Australia in SA

Situation ideally set for Biff?

2011-11-10 22:03
Graeme Smith (Gallo Images)
Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town - So there the Proteas were ... humiliatingly set to follow on if, indeed, Australia would have opted to enforce that option.

Scorecard after Day 2

Video Highlights: Day 2

I wonder just how important it will turn out to be in the aftermath of a tumultuous cricket match that Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir eked out a last-wicket partnership of 13 for South Africa in their first innings to remove the luxury of that choice for the tourists on day two of the first Test at Newlands here?

There is every chance, I believe, that Michael Clarke would have asked the South Africans to take strike again, considering that they’d been bundled out in fewer than 25 overs and his bowlers were thus anything but out on their feet - and no doubt quite prepared to have a keen stab at the jugular.

Instead the Proteas were able to breathe again, rapidly take stock of their plight and then come out counter-punching.

And how!

Not in their wildest dreams would they have suspected that they’d flatten the Aussies for 47 in 18 overs of unrelenting chaos, at one stage threatening to rout them for the lowest Test total by any country since this great format began.

The “honour” still belongs to New Zealand, who blinked and found themselves all out for 26 in a 1955 Test against England at Auckland, although all of us at Newlands on Thursday seemed destined for a champagne “I was there” moment as the Aussie's slid to 21 for nine - yes, chew on that once more - at one stage.

I’m not sure whether you can quite brand it a face-saving occurrence, but the total somehow more than doubled in a last-wicket smack-about of 26 between Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon ... albeit still leaving this as a completed Test innings minus a solitary extra, just by way of further quirk.

But let’s cut through the nonsense and tumult now, shall we?

The day ended with the Proteas having made a riotously successful, under the circumstances, start to their victory pursuit of 236: they’d reached 81 for one in 17 overs, which only seemed to bear out the suspicion that the earlier lunacy was primarily man-made rather than attributable to serpents hissing unrelentingly in the track.

Whether South Africa “only” need a further 155 with nine wickets and three days remaining or require “as many as” 155 depends on your point of view after the ride through the tumble-drier.

Personally, I am beginning to sway toward the former school of thought ... and especially because South Africa’s veteran captain Graeme Smith is still at the crease and almost certainly relishing, as he always does, the chance to prevail against long odds in a fourth-innings scrap.

In the context of the topsy-turvy fixture, his respective personal scores of 37 and 36 not out well-nigh suggest a man in sublime form, but it is his appetite for “situation” - a la Edgbaston 2008 and a certain, series-clinching 154 not out - that is perhaps more relevant as we keenly await day three of this humdinger of strange sorts.

If “Biff” is still batting by lunchtime on Friday, you would think the Proteas are closing in quite nicely on their requirement.

Mind you, there is also a case for suggesting he could be standing there with the last man at the other end by then, such has been the schizophrenic state of affairs.

A mini-tragedy on dramatic days like Thursday’s is that it is possible to skim over certain individual achievements of great merit ... like debutant Vernon Philander’s feat for South Africa of securing a second-innings analysis of five for 15 and match figures of eight for 78.

He was urgent, penetrative and supremely motivated on day two, only building on a credible first day’s play as well, and has indisputably done as much he could to set up his country’s charge to what would be a superlative victory.

But carts must not be put before horses, must they?

Mike Hussey dropping Hashim Amla off the last ball of the day was only another example of this particular match plot being hazardously hard to read.

Tell you one thing for sure: there’s a great case for mischievously bunking work or school on Friday and getting down to good old Newlands or vegging out in front of the telly.

Seconds out ...

Read more on:    australia in sa  |  graeme smith
NEXT ON SPORT24X

Cool Cobras see off Knights

2014-10-22 23:08

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com 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
13 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

 

Red Bull Lionheart trail run - not for the fainthearted!

Entries are open, so what are you waiting for?

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Adventure holidays for your bucket list
Top 10 water sports to try before you die
6 impressive camping tips
LOL! The 8 stages of marathon running
Fixtures
23 October 2014
New Zealand v South Africa, Mount Maunganui 23:30
26 October 2014
New Zealand v South Africa, Hamilton 23:30
05 November 2014
Australia v South Africa, Adelaide Oval 10:35
Previous Results

Date Match Result
Vote

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

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Featured

Got something you'd like to get off your chest? Got a burning desire to air an opinion? If so, be sure to sign-up on Sport24's FORUM!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

Forum Have your Say on Sport24's brand new Forum!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

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