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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kiwis unable to turn dominant position into winning one

New Zealand 8/619 dec (154.4 ov, J Ryder 201, R Taylor 151,B McCullum 115,D Vettori 55, T Franklin 52) drew with India 305 (93.5 ov, R Dravid 83, VVS Laxman 76) and 4/476 dec(180 ov, G Gambhir 137, Laxman 124*, S Tendulkar 64, Yuvraj Singh 54*): T#2 at Napier.

I watched a lot of this game on TV (some but, despite the promotional puff, not all of which was shown live on Foxtel).

The match initially shaped like an Indian walkover as NZ, batting first, slumped to 3/23. Then a sometimes shaky Ross Taylor 151/ 204 b [26x4. 1 x6], and a more assured Jesse Ryder added 271 for the 4th wicket.

Nor did the revival stop there, as many observers of NZ cricket might have expected. Ryder added 121 for the 5th wicket with James Franklin, then another 62 for the 6th with Brendon McCullum before he was bowled for 201/328b [24x1, 1x 6]. 6/477.

And there was more. The next wicket didn't fall until the total had passed 600. McCullum, who notched his first Test century, a characteristically belligerent 115/140b [13x4] (only the absence of sixes was out of character), added 128 with Daniel Vettori before, mirroring the start of the innings 3 quick wickets fell until the declaration came at 9/619.

India's reply was lacklustre. 5 of the big 6 (Yuvraj Singh was the exception) got a start but the NZ bowlers worked their way through the batting. When Rahul Dravid was out for 83/206 (12x4) the tail didn't wag as the score plummeted from 4/246 to 305 all out.

With time slipping by NZ had no option but to enforce the follow on. Only Chris Martin had bowled more than 20 overs in the India first innings so the Black Caps looked a likely prospect for an unlikely win.

Yet it didn't happen. India rarely looked as if they wouldn't save the match. They plodded to 4/476 from 180 overs before play was called off. Gautam Gambhir (137/436b [18x4])and VVS Laxman (124*/ 212 [25x4]) made centuries while Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj each passed 50. The NZ bowlers tried but the pitch didn't break up as they must have hoped.

Once again the Black Caps couldn't maintain their momentum for long enough to secure a win. They will be pleased at their showing against a strong opponent, but underneath they must be disappointed. If the match had been played out to a finish India might well have won. (That's enough speculation for now.)

Scorecard

Monday, March 23, 2009

Johnson's heroics not enough to conceal Australia's weaknesses

At Cape Town South Africa 651 defeated Australia 209 and 422 (M Johnson 123*, A McDonald 68, S Katich 54, P Harris 6/127) by an innings and 20 runs: T#3 D5.

After D1 the game never looked like going down to either the wire or D5: on D4 the chief statistical interest was whether Australia could avoid an innings defeat.

It didn't, despite Mitchell Johnson's impressive, though on the evidence of his recent batting not entirely unexpected, 123*/ 103b [11x4, 5x6].

Andrew McDonald's 68/99b [8x4] at last demonstrated that he can score runs at top level (though his hitherto stronger suit- bowling - didn't take many tricks in this match). Paul Harris kept plugging away and, in contrast to Australia, there were really weak links in the attack. 422 was a creditable fourth innings performance, but there are several questions (most notably whether the eleven needs a specialist spin bowler) which need to be confronted and ideally answered, before the Ashes series.

Scorecard

Sunday, March 22, 2009

NZ down, Australia likely to follow

At Hamilton India 520 and 0/39 defeated New Zealand 279 and 279 (B McCullum 84, D Flynn 67, Harbhajan Singh 6-63) by 10 wickets: T#1 D4.

Only some late resistance by Brendan McCullum, supported by Daniel Vettori and Iain O'Brien made India bat again

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At Cape Town South Africa 651 (154.3 ov, AB de Villiers 163/313b [12x4,7x6],A :Prince 150/249b [19x4, 2x6], J Kallis 102/163b [14x4, 2x6], M Johnson 4/148, S Katich 2/9 continue to dominate Australia 209 and 2/102 (36 ov): T#3, D3


Jacques Kallis did not add to his overnight score and JP Duminy did not stay long, but AB de Villiers , with some help from Albie Morkel and Paul Harris, built South Africa to a formidable 651. Simon Katich's left arm chinamen dismissed the prolific if weary deVilliers for 163 and Dale Steyn for a duck. His analysis of 3- 1 - 9 - 2 contrasted with Bryce McGain's 18-2-149-0 and raised several questions about Ricky Ponting's management of his bowlers.

