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Sunday, November 05, 2006

4 for 1, 5 for 12, but NSW still win

I almost had to eat humble pie today as SA for a time looked like trouncing NSW until a bold counterstroke by Stuart Clark (the bowling allrounder Australia has been looking for?) and Dominic Thornely saw the Blues home by two wickets.

This was after SA had moved from 2/103 to 267, a modest lead of 133. Mark Cosgrove, Cameron Borgas and the fine weather continued from where they left off yesterday but didn't take it as far as they might have, eventually being out for 94 and 72 respectively. Ferguson's 39 was handy but, as often with him, a few more would have helped.

The scoreboard in the photo reveals the facts of the final innings but says nothing about Clark's extraordinary batting, nor the ferocity of the SA opening bowlers Tait and Gillespie which saw each of the first four NSW batsmen dismissed for ducks (echoing Freddie Trueman's Test debut ), and the fifth for 7 to leave them 5/12, and then 6/46.

At that point Clark came to the wicket, no doubt apprehensive but buoyed by his 6/39 in SA's second innings (to add to his two first innings wickets and 25 handy first innings runs) and determined not to see his good work wasted. He and Thornely batted wisely, with the no.4 batsman giving the no.8 his head: there was no defensiveness nor any attempt to keep Thornley on strike.

Clark dared and won: 62 in 37 balls and 43 minutes (three 4s, four 6s). He was dropped off a straightforward catch in the outfield by Tait when 6, while Thornley should have been stumped when he was in the mid 20s. Both misses were off Bailey, who bowled better than his figures indicated and remained positive in the face of a hammering and the two misses.

Clark was eventually and inevitably caught in the outfield, while Nicholson hit a return catch to Bailey next ball. Tait returned, bowled short to Thornely who hit him for six to take NSW to victory with great panache.

It was a performance worth celebrating with some of the not out batsman's namesake's product, even though both sides had some poor performers. The pace bowling of both teams was top class: the two attacks would compare favourably with those of many if not most current test teams. The scorecard is here.

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