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I’m currently on vacation in New Zealand, so I haven’t been able to see as much of this first test as I’d like (that is, everything).
On the other hand, hardly anyone saw more than 40% of the expected play, so I should probably stop complaining and continue with my bulletin.
The one thing in Australian cricket that thrills people from Christchurch to Dunedin, Lake Tekapo to Queenstown is the Sydney Thunder playing for 15 in the Big Bash League.
A magnificent effort from the side of Green Sydney which, more than anything, gave cricket a new yardstick – a new context – for the sleeves.
For example, when Pat Cummins won the toss and sent South Africa to bat, we might have seen the Proteas manage just 152 before as a disappointing tally.
Now, in this new world, we can see that they have, in fact, scored more than one decaThunder!
A heroic performance.
Fighting with accountants
In response, David Warner was expelled from the first ball of the set by Kagiso Rabada, as expected. Then more strikes from Marco Jansen and Anrich Nortje put Australia in contention at 3/27.
But Steve Smith, rejuvenated in his stick (no doubt thanks to an all-new baggy green), and Travis Head, a man who’s never met a counter he didn’t want to attack (that includes most accountants), retaliated.
By the way, I found all the talk of “Smith’s new baggy green” disappointing on several levels:
1) Smith is no longer the captain, Cummins is.
2) Cam Green is not that baggy.
3) It’s not even that new.
4) It is also not appropriate to consider the great all-rounder as a possession of the skipper.
A lot of problems. Do better, guys.
The Bridge Painter’s Ball
A century-old partnership between Head and Smith was severed shortly before the stumps, sending Scott Boland into the crease.
A night watchman is the kind of thing that still infuriates a lot of people. “Certainly a tailor is even Following likely to come out! they will cry.
Well yes. But not all counters are created equal. If the risk of going out at the end of the day is slightly higher, you would prefer that risk to be directed to a less valuable hitter. That’s all a night watchman is.
It’s like when you paint the deck, you take off your tuxedo and put on some old clothes. Of course you don’t have to plan by getting Driftwood Gray Oil-Based Wood Deck Stain before heading to the Deck Painter’s Ball. But if it has to happen, it better happen to your old Bananarama tee.
Either way, Boland did his job to perfection, surviving the minimum number of bullets before being sent off in the final to send Australia into the stumps at 5/145, almost precisely half an inning from Sydney. Thunder late.
Have a sense of pleasure
Australia added a restless 73 to their total for the night at the start of Matchday 2, reaching 218 and setting up one of the best Test match situations.
One of the best things about Test cricket – an aspect ODIs, T20s and The Hundred can never dream of emulating – is the glorious spectacle of a team desperately scrambling to reach 66 to avoid a defeat in the round.
South Africa fell to pieces against not just a relentless Australian bowling attack, but a relentless pitch. Three times in the innings they lost three wickets in clusters – losing 3/2 when the score was 2, losing 3/1 when the score was 47 and 3/5 when the score was 64.
That third blitz came shortly after the tea break, with Cummins finding himself on a hat-trick. Commentators at the time suggested that Cummins deliveries were wasted on the tail. Maybe, but it’s not like he doesn’t have a seemingly endless amount of it.
Cummins being on a hat-trick opened the door for South African captain Dean Elgar to declare to the Australian captain. Of course, he would indeed concede the Test match, but, on the other hand, it would be revenge on behalf of Jack Leach, who was also denied a hat-trick in the Ashes last summer.
Alas, Elgar doesn’t really seem to be having fun. Shocking, I know.
And a good thing he doesn’t. Because a 30-run last-wicket partnership saw South Africa set up Australia’s most thrilling 34-run fourth-inning chase in Test cricket history.
Australia lost four wickets in the chase, seeing Warner, Usman Khawaja, Smith and Head fall to Rabada, before a partnership of byes and wides heroically combined to secure victory for Australia.
Perhaps the best summary of the test match was the post-match vision of Mitchell Starc being interviewed with his pads at the end of a 34-car chase.
Still, you know what they say: test the cricket in Queensland – beautiful one day, everywhere the next.