Australia in SA

SA prosper on poignant day

2011-11-19 22:16
Hashim Amla (Gallo)
Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town - South Africa are several essential steps closer to their first home series victory over Australia in the post-apartheid era, fittingly after a day which saw tributes pour in to the late Basil D’Oliveira, one of the country’s most iconic cricketing figures.

“Dolly”, who died in England aged 80 after a brave, marathon battle with Parkinson’s disease, may have been exiled to and then represented that country in 44 Tests, but he was a product of the Bo Kaap here and shared a magical centre stage at Newlands with Graeme Pollock for the opening of the 2003 World Cup on our soil – it was an occasion many would have viewed as confirmation of a satisfying lid being placed on a divided past for the game in South Africa.

And he would doubtless have approved richly of the standout, undeniably “new South African” pair of Indian-descent Hashim Amla and Afrikaner AB de Villiers navigating the Proteas out of some early second-innings peril and nearer to at least not losing the Wanderers final Test and thus securing the series.

With two full days to go and the Proteas 199 runs ahead with an assuring seven wickets in hand, a pendulum that has swung wildly over the course of the two contests could yet retain its tendency for unpredictability, of course.

But most critics would concur that Graeme Smith’s team are significantly in the driving seat as things stand, with the priceless, unbeaten fourth-wicket alliance of 139 in almost 42 overs of calm authority at the crease between Amla and De Villiers giving South African enthusiasts welcome heart on a sombre Saturday in certain respects.

As an overdue, healthy crowd of some 16 000 at the Bullring also took keenly to the pink theme of a cancer awareness day, the South African dressing room would have been a more upbeat place, probably, than the tired away-team one after early stumps once again as dark Highveld clouds rumbled in.

The meteorological aspect is not unimportant because the match, and by extension mini-series, is slowly unravelling time-wise – and it is the Australians, 1-0 down, who quite obviously need to secure as much further time as possible against lengthening odds in their quest to level matters.

Michael Clarke and company will be looking nervously, then, at some weather forecasts which suggest at least fitful rain and mostly overcast skies over the ground on Sunday, and the greater prospect of major downpours on day five.

The best they can do, against that perturbing backdrop, is retain their cricket focus and hope they can manufacture the kind of middle- and lower-order batting collapse both prior innings in this Test have been characterised by.

It is getting close to that requirement for them -- only teenage thunderbolt Pat Cummins looks as if he may be capable of engineering the task to any great degree -- as the history of successful fourth-knock chases at Wanderers suggests they may otherwise be seeking a record total when they eventually bat again.

The very same Australia are the team who boast the prior best winning feat at the venue, getting to 294 for eight to beat the Proteas in early April 2006, completing a fine 3-0 sweep toward the end of their golden era.

The only survivors from that triumphant XI who should get another stab at a fairly similar requirement will be the seriously out-of-touch Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey, who got 89 on that occasion as a makeshift opener because Justin Langer was injured.

South Africa, meanwhile, will bank on Amla, who is closing in typically methodically on a 14th Test century and second really important second-dig one of the series, and De Villiers only continuing to push the Aussies toward the brink of series surrender.

They will know that there have been enough crazy fluctuations in this enthralling early-summer combat for nobody to confidently yet stake their house on either side prevailing in this fixture.

Both men brought a healthy dose of overdue, genuine Test-culture sanity back to batting proceedings at the Wanderers, looking more and more adhesive as day three wore on and choosing their scoring opportunities mostly very well.

The pitch is showing only rare hints – albeit strongly evident ones, when they do come – of influential break-up, so the remainder of the Proteas’ order must do everything they can to cash in before Australia are re-inserted.

Various factors, though, are conspiring to make the “equaliser” look less and less likely for the Baggy Greens.

Oops, having said that, maybe all South African supporters had better touch wood ...


What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

03 November 2016
Australia v South Africa, Perth 04:30
12 November 2016
Australia v South Africa, Hobart 01:30
24 November 2016
Australia v South Africa, Adelaide Oval 05:30
Previous Results

Date Match Result

Graeme Smith's shock decision to retire is...

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.