15 February 2014

South Africa versus Australia, 1st Test, day 4

Australian 1st innings: 397 all out
Shaun Marsh 1
48, Steven Smith 100
ale Steyn 4-78

South African 1st innings:
206 all out
AB de Villiers 52*
Mitchell Johnson
7-68, Nathan Lyon 2-38

Australian 2nd innings: 4/290 declared
David Warner 115, Alex Doolan 89, Shaun Marsh 44

South African 2nd innings: 200 all out (Target 482)
AB de Villiers 48
Mitchell Johnson 5-59, Ryan Harris 2-35

Mitchell Johnson started the Ashes series with 205 wickets from 51 Tests.

After this Test he now has 254 wickets from 57 Tests, 49 wickets added to the collection. This Test match he has taken a career-best 12 wickets, a phenomenal achievement and done so against the number one ranked side. It was all too easy against England? I think the hard answers were smashed into the grills of the pessimists as Mitchell Johnson delivered another scary spell against the Proteas, the most fearsome since the 90s. Remember it, embrace it!

It was no surprise these scintillating performances with the ball earned Mitch the Man of the Match award (the 9th award in his Test career). Of his last 6 Tests he has claimed the award four times.

The spells were frightening, devastating, and more than enough to put Mitchell Johnson into the ranks as one of the most fearsome bowlers in the history of the game. I hope viewers realise what they saw this summer and in this game against South Africa. It rarely comes along and when it does it should be engraved into your memory banks. This game reminded me of his spell at Kingsmead, Durban, 2009. Initially that is. Well done Mitch.

Besides Mitch, the difference was evident. Our batsmen showed that gritty determination on display during the Ashes. The result was three centurions at Centurion (Shaun Marsh 148, Steven Smith 100, David Warner 115), a debutant who held his nerve superbly (Alex Doolan 27, 89), a bowling unit who presented synergy amongst some minor fatigue, and fielding standards carried on from where they were raised to the highest of benchmarks over the Australian summer.

Chris Rogers will be the one man who will feel disappointed with his output. He never looked settled and struggled to showcase the patience and caution he usually displays to see off the new ball. It was uncharacteristic and I hope to see a stronger performance from him.

The day started off though with the Proteas batsmen surely knowing they'd have a rough time out there. Variable bounce, good pace off the track, and a bowling attack ready for the kill.

Morne Morkel was terrific with the ball as the day began, but simply demonstrated to Michael Clarke what the track had to offer for day 4 and lead to a very quick declaration. Shaun Marsh didn't add to his overnight score of 44, but his simple prod at the ball to get caught behind indicated there was little intention to go out to claim more runs to the already monstrous lead. With Morkel's demo done, Clarkey called for the declaration and the proceedings began for The Baggy Greens to take the win, draw first blood of the 3-match Test series.

It didn't take long. Alviro Petersen has been playing away from his body, a trigger movement to his leg stump, and Mitchell Johnson hasn't let him settle. His dismissal was inevitable with this technique, very well analysed by Shaun Pollock in the commentary box versus the way AB de Villiers handled himself.

Alex Doolan had a brilliant debut. Besides his composure of day 3, his catches taken at short leg were freakish to say the least. The most bizarre factor was the way he actually got his hands into a position to take the catches. It didn't just seem to be pure reflex, but someone with freakish reflexes who instinctively went for the catch. Simon Katich was very good in the position, as was the original player I watched under the helmet - David Boon. Alex Doolan has quickly taken a likening to the role and helped Mitch grab two wickets, the big one of Graeme Smith and then JP Duminy.

Mitchell's damage of the day was that of his wicket taking. However, physical intimidation included smashing a bouncer into Hashim Amla's grill, first ball which nearly took his helmet straight off.

Ryan McClaren had ducked and weaved quite well until he ducked into a fast ball back of a length from Mitch. It bashed into the side of his head and drew blood from his ear. The battle is exciting, but it is a bit sickening when something like that happens. Even the bowler who executes the pain doesn't like it, but that is the game and that is the job of the intimidator. Cricket is a tough game and a red ball coming at you around 150km/h is terrifying.

After the break, McClaren was dismissed shortly after and would have been quite pleased to get off the ground and ease the pounding in his head. Hope he recovers okay. 

Vernon Philander took a delivery onto his finger, then his bat broke.

Mitchell's job was done with another 5 wickets in the bag. Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle finished proceedings. Both of them have done a grand job this Test, nothing too flash or overly effective, but that effectiveness has come from tight bowling with little pressure release from their duties. Both looked a little down on energy but I still have high expectations of these two experienced campaigners.

Sids was able to vary the seam and get variable bounce off the track, especially with fuller paced bowling, while Ryano was like a metronome. This output gave him the reward of Hashim Amla's wicket. Craig McDermott's 101 plan.

The victory came in good time, with the boys having one day extra to rest their bodies, clear their minds and prepare for a quick turnaround before the Test down in Port Elizabeth.

Since South Africa's readmission into sports only one Test has been played in PE, St George's Park, which we won. Mark Waugh took the Man of the Match award after a century which ensured we were able to squeeze out a victory by 2 wickets. I remember it very well.

It's a good vibe when games get played at St. George's. Usually there's a band belting out some regular anthems and it should make the atmosphere at the smaller ground a good advertisement in a big clash for both sides. We look to take the series, South Africa look to stay alive.

So, it the next venue has some history in our favour as the boys will fight hard to go 2-0 up and claim another Test series in South Africa. Newland's hasn't been a good hunting ground for us, but we ended South Africa's good run at Centurion and have gained momentum to go 1-0 up.

Tough work ahead still in my opinion and I hope our bowlers rest up well to be ready to do it all again on Thursday.

Proud to write we took each day of this Test. Very happy.

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

What tremendous bowling by Mitch. They are using him so wisely. None of this line and length long spells nonsense. He can't do it and they don't expect him to try. Great to see the batsmen switch on. Marsh and Smith's first innings partnership was a clever, patient construction. Very welcome indeed.