out of curiosity - can you please foretell how the pitch for the Cape Town test is going to be (based on its historical behavior)? Thanks. (Oh - by the way - seen historically, India had never produced fast green pitches).

Posted by keralite on (February 20, 2014, 17:21 GMT)

What happened to the grass cover that curator was talkung of? May be some are scared and he shaved it off for them. Cheering for Australia now.

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

Guys, relax! Siddle already said that the bowlers might toil away in this test. In my perspective, it only means that we might get to see 15 sessions of SA vs Aus on the telly, the radio and the internet; free entertainment until Monday, which I don't mind at all.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 17:18 GMT)

match is pretty much evenly poised, but Australia might just have the upper hand. But what a knock(again) from AB, world's no.1&my best player, this guy is simply unstoppable. it'd be interesting to see how the lower order will face Mitch with the new ball

Posted by marlboro19 on (February 20, 2014, 17:11 GMT)

Amla has been found out, I suppose. Much ado about nothing.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (February 20, 2014, 17:06 GMT)

@ pat_one_back commented "Great grinding from SA but what a pudding of a pitch, no bounce…"

That is the nature of this pitch. Like other countries, SA has some quick, some slow, some low…. etc etc. It is really not the case that every pitch here is a green monster!

I believe that if India had not thrown a spanner in the works, and changed the FTP at the last minute, that this venue would have seen India play a test here, & Aus would not have played here. I could be wrong, but I think you may have the BCCI to thanks for this match on this "pudding pitch." This has never been a big scoring venue - I posted some of that info in another post - hope cricinfo publishes it.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (February 20, 2014, 16:58 GMT)

@milepost asserts Aus will "Blow the tail away tomorrow as is the norm. Australia well on top again….I thought @FFL might surface for a chirp but even he has conceded Australia are peerless now."

I thought I should let you know that !have conceded no such thing. You make bold statements now - we will see if you return to make comments at the end of the series, if Aus lose. I am fairly sure you will be as visible as FFL - & like him, crying in your beer.

Pride, they say, comes before a fall. We heard the same trash talk from Aussies when SA were last in Aus, and what happened? Aus won NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. Nada. Zilch. And then, after that, all we heard was the whinging and the excuses, the ifs & buts, but, as usual, few words of congratulation - except from the real gentlemen like Punter.

I don't expect much difference. I will be here at the end of the series. We will see if you are.

Posted by jb633 on (February 20, 2014, 16:57 GMT)

@critic_luva, SA had dead pitches against India too and in a lot of their grounds it has become a trend. Durban is normally turgid as is PE. Anyone who follows SA cricket closely will realise that turgid pitches are not particularly rare in some regions. The climate varies throughout the country hence they have a variety of surfaces. I have played club cricket in Cape Town and Durban and even at a lower level the pitches are quite different.

Posted by Akhter786 on (February 20, 2014, 16:50 GMT)

He who ever is saying that it was Australia's day is not quite getting it. This is not a 400/500 pitch. 300+ is a par score. de cock, this is no ordinary cricket, this is no odi or indian bowling. U must be cursing yourself not just for your own self but for the undue pressure you brought on to your team. Getting out to this Aussie attack is ok, but gifting it someone of the calibre of Smith( no disrespect intended) at such a crucial juncture in the dying moments is just hara-kiri.

ABDV it is all you now....

Posted by Greatest_Game on (February 20, 2014, 16:48 GMT)

@ critic_luva writes "Well well well. Never thought I would see the day. SA preparing dead tracks in their own backyards. Is this meant to protect their bowlers or batsmen? You figure it out. This is the same SA that had lively pitches against the Indians - who can't play short stuff. Seems like they - the Indians - are not the only ones."

All commenters agreed how "sub-continental" the pitches were for the Indian tests. India got the benefit of conditions that suited them, & SA did not, as you assert, prepare for those tests "lively pitches against the Indians - who can't play short stuff." The ODI pitches were livelier, & India were hammered senseless. The test pitches gave INDIA a chance.

