Proteas in Australia

Proteas were stodgy, but...

2012-11-26 22:09
Faf du Plessis (AP)

Cape Town - South Africa’s heroic stone-walling initiative to save the second Test against Australia at Adelaide on Monday may have been unusually laboured from a run-tempo point of view, but was still some way off threatening records in that regard.

And if any frustrated Aussie tells you the fifth day’s play was like watching paint dry, quickly remind him or her that their country was involved in both of the top two instances of fewest runs in a full day’s play.

The Proteas, led by assured Faf du Plessis and his unbeaten century on debut, including occupation of the crease for all of day five, posted 171 runs in 98 overs on Monday - not exactly the stuff Twenty20 fans’ dreams would be made of - for the loss of four wickets.

Australia v South Africa 2nd Test Day 5 Highlights

But that still leaves them well outside the top 10 for slowest completed days in the most traditional form of the game, especially as Morné Morkel upped the tempo “dramatically” by striking successive fours in Peter Siddle’s final over of the match.

In each instance Aussie fielders let the ball trickle to the ropes when it could have been stopped, because they wanted to keep the less-fancied man on strike, but Morkel held his nerve to secure the draw anyway.

The most tedious day ever came in Karachi in 1956/57, when the Aussies limped their way to 80 all out against Pakistan on the first day, and the host nation replied with 15 for two before the close: 95 runs in total.

Karachi had the dubious distinction not long afterwards (1959/60) of earning second place as Pakistan registered 104 runs on the fourth day’s play, also against Australia.

There are two instances of South Africa being involved in “top tenners” on the funereal list, and both have come in the post-isolation era, interestingly enough.

In fourth place was the 1992/93 New Year Test at Newlands between Kepler Wessels’s recently re-admitted SA side and India, which was notoriously low-tempo throughout.

On the fifth day of the tedious final-Test draw, 111 runs were scored, as the home team inched their way from 48 for two to 130 for six declared (97 overs eaten up for that second innings) and the Indians, 1-0 down and nominally set 215 to win with no chance of getting there, shook hands after getting to 29 for one.

The Kingsmead faithful were “lucky” enough to witness the game that occupies 10th place for slowest day ... England crawled to 135 for two in 85 overs (peculiarly on day one when they weren’t even surrendering wickets at a rate of knots) in 1999/2000.

In another statistical quirk from the Adelaide Test, cricket website has indicated that AB de Villiers, who played a key support role to Du Plessis in the shut-out campaign, has posted at least 150 runs on every previous occasion where he has faced the number of balls (220) he got in the SA second innings.

Here he was extraordinarily restrained, given the circumstances, as he only got 33 runs at a decidedly un-De Villiers-like strike rate of 15.

Avid Test-lovers, and particularly those partial to the Proteas on Monday, will insist that there can be beauty and great satisfaction in a day of grim resilience.

This was one of them.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


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