Australia's second batting effort has so far been better, yet not that much better, than its first, but 2/102 is a shaky platform for chasing another 340. Expect the match to finish in four days.

Scorecard


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Now two no contests as S Africa wallop Australia and India hold NZ in check.

At Cape Town South Africa easily overtook Australia's weak 209 and advanced imperiously to 3/404 (102 ov) : T#3 D2

Reluctant opener Ashwell Prince with 150/249b [19x4, 2x6], and veteran Jacques Kallis 102*/147b [14x4, 2 x6], his 31st Test century, powered the Proteas to a position where Australia looks incapable of winning and probably, even after two days, not able to draw.

Unfortunately the debutant legspinner Bryce McGain was the weakest link in the Australian attack. At the moment his analysis is 11-2-102-0. The two maiden overs attest to his potential but the other nine for 102 reflect the number of full tosses and long hops which intermingled with some looping deliveries which induced some defensive strokes. The hammering recalled the harsh treatment meted out to another legspinner on his Test debut. On the other hand Peter Siddle's 23-12-35-1 kept one end tight for much of the day and may. just, have kept Australia in with an outside chance of a draw.

Scorecard

At Hamilton New Zealand 279 and 3/75 (31 ov) continued to struggle against India who batted on to reach 520 (152.4 ov, S Tendulkar 160/260b, G Gambhir 72, R Dravid 66, Z Khan 51*) : T#1 D3

The gulf between the two teams, some honourable individual exceptions apart, is palpable. India must be fancying their chances of an innings victory.

Scorecard

Friday, March 20, 2009

Two Tests, one contest?

Australia 209 (72 ov, S Katich 55, D Steyn 4/56, P Harris 3/34) v South Africa 0/57 (14 ov): T#3 D1 at Cape Town

South Africa, despite some pre match internal rumblings about who should bat where and some bumbling in the field when Australia batted, regrouped to gain the ascendancy.

Bryce McGain replaced Marcus North, a late withdrawal, in the eleven, so Australia took the field in Cape Town with an unbalanced side. Once again in this series the opening stand proved to be a false dawn as wickets fell: 1/58, 2/59, 3/81, 4/81, with both both and vice captain making ducks. There were some modest revivals, the tail didn't wag and the South African bowling, including the oft damned with faint praise Paul Harris, kept the pressure on and prevented a major recovery by the middle and lower order. Simon Katich's 55/160b (7x4) provided a solid foundation for what turned out to be a shoddy innings structure

Imraan Khan, on debut, and Ashwell Prince, a reluctant opener if the leaks from the dressing room are even partly true, looked an experienced and effective opening pair. It didn't help that Mitchell Johnson was below his bowling best, but Australia will need to do a lot to get back into into the match.

Scorecard


There is still a contest in Cape Town, unlike in Hamilton, where India 4/278 (90.5 ov, S Tendulkar 70*, G Gambhir 72, R Dravid 66 ) are well on top against New Zealand who thanks to a brace of centuries cfrom Daniel Vettori and Jesse Ryder recovered from 6/60 to 279 ( 78.2 ov, Vettori 118/196b {14x4 2x6}, Ryder 102/ 162b {14x4}, I Sharma 4/73): T#1 D2.

Scorecard .

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sheffield Shield final winds up domestic season

I've been watching the final of the Sheffield Shield. Victoria dominated throughout, secured a reasonable first innings total (510 is barely par for these 5 day attritional contests) then bowled Queensland out for 200. Disappointed as the Bulls would have been this was at least an improvement on their 506 run first innings deficit against Victoria a week before.

Both sides went through the motions of a second innings but the game, which the Bulls needed to win to knock the Bushrangers off their unbeaten perch, fizzled out. Perhaps Martin Love , the last man standing of the side which first won the shield for Queensland , thought otherwise, though his apparel (inc at least two shirts, sunhat and cap, as the photo above shows) gave the Fox Sports commentators something to talk about in the slow passages.