Many here are ignorant about history & nature of the St. Georges park ground & it's pitch, and have done no research to find out about it's history & low, slow nature. Reading your post it seems that they - the ignorant ones who fail to find out the facts - "are not the only ones," as you wrote!

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 16:47 GMT)

utterly atrocious pitch. okay you wanna neuter the aussie quicks & render them ineffective. Also hope the aussie strokemakers get bored and will get themselves out by forcing the issue playing rash shots. but does this pitch make a compelling viewing for the spectators? I honestly fell asleep during the second session & woke up well into the 3rd session. such a muggy day. I know every pitch is the same for the both sides. but, come on man, sell the game.

Posted by DylanBrah on (February 20, 2014, 16:44 GMT)

On a wicket like this, it was a battle of patience... and Australia won in the end... Hopefully they can get a wicket early on tomorrow with the new ball, then run through the tail. Bowl South Africa out for anything under 300, and you are well on top. As a Test cricket fan it was disappointing to see South Africa doctor up a pitch like this... you would think having the no.1 and 2 fast bowlers in the world you would back them on a pitch with a bit more in it, and then back your batsmen (which includes the no.1 de Villiers, no.4 Amla) to score runs... but no.. they prepare a lifeless pitch and looked like they were playing for the draw from ball 1. Boring day of cricket. I think it is a big mistake by SA not to play a spinner when they prepare a wicket like this. I will not judge until I've seen him bowl, but Parnell's record looks really average... but then again the cupboard is bare when it comes to spinners... which will inevitably see them fall from the no.1 Test rank.

Posted by CM1000 on (February 20, 2014, 16:43 GMT)

@ Albie Hanekom - its absolutely amazing the lengths that South Africa have had to go to, producing one of the deadest pitches I have ever seen, to try to stay in the contest. Never thought I would see the day.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 16:41 GMT)

@jb633 atleast warnes commentary replicates his captaincy and tactical mind, running hard between wickets pushing overs through quickly when draws look imminent searching always for a win.

Posted by CM1000 on (February 20, 2014, 16:40 GMT)

@ Prithvi Jampana - you talk about it being hard to bat on - what about hard to bowl on! Since Australia's attack completely out-bowled South Africa's attack in the last match, imagine how hard the SA attack will find it here if it remains an excruciatingly slow pitch, with no movement in the air and no movement off the pitch. And SA have no spinner. Maybe SA can build some score-board pressure which Australia haven't been subjected to for a while, and maybe the atmospheric conditions change and the ball moves a bit. Otherwise it will remain very hard work for the bowlers on this surface. The difference may end up being Nathan Lyon.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (February 20, 2014, 16:37 GMT)

@ Rajesh.Kumar writes "Saffas decided that, in order to save their life and limb, they needed to make a subcontinental pitch..." social_monster09 agrees: " Not a good move by Saffas. They demolish there image ..."

The 3rd country in which a test match was played was South Africa. On March 12, 1889, test #31 was played St Georges Park - this ground. For 125 years the pitch has been known as low & slow. The highest innings total there is 549/7d - 1 of 3 scores over 500. The highest individual score was 196 @ SR 55.36. The highest match aggregrate was 1239. Best bowling match figs: Lohmann 1896, 15/45; Donald, 1992, 12/139; Younis, 1998, 10/133. These numbers ALL suggest a low, slow pitch.

This pitch has not been doctored, it has has not been slowed down, & both you gentlemen have made statements unsupported by FACT. You make unwarranted assumptions, state them as fact, & then demean SA. Pitch doctoring may be the norm where YOU live, but it is not the case in SA. Do NOT confuse them.

Posted by AltafPatel on (February 20, 2014, 16:32 GMT)

Elgar missed very good chance to play big innings and securing place. Whatever patience he had with scoring first run after 20 delivers, he could not control finally being trapped in delivery coming slower after pitching. DeKock didn't value maiden chance he got and confidence team management shown in him at critical situation after heavy defeat in first test, he disappointed everyone by throwing away wicket cheaply.

