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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Australia recover from disastrous start...after a fashion: First Test Day 1

Australia 9/341 (S Katich 83, M Clarke 62, A Symonds 57, B Haddin 46, M Ntini 3/66) v South Africa: First Test Day 1 at Perth.

Typical Perth conditions: a fast wicket, the sun shining and the Fremantle doctor kicking in, helped produce a most interesting day's Test cricket, in which the advantage swung from side to side.

At the end of the day honours were roughly even but notwithstanding their appalling start (3/15, including ducks from Ricky Ponting - first ball - and Mike Hussey) Australia would probably feel that they lost a couple of wickets more than they needed to.

The next lowest score was Mitchell Johnson's 18, yet nobody reached three figures. Simon Katich (83/151b, 7 x4, 1x6), Michael Clarke (62/141b, 7x4) and Andrew Symonds (57/68b, 6x4) all came to terms with the wicket and the South African bowling for long enough to promise more.

The Proteas seemed to lose direction as Katich and Clarke added 149 for the third wicket, but regrouped to dismiss them both in the space of 2 runs. Symonds and Brad Haddin (46/68b, 4x4, 2 x6) added a pugnacious 93 but a number of wickets fell to injudicious strokes, some of which were induced by good bowling.

Makhaya Ntini was especially impressive: after being driven effortlessly by Matthew Hayden in the first over he had both him and Ponting
caught in the slips soon after, and returned late in the day to dismiss Haddin, well caught in the deep by Jean-Paul Duminy, the debutant and late replacement for the injured Ashwell Prince. Paul Harris also bowled well into the breeze: some of the other spin bowlers who have appeared in Tests recently could learn a thing or two from him. Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel had their moments (Morkel more than Steyn) though Jacques Kallis was disappointng.

Tomorrow South Africa will bat. It will be interesting to see what kind of fist they make of the conditions and the relatively raw Australian attack.

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