Victoria deserved to win, even though the Bulls had three key players (Ashley Noffke, Ryan Harris and Chris Swan) unavailable because of injury. The Bushrangers' talent pool was deep enough to cover international call ups to Andrew McDonald and Bryce McGain: they were able to omit a recent England Test player .

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During the telecast Fox Sports interleafed some archival footage, including some of the last time South Australia won the Shield by hanging on for a draw against Western Australia, who were on top throughout. I was there and remember the tension building as the last few South Australians hung on grimly as the April light faded. (Interesting to note that only Mike Hussey of the 22 players in that match is still playing).

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ponting fears for future of Tests

Cricinfo reports that Ricky Ponting fears for the future of Test cricket

The Australia captain Ricky Ponting has warned of a "really dangerous" future for Test cricket. "I gave the Bradman Oration last year and I stated that what I want for the next generation of Australians is to do what I've done: play 150 Tests and represent their country for a long time," Ponting told the Wisden Cricketer. "But something in the back of my head says that their focus could switch from that to being attracted by the glitz and glamour of Twenty20 and the money that might be around."

A survey conducted by the Australian Cricketers' Association found that the majority of centrally-contracted players were not convinced that representing Australia will be the pinnacle of their sport in a decade. The results appeared to confirm Ponting's statements.

Further details are here:

A surprising 20 percent of Cricket Australia's 25-man contract list said that the baggy green cap would not be Australian cricket's ultimate accolade in ten years, while another 33 percent were unsure. Additionally, 47 percent of Australia's elite cricketers rated "balancing playing for your country and competing in the new T20 competitions" as the most urgent issue facing world cricket.

That topic came comfortably ahead of "volume of cricket for your country" (33 percent), "playing conditions" (13 percent) and "ICC governance" (7 percent). Sixty percent also said they would have consciously tailored their games "to the demands of Twenty20 to take advantage of future earning potential", were they still at the beginning of their careers.

The survey results appear to confirm what has long been touted: the financial rewards of the twenty-over game will, for many players, prove more enticing than the prospect of national selection.

To a cricket traditionalist like me this is disappointing. Yet even I acknowledge that, in the current IPL fuelled environment, it is hardly surprising.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Further tales of two Tests #5

Test(s) Day 4 x2

At Durban Australia 352 and 5/331 dec defeated South Africa 138 and 370 ( JKallis 93, AB de Villiers 84, P Siddle 3-61, S Katich 3-45) 2nd Test D5
.

At Port of Spain England 6/546 dec and 6/237 dec (38.4 ov, K Pietersen 102, M Prior 61 ) drew with West Indies 544 and 8/114 (65.5 ov, G Swann 21-13-13-3 , J Anderson 16-7-24-3) 5th Test D5

After their stout resistance on D4 South Africa disappointed. By losing 7/126 (Graeme Smith did not bat) to an Australian attack whose key members - Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus -motivated themselves for one more hard day's persistence, they threw in the towel.

The lowest score from the Smithless top 6 was JP Duminy's 17. Yes, the Durban pitch did play a few more tricks and the quick bowlers
were well supported by occasional spinners Simon Katich and Marcus North, who took a combined 4/81 from 31.2 overs, but the Proteas, as in T1 at Jo'burg, disappointed.

Australia are now deservedly 2-0 up, something at the start of the series I wouldn't have thought possible

Scorecard .

At Port of Spain two quickfire innings,Kevin Pietersen's 102/92b (9x4, 1x6) and Matt Prior's 61/49b (8x4) propelled England to 6/237 before Andrew Strauss declared (IMO too late). This didn't leave England quite enough time to take 10 West Indies second innings wickets, well as James Anderson 16-7-24-3, Graeme Swann 21-13-13-3 and Monty Panesar 19.5-9-34-2 bowled on a pitch which turned many good length deliveries into grubbers;

Matt Prior was given the player of the match award, He certainly batted well in each innings but conceding 52 byes, not to mention some missed catches, during the match should have counted against him. Or is the modern wicketkeeper a batter first and a keeper second (or third...)?

Scorecard

Lawrence Booth in The Guardian has a report card on the England team performances in the series.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Further tales of two Tests#4



At Durban Australia 352 and 5/331 dec (94.4 ov ov, P