Posted by Iceman29 on (February 20, 2014, 16:29 GMT)

Difference between good spinner and an below average bowler....Lyon and Ashwin...what happened to quinton de cock..hope he plays only when below average bowlers bowl to him.... :P

Posted by AltafPatel on (February 20, 2014, 16:27 GMT)

This pitch is purely for spinners, whether specialist or part-time, doesn't matter. Clarke can also have hands rather than leaking runs from Siddle and resting the seamers. Ball comes very slow, which means patience only thing for hanging on the pitch and scoring runs on loose deliveries as Elgar did before losing patience.

Posted by AnanthX on (February 20, 2014, 16:24 GMT)

Lots of people saying it was Australia's day. I thin South Africa will win this. Show us why they're number one.

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 20, 2014, 16:23 GMT)

@PrasPunter Anything under 300 is way too low. If SA make 300 Australia will be looking to bat once in this test match and leave SA 1.5-2 days at the end. If Aus survive the new ball against SA 1 or 2 down it's going to be a long first innings in the field for the South Africans.

@Albie Hanekom You crack me up man. This score line is in Australia's favour right now, no question about it. Steyn is going to get nothing out of this pitch so all he can hope for is that the conditions in the air assist swing bowling. I'd be pretty surprised if Philander can get a wicket. Even if you nick one it's pretty unlikely to carry to slips unless you're trying to smash the cover off it.

Posted by StreetView on (February 20, 2014, 16:23 GMT)

This Nathan Lyon is the best spinner right now along with Ajmal. Picks wickets everywhere with a classical bowling style. Wish our Indian bowlers Ashwin,Jadeja,Ojha learn from him. Bowling in unresponsive pitches in Oz seems to have helped him bowl well anywhere irrespective of the pitch's nature. Whereas our bowlers are made lazy by our spinner-friendly pitches.Good for Oz!

Posted by critic_luva on (February 20, 2014, 16:09 GMT)

Well well well. Never thought I would see the day. SA preparing dead tracks in their own backyards. Is this meant to protect their bowlers or batsmen? You figure it out. This is the same SA that had lively pitches against the Indians - who can't play short stuff. Seems like they - the Indians - are not the only ones.

I hate it when people talk about a player's ability or lack thereof against the short ball. I've been watching or listening to cricket for over 40 years. Fredricks, Majid Khan were all good players of the hook shot but I have only ever seen one player who truly dared FAST bowlers to bounce at him. Anyone who saw him at Kensington Oval against Thommo know what I am talking about and that was without a helmet. That is why he is the greatest certainly in this modern era. Meet Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards.

Today's batsmen are overrated. ONE fast bowler got the whole cricketing world topsy turvy. those 50 plus avgs would be gone against former pace attacks.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 16:00 GMT)

Interesting days cricket. I think Aus would be the happier of the two teams with a brand new ball and a tail beckoning. This is a very low slow pitch and i think Aus's bowlers were excellent in maintaining good discipline throughout the day. Of course Steyn still needs a bowl, so until thats done we wont know what a good score is, but id say that 300 is under par here.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 15:57 GMT)

AB 12th test in a row with at least a fifty. 6 x 100's and 6 x 50's, this innings not finished. Pure class and by a mile the best batsman on the planet. Thought everyone said ozzie fast men doesnt care what pitch it is and that they will destroy on any pitch?? Proven wrong completely toothless even johnson, SA threw away 3 pathetic wickets against poor spinners otherwise it would have highlighted even more how ordinary their fast men are when the pitch is spitting like a cobra

Posted by milepost on (February 20, 2014, 15:57 GMT)

Blow the tail away tomorrow as is the norm. Australia well on top again. It is going to be a bit of a nightmare playing Australia for the foreseeable future but it is fantastic to watch. I thought @FFL might surface for a chirp but even he has conceded Australia are peerless now.

