Smith praises Aussie effort

2011-11-21 18:57

Johannesburg - South Africa's captain Graeme Smith has lauded Australia's effort after they successfully chased down the highest winning fourth innings score at the Wanderers to level the two-Test series.

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"We both threw a lot of punches but we've ended level again," Smith said. "To chase 310, their guys stepped up. It's wonderful to see cricket played like this."

Tailenders Mitchell Johnson and 18-year-old debutant Pat Cummins dragged Australia to a gutsy win in a scintillating finish.

Australia clawed their way to 310-8 in fading light on the final day for a nailbiting and record-breaking two-wicket win. The victory saw Australia draw the two-match contest and salvage a 41-year unbeaten run in Test series in South Africa.

The fierce rivals provided another rollercoaster ride in the dying stages of the match as South Africa dismissed Brad Haddin for 55 and then Peter Siddle (4) to have the tourists 292-8 and pile intense pressure on teenage No 10 Cummins and Johnson.

In a stunning finish, Cummins narrowly survived an lbw appeal and then hit a four next ball to take Australia home.

Mitchell Johnson finished 40 not out in a matchwinning role with the bat after he had faced huge criticism throughout the five days for his misfiring bowling form.

Veterans Haddin and Ricky Ponting, who made 62 in Australia's second innings, also responded to harsh criticism to perform when it counted and ensure Australia - against the odds - have still not lost a series in South Africa since 1970.

"We've had some ups and downs in this series," captain Michael Clarke said, referring to Australia's 47 all out in their spectacular loss in the first Test in Cape Town. "I couldn't be happier with this result. Mitchell was outstanding, Pat Cummins was fantastic."

In a nerve-jangling climax to a series that delivered on all its promises beforehand to be exciting and closely fought, leg-spinner Imran Tahir had a close appeal against Cummins turned down second ball from the end as South Africa made one final, desperate push.

Cummins pulled the next ball through midwicket and to the boundary to play a pivotal and man of the match-winning role in one of Australia's finest Test wins in his first match.

The teenager also took 6-79 in South Africa's second innings, the best bowling debut by an Australian in Tests. He was the second-youngest player to take six wickets in a Test innings.

"A little bit nervous when I came in," Cummins said of his innings. "But Johnno (Johnson) said 'keep a clear head'. This, as a Test match debut, has been unbelievable."

South Africa were expected to close out victory in the final Test for a 2-0 series whitewash after setting the tourists a daunting 310 to win the match and save the series. No team had made more than 294 at Wanderers in the fourth innings to win a Test before.

The Proteas also had Australia 19-2 in their chase before Usman Khawaja (65) and Ponting played key early roles in the memorable fightback with a 122-run stand.

Even then, Ponting fell early on Monday after adding only eight to his overnight score - and after a three-hour rain delay added more drama - leaving Australia on 165-5 and way off victory.

Mike Hussey (39) and Haddin put together a 50-run partnership before tea, Haddin and Johnson combined for an attacking 72 run-stand and Cummins kept his nerve in grinding pressure at the end.

Vernon Philander took 5-70 for South Africa, including key breakthroughs to remove Hussey and Haddin. But Australia kept coming to save the series with a fighting final-day display that ranks as one of cricket's finest wins.


  • Gareth - 2011-11-21 19:44

    I don't wanna sound disrespectful to Kallis in any way,shape or form because the guy is immense and truly phenomenal for what he'd done for South African cricket,but is there a very strong reason why Gary and Allan Donald still keep him in our team.Kallis is 36 and good with the bat and the slips but his not getting any younger and has slid back in taking game changing wickets for us,so why can't someone else step up the mark and take his position?Are we out of Kallis' type of calibre players let standing in South Africa that we don't have any geniune allrounders to call on? Australia is a team rebuilding and on Thursday or Friday this week the Australian selection committee helds it meeting in which either Ricky Ponting,Brad Haddin,Mitchell Johnson,Phil Hughes or Micheal Hussey will all to be dropped apparently for their the two-Test series against New Zealand to make way for good players from the Western Australian Cricket Association. So why can't South Africa rebuild a new team for the Sri Lanka series next month?Why can't we bring in Lonwabo Tsotsobe in place of Morne Morkel as we don't have a left arm pace bowler in the team and who knows he might do for us what Zaheer Khan did for India.And perhaps give Heino Kuhn a chance with the gloves insted of inconsistent with the bat Mark Boucher! Australia believed at one time that they were the only team with good players in it and were ruled by what was known as new professionalism.They will never be a hopeless team.

  • Robs - 2011-11-21 19:59

    Yea, Smith. It will help if you can start batting a decent score in EVERY innings.

      Stephen - 2011-11-21 20:03

      Not even Tendulkar scores run every innings. Geez get real

      Renny - 2011-11-21 20:29

      I thought it was an awesome match regardless who won. These two countries always put up a fight right to the bitter end. Thank you Sa & thank you Aus, brilliant!

  • Martin - 2011-11-21 20:11

    Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory...the SA story.

      Stephen - 2011-11-21 20:21

      Oh really, thats odd, I thought they won at Newlands from a ridiculous position. I guess I imagined the whole thing.

  • Lodewyk - 2011-11-21 20:11

    Captain Joker and his Chokers>

      Stephen - 2011-11-21 20:23

      Wow so original, I have never heard that before. Where can I see your act. What original material. I am a talent scout and would like to sign you up.

  • Edward - 2011-11-21 20:11

    The loss might be a good wake up call for Hudson & Kirsten to replace Boucher with Daryn Smit, either Smith or Rudolph with Richard Levi, Prince with Jean-Paul Duminy and maybe even Kallis with Faf du Plessis for the Sri Lanka Tour

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