Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Analysis of the 1st Australia versus South Africa Test

The first chapter in this book has left us drooling for more with how an Australia side that most scribes wrote off as little or no chance against the Number 1 ranked South Africans. Leaving this drawn game with their feet firmly on their visitors throats with a kill imminent if the match had not been shortened by rain.

We should not being in any way surprised by what we have witnessed for the one thing that recent history has taught us when these two get together is too expect anything to happen...


You really cannot begin to compliment the Team highly enough with how they flipped this game on its ear.  Made more noteworthy by the many times they were threatened to be blown away within the match only for them to show a real propensity to fight until they prevailed.

Filling up their sails with Momentum as the series goes forward...

Two battles stood out within the game that were won decisively by the Aussies despite them entering them to lend a Boxing parlance in the guise of a Bantamweight up against a Heavy Weight

Firstly with the bowling unit up against a well set Masterful pairing of Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis supported by a pitch that was a bed for both to lie in. They were part of this situation through a very substandard bowling display on Day 1 where they lacked penetration in their lines and length and duly failed to build up any pressure. Entering the 2nd day everyone just assumed that the South Africans would pound them into submission with them racking up 500 plus by Tea. How the Aussie bowlers firstly stymied this collaboration then broke it up was the decisive part of the match. Seeing only 195 runs be scored in 69.4 overs with an expected avalanche of runs being expertly averted .

With South Africa being bundled out for 450 which would have been 100 runs less than they would have anticipated as they started the day. Made worse by the time lost from a combination of their dithering batting and the Aussies maintaining relentless pressure on them

As Michael Clarke stated after in lauding the teams attitude which stood out in this phase where the South Africans offered them an inch and they made it into a mile

Round 2 was the batting with the Australian top 3 which after yet another failure should be included in this saying for the Ages

'The only things certain in Life are Death, Taxes and the Australian top 3 failing'

 40/3 with Ed Cowan and Michael Clarke together......

Everyone knew that Clarke would make a stand and defy the expected tidal wave for that is what he has done since assuming the Captaincy with him morphing into the Meterosexual version of Allan Border from the mid 80's. The same unshakable faith shown in Clarke was matched by the doubt in Cowan, who most believed should be back in State Cricket.

It was apparent that the South Africans had little regard for Cowans abilities too

Cowan's willingness to pull and hook South Africa's fast bowlers, and the way those shots flew off the middle of the bat, was notable. The short ball held no fears. His cover-driving was exquisite, his footwork, like everything else about his game, was balanced. For a Test opener, that's the key word.

4 hours of enduring this certainly changed the low appraisal of Cowan from South African minds as well as him beim ordained as being 'worthy' of his Baggy Green in Aussie eyes

Most will point to how the game ended as to why the Aussies hold the whip handle as the series goes forward, but these two battles were where it was truly won

With the Team being pushed to the edge of the abyss, only for them to eye ball the pressure, challenge it and decisively flip it back in its favour.

Making the South Africans know that the Aussies in crunch time in this series will choose to take a step forward to face and deal with hardships rather than a step back to cower and be brought to their knees

Star Men

Michael Clarke 

A bit of a Captain Obvious when a batsman scores 259* after coming in under pressure at 40/3, and how he displayed his absolute completeness as a batsman had all in stunned awe

Then away from his batting which had a profound impact on the match his Captaincy has instilled a real belief and renewed attitude in this group that was so lost in the later days of Puntas Captaincy

Nathan Lyon

Most will greet me nominating Lyon with the response

'What the Fuck...........! '

But take this into account.......

Lyon had a target on his head as big as Ayers Rock from the South African batsmen and they got to him on the 1st day with him going at 5 an over and being hit out of the attack. Come the 2nd day with both Kallis and Amla set, you knew that as soon as Lyon came on they would try to maul him to not only accelerate the run rate, but to lessen the effectiveness of the other bowlers through Lyon being rendered a non entity. Then with it the extra work load brought to bare on them .

He not only stood up to this, but he actually was key in strangling the run rates on Day 2 that was behind the Aussies dismissing the Saffers for well under what they had hoped

Team Rating- 8.5/10- Very fine performance by the Aussies

Looking Forward

The Team played well, and indeed can play better with their bowling Unit being workmanlike, but lacking the penetration it has had of late

In defence of them, the Road pitch did not aide in their efforts

I think for variety Mitchell Starc needs to be added for the Adelaide Test

As for the batting, despite the performance in this game with the pitch acting as wall paper to cover its cracks action needs to be taken

Pure and simple Michael Clarke needs to stop hiding at 5 and move up to three

Assuming Shane Watson is fit this would be my line up

Warner, Cowan, Clarke, Ponting, Watson, Hussey, Wade, Starc, Pattinson, Siddle, Lyon

South Africa

I am trying to be kind here but are failing miserably as I run the rule over South Africa's play in this game

So here goes.........

A performance that combined head scratching moments with head in hands moments ending with you completely losing your lolly from the play on the field and the decisions made off it.

Firstly the Selection of the Team was bizarre with Imran Tahir left out for an all pace attack that included debutante Rory Kleinveldt with J P Duminy to bowl spin.

Duminy getting injured magnified the Selection gaff, but on seeing Kleinveldt, it seems his selection was made specifically to substitute for Jacques Kallis's expected absence from the bowling unit due to injury.

Then the sameness of Kleinveldt's style made you ring up search and rescue to find Lonwabo Tsotsobe whose left handed varieties would have been a lovely compliment to the attack.

Selections aside, an attack that in the pre match Allan Donald rated as the best South Africa has ever had was average to say the very least

Even if the pitch was substandard you still expected more from them!

Onto the batting.......

Day one it made you be in awe of it skill and adherence to traditional play with Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis being truly exquisite in every manner. Destroying the Aussies in the play on the ground and grinding them like Pepper in their minds.

Come Day 3 ( Day 2 lost to rain ) with the Aussies at their mercy, and you expecting them to see the new ball off and then dominate only for them to dither and defend and offer the Aussies a way back into the contest.

Going at under 3 an over despite the score board reading 284/2

If you did not have such respect for both the players you would be compelled to condemn them both as being selfish in their play and putting their averages before the Teams benefit.

When the Team collapsed losing 166/8 on a total road it gifted all the ascendancy to the Aussies with them feeling like they had just received a reprieve as they were being hooked into the electric chair

No where good enough from the Number 1 Test side in the World!

Team Rating
- 4/10- Terrible performance by the South Africans only spared scathing criticism by escaping with a draw.

Looking Forward 

The one thing that will grace all the South Africans with Cheshire Cat smiles is the fact that they were so average in this Test, and you know that they will redress this in the 2nd Test

J.P.Duminy's loss hit the team hard and crucially they need to get the Team right

Meaning this would be my 2nd Test Team

Petersen, Smith, Amla, Kallis, DeVilliers, Rudolph, Tsolekile (wk ), Philander, Steyn, Morkel, Tahir

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