Posted by disco_bob on (February 20, 2014, 15:55 GMT)

SA could have juiced this pitch up a bit groundsman said it hadn't been watered since tuesday. High risk strategy by SA when they have the no. 1 and 2 bowlers in the world. Puffs of dust already, could be turning square for Lyon day 3/4. Could be a very cagey day tomorrow. Australia's have won the patience battle so far SA have shown themselves to be a little toey. Glad we have Marsh and Doolan after seeing them at Centurion. Bit of luck having the new ball first up tomorrow, now we know we have to make it count. Got to be Australia's day with those two gimme wickets.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 15:54 GMT)

South Africa!! If its hard for south Africans to bat on this wicket, imagine how Aussie will play Steyn and Co.

Posted by PrasPunter on (February 20, 2014, 15:50 GMT)

It is very clear that a wrist-spinner would have ran through this lineup. Smith landed most of those poorly but one or two were really rippers. Time to give Muirhead lot of support. Unless Aus bowl SA out for anything less than 270+, it is going to be difficult for us. Don't see that happening though, unless Mitch picks himself up for this one. Pace bowling lacked venom today.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 15:47 GMT)

First doctor a pitch. Make it so slow as to be turgid. Keeper standing 12 feet closer than at Supersport was still taking most balls at knee or ankle height even when released from the hand at 140kmph or faster. Suit SA's vaunted spin attack in the 4th innings.... Oh they haven't got one! Not even a decent spinner never mind a "spin attack" 200 for 5 is a very VERY poor return on a pitch as placid as this. This is a grind for 600+ pitch if ever I saw one. SA win the toss on this pitch - bat first - and score at barely 2 an over for one of the most boring days cricket I've ever witnessed. Fine if they were one up looking to kill the series. But they are 1 down and need to win this test to stand any chance. SA? Attacking cricket? After one big loss and they look like scared rabbits trying to draw a match they need to win. They've already lost this series but don't realise it yet.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 15:42 GMT)

Tough day at the field for the Aussie. Nothing from the pitch whatsoever to assist, bounce was meehh.

Credit to Elgar for hanging around. AB just in a different class. And i am still very impressed with Lyon. This man is so underrated yet he makes so many breakthrough!

One or two wickets here and there, break partnership, tie up an end, still a good job. Not a Warney(yet?, maybe? dunno), but Lyon is definitely doing a good job.

Also good move from Clarke in the end. AB was so comfortable batting, no use of giving him free runs. Just get the troops back in.

Posted by jb633 on (February 20, 2014, 15:36 GMT)

Got to say I thought Lyon was very good today. He has certainly improved a great deal as a spinner and bowls with a very clever loop. He gave Clarke the control he desperately needed when things weren't happening for the quicks. Very strong performance from him today and he could come into his own in the second innings given the pitch is deteriorating already.

Posted by AltafPatel on (February 20, 2014, 15:33 GMT)

Elgar and DeKock threw away wickets unnecessarily forgeting importance of their wicket considering situation SA facing and chances they had to have great comeback.

Posted by jb633 on (February 20, 2014, 15:33 GMT)

On another note, I hope for the sake of world cricket that Shane Warne is never allowed near a com box again. His tweets etc are so annoying and his level of bias is actually sickening. He can't wait to jump at the opposition for being negative (basically by this he means the Aussies aren't winning and he doesn't like it). He used to be such a legend but everything he has done since retirement has made him look silly.

Posted by jb633 on (February 20, 2014, 15:30 GMT)

SA have made a huge blunder not playing a spinner here. From the outset they seem to have been so muddled in their thinking. This pitch is starting to turn a fair bit on day one. Duminy is a handy operator but surely this is a pitch for a specialist spinner. Peterson is not a great spinner but on a wicket like this you say to him, here is your last chance on a pitch that will assist you. If he failed here then the selectors should say never again but this pitch is crying out for a spinner.

Posted by jb633 on (February 20, 2014, 15:16 GMT)

De Villiers is going to go onto be a better batsmen than Sachin or Lara. Given any conditions against any type of bowling he just looks so good. He plays the ball so late and knows his game inside out. Kholi and De Villiers are going to be the best batsmen of this generation.

Posted by MonkeyBooBoo on (February 20, 2014, 15:08 GMT)

Fantastic bowling S.Smith

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (February 20, 2014, 14:56 GMT)

SA are digging themselves a hole. It's well and good to grind, but never die in your own hole. If you lose wickets while scoring slowly, it's a death sentence. Australia are happy at the moment, if SA are going to score a big score, it will take so long that it won't matter or they might lose lots of wickets.

It's a hiding or nothing for SA at the moment.

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 20, 2014, 14:55 GMT)

Always hilarious when Steve Smith has a bowl. Long hop, full toss, long hop, full toss, wicket, full toss. Classic.

Posted by Biggus on (February 20, 2014, 14:55 GMT)

Oh dear, De Kock gets out to Smith bowling absolute pies.

Posted by sachin_vvsfan on (February 20, 2014, 14:17 GMT)

I will wait for steyn to bowl before commenting on the pitch. He has been following a pattern. Fails in first match(es) but comes back with vengeance in further matches. This has been happening for quite some time.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 14:13 GMT)

Fair play to South Africa, they have recovered really well from a perilous early position. Remember that the Aussie batting has strung together some massive scores recently and the pitch offers nothing to the bowlers so SA will be forced to go through the slow bowling grind as well. Both sides should find it a bridge too far to get the 20 wickets to close this one out.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 13:53 GMT)

Has there ever been a Cricket team that has underachieved more than South Africa ?

Posted by disco_bob on (February 20, 2014, 13:44 GMT)

Nodded off during the 2nd session but looks like this final one will be the crucial on. We saw This sitation during the Ashes Where England could not get away then suddenly 3 quick wickets and all over halfway through the first session on day two.

Posted by pat_one_back on (February 20, 2014, 13:26 GMT)

Great grinding from SA but what a pudding of a pitch, no bounce, amazing MJ has struck the blows he has and some fine courage dropping hands to take the blows. Unlike Eng, SA have the patience to ride it out, mind you Watson's overs shouldn't be underrated. Games there for both teams after tea, too late for me unfortunately...

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 13:24 GMT)

About the pitch, a team trying to the best should not be moaning about a slow pitch but winning on all surfaces. Any way, this ground has always been low and slow with a bit of lateral movement. It seems Smith was right wrt MJ and the centurion strip.

Posted by Great_Lion on (February 20, 2014, 13:21 GMT)

Mark my word, Steyn will come hard at aussies in this test.Anger and pace will sure be with him and will destroy the australian top order.

Posted by rajcl on (February 20, 2014, 12:45 GMT)

oh come on man in 1 st vs india SA managed to draw its not INDIA , on 459 target SA has managed to draw the match

Posted by yjreddyindia on (February 20, 2014, 12:40 GMT)

Decock should keep the wickets.why sa is putting lot of burden on ABD?

Posted by Mitty2 on (February 20, 2014, 12:27 GMT)

Ah Nathan does the trick! And I was about to go to bed! He wasn't turning it, had been intelligently attacked, yet came back with a key breakthrough on a seriouslt slow pitch. Why wasn't doolan bat-pad? Ah can't imagine Peterson making any such breakthrough.

Importantly, when people mention Elgar's (in)famous pair they should also note he scored an unbeaten 250 against Aus A. Has batted very well and sensibly. Looks extremely comfortable - but so did Faf... - and I reckon he's set for a big score on what is a timid pitch with no swing, seam or spin.

Also, there is one thing that is just SO annoying with Haddin. There's been multiple edhes that haven't carried and every ball is collected at his feet. Why in all hell doesn't he stand closer? Has been doing it for as long as I remember, and it's especially frustrating when edges just don't carry.

I reckon bed it is now. 123-3. Very even - had been strangely entertaining and of high quality so far. Forget India, this is 1 vs 2.

Posted by Roshan_P on (February 20, 2014, 12:27 GMT)

Elgar seems to be pretty solid. SA should let him play a few more Tests as opener, and maybe they could finally have a long-term opening partner for Smith in him.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 12:22 GMT)

@Super-Sharky No the selectors did not get it wrong. Do you at any point in any test remember Tahir or Petersen being a wicket taking threat? Granted RP is a supposed all-rounder but Tahir can't field and certainly cannot bat and has never in a single match i have watched done any more than just hold up an end, if that. Parnell offers variation as well as being a superb fielder and way more than handy with the bat...also he is still young. Also Wayne is bowling like lightning these days. After this test is over as yourself if you think Tahir would have made a bigger impact. I bet the answer to that question will be a resounding NO and face hiding will occur. Actually the team we have picked today will remain the same for the final test too. You'll see.

Posted by GoCho on (February 20, 2014, 12:19 GMT)

There you go. Lyon makes the crucial breakthrough! I have been screaming hoarse for the last 1-2 years this guy is so under-rated! If only they had played him in the Ashes in England right from the start, the scoreline wouldnt have been 3-0.

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 20, 2014, 12:18 GMT)

Whatever would we do without Nathan Lyon. Love that man.

Posted by social_monster09 on (February 20, 2014, 12:18 GMT)

@ Rajesh.Kumar- You said absolutely right mate. No pace, no swing, no bounce even not much turn in the pitch for spinner. Not a good move by Saffas. They demolish there image and they called themselves No.1. No.1 team never scares & never give up like Australian team of 2 decades when they dominate the whole cricketing world. Sad to see...

Posted by GermanPlayer on (February 20, 2014, 12:11 GMT)

@Rajesh.Kumar I would not say that i i were you. SA have showed in the past they are capable ov playing on dead pitches too. They beat Pakistan by an innings in the UAE not so long ago. Also, India nearly lost the first game and surely lost the second on pitches that were quite similar.

Posted by wanatawu on (February 20, 2014, 12:10 GMT)

Very impressed with Elgar he is n gritty batsman just what SA needs, cose I though SA got to many flashy batsmen, Amla, Petersen, AB, Faf(although he sometimes look like a grafter).

Posted by AnthonyMD on (February 20, 2014, 11:59 GMT)

Appears to be a fairly benign pitch, I reckon the Aussies should have played a fifth bowler. As much as Watto gets canned on this forum he does add an element of balance to the team with his all round ability.

Posted by Mr.CricketJKNotHussey on (February 20, 2014, 11:53 GMT)

@matho73 Leaving out Robbie was the right choice. In the previous matches, Duminy has outspun Petersen and Tahir on many occasions and Elgar isn't too shabby. Plus, Petersen and Tahir brought virtually no batting to the team and were just taking a spot. Parnell brings variety to the attack and can bat pretty well too. De Kock's debut was due and Elgar is playing well right now.

Posted by PrasPunter on (February 20, 2014, 11:33 GMT)

Think we erred in not choosing a 4th paceman - Lyon not doing much, from the looks of it. Will score 400+. Have to see how Aus comes out of this.

Posted by Rajesh.Kumar on (February 20, 2014, 11:29 GMT)

So finally Saffas decided that, in order to save their life and limb, they needed to make a subcontinental pitch, a dead track. This ploy may save them from injuries, but will not help them win. Because it will be equally lifeless when they bowl...

Posted by matho73 on (February 20, 2014, 11:18 GMT)

Really amazed South Africa have gone into the test without a recognised spinner. More amazed the selectors think part-timers Duminy and Elgar can do the job. Everytime I have seen SA fail to play a spinner against Australia, they struggle. They have a bland/same all attack (albeit still very strong) but without a spinner it looks blander. Peterson is unfairly targeted in SA fans' quarters. He holds an end up tightly and builds decent pressure - and that is what SA need to win.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (February 20, 2014, 11:17 GMT)

@ Chn2 wrote "Nice to see AB playing as a batsman only. But he must bat at No:4 to strengthen SA batting order in all condition. Your's best batsman has to be either at no 3 or 4."

AB is still the keeper. SA cannot make de Kock the keeper or there will be an outcry that he was selected ahead of Thami Tsolkile. That may sound completely stupid, but is the unfortunate truth of SA sports politics. Thami is a good gloveman, but can't bat at all. de Kock can be selected as a "batsman" to get around the problem, but AB them has to be the official keeper. Now it might happen that de Kock takes the gloves from AB after a while because AB's hand is hurting … etc etc.

Selection in SA is not primarily about cricketing skills!

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 11:03 GMT)

south africa can't save this test and they learn how to play after this series

Posted by disco_bob on (February 20, 2014, 11:03 GMT)

Good to see a bit of resistance but Australia are good at the patience game. Nice to see Lyon being given a go in these conditions. They have the chance to get him will they have the courage. I think going after Lyon is the key here for the Saffas.

Posted by Biggus on (February 20, 2014, 11:00 GMT)

Elgar's reminding me just a little of John Edrich. Harris looks far and away the most likely to strike and nothing for Nathan Lyon in it so far. MJ will need to get it to swing and lots of work for Peter Siddle by the look of it. Bit of a pudding of a pitch.

Posted by SuperSharky on (February 20, 2014, 10:58 GMT)

I agree that Robin Petrson should be in the limited overs squad and Tahir should be in the Test squad. The selectors got it wrong. But there is no need for a specialist spinner, like Tahir, in Port Elizabeth. This team is a better team than the one at Centurion. The Proteas pattern of the past showed that they like to fight back. Almost everybody expected that. Since Amla became a dad, he's got 'Dad-Laziness' and I would like to see him bat at 5 & Faf bat at 3. It worked for Chanderpaul. Still so much time left with a lot of talented cricketers to show there stuff. This Test is gonna unfold very entertainingly.

Posted by VivGilchrist on (February 20, 2014, 10:57 GMT)

The pitch looks green, but it is completely slow and lifeless. It's like a Ferrari with a Hyundai Xcel's engine.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 10:56 GMT)

Lyon bowling in the first hour and Warner bowling before lunch on the first day, never thought i'd see that from the best team in the universe for the past 1000 years.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 10:55 GMT)

Solid start for South Africa, they won't have enjoyed having to bat first in these conditions, but the right choice I think. If they can build a score, that's when we'll see the inexperienced Aus batting under pressure, not on a flat dry track, batting first, as was the case at centurion. Elgar showing plenty of guts and determination, looks a far better bat than Alviro.

Posted by harykrishnan on (February 20, 2014, 10:37 GMT)

This is close to the strongest team , proteas can field ....will be the strongest if duminy can rediscover consistency in batting or sa manage to unearth a decent off spinning allrounder

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 10:22 GMT)

good to see SA batting first shows confidence. and the new batting line up looks solid. heres hoping they can post 400+

Posted by Roshan_P on (February 20, 2014, 10:14 GMT)

This seems like a better SA squad without the bits and pieces roles of Robin Peterson and Ryan McLaren. They should be restricted to limited overs cricket - they certainly aren't Test match quality. Not sure about Elgar or Parnell although they seem to be better than the other two, but we know de Kock is promising.

Posted by amfas on (February 20, 2014, 10:10 GMT)

@Lawton Line & Length bowling in ODI's is very different to that of Tests, but you right they do need to find away of combating MJ. I think Ryan Harris will be more effective on this pitch!!

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 9:47 GMT)

Two things are definite: Oz win and Smith's stupidity; and I'm not sure about Smith's mindset. Port Elizabeth pitch is usually slow & low but it looks green top now. The team which is supposed to be dominant in the test format obviously in its own den with back to back 2 good series win looks faint picture here. With 11 for 2 in first 6 overs Proteas are heading for another collapse. Hesitancy in selection of the team while going for toss clearly shows the fear in the minds of Proteas and that probably put Oz ahead of all. Team management feel Half Philander better than anyone but Oz don't bother about him. What makes MJ special? Everyone was mocking on Yuvraj & Raina few months back against MJ but what happened to them now? Oh, I forgot, they are Green Top Bullies. Even though then they are counting here 0.386 seconds after delivery to reach the batsmen which might be good excuse.

Posted by Thegimp on (February 20, 2014, 9:35 GMT)

Top order wickets? I would like to see the stats of all great bowlers and see what the percentages are. I would say that they generally get 2 top order wickets and destroy the tail. I would think that in most cases the top 5 batsmen get out to three frontline bowlers and then you get your best bowlers to run through the rest. Should ask Steve

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 9:23 GMT)

they all hit back .im sure.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 9:22 GMT)

SA batsmen when facing Johnson should be unorthodox in their approach. They should adopt T20 or ODI techniques and try to score against every ball from Johnson. Johnson's figures of 1 for 70 in the recent ODI against England bears my theory out. Trying to be orthodox against MJ just WILL NOT WORK.

Posted by Chn2 on (February 20, 2014, 9:20 GMT)

Nice to see AB playing as a batsman only. But he must bat at No:4 to strengthen SA batting order in all condition. Your's best batsman has to be either at no 3 or 4.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 9:15 GMT)

I think it' the end of an era. Life after Kallis needs to be adjusted to. We are not looking good in the bat department.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 9:09 GMT)

It is really good to see SA accept that changes are required and have the courage to make them. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I hope the Indians learn from this and stop selecting the same 11 no matter who the opponent is or where they are playing. Anyway sorry this is about SA and Aus so lets enjoy this Test.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 9:08 GMT)

Never mind. I take it back! Lol! I love this game. It's so humbling. Oz are a team in form. When SA were in form, back in the day when they were given games to play (remember those?), they were the team in form. Still, it would be nice to see some resistance. Come on lads!!

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 9:04 GMT)

Smith must seriously consider his future. Amla's run spree has come to an end just like Alastair Cook's. Wheels of fortune turning...

Posted by amfas on (February 20, 2014, 8:59 GMT)

Carbon copy of the 1st test after 6 overs? What a horrid start for SA!!

Posted by GoCho on (February 20, 2014, 8:59 GMT)

11/2 in the 6th over! The Aussie bowlers are all over the Saffers like a rash..

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 8:48 GMT)

Not so disco bob... not yet! Wish the debutant was keeping. Poor AB. Wayne... hmmm. Well I hope he can be at peace with himself and just play like he is capable.

Posted by wapuser on (February 20, 2014, 8:47 GMT)

Time for Australia to regain his lost Status.

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (February 20, 2014, 8:42 GMT)

Good to see SA playing for a draw from the second over. Bit of a dilemma there for Smith. It took some guts - or perhaps insanity - to bat first.

Posted by Diaz54 on (February 20, 2014, 8:37 GMT)

brave and good move to bat first

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 8:36 GMT)

SA should have taken Imran Tahir in the team, he can be deadly with his googly..

Posted by JimmySA on (February 20, 2014, 8:36 GMT)

What a great team selection. If we lose now then Australia thoroughly deserve to win.

Posted by AltafPatel on (February 20, 2014, 8:35 GMT)

Duminy should have replaced by Dudolph. He is completely waste.

Posted by disco_bob on (February 20, 2014, 8:27 GMT)

The match hasn't started yet, but I'm confident that by the time this is published SA will be 3 for not a lot.

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Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
Tour Results
South Africa v Australia at Centurion - Mar 14, 2014
Australia won by 6 wickets (with 30 balls remaining)
South Africa v Australia at Durban - Mar 12, 2014
Australia won by 5 wickets (with 2 balls remaining)
South Africa v Australia at Port Elizabeth - Mar 9, 2014
Match abandoned without a ball bowled
South Africa v Australia at Cape Town - Mar 1-5, 2014
Australia won by 245 runs
South Africa v Australia at Port Elizabeth - Feb 20-23, 2014
South Africa won by 231 runs
More results »
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News | Features Last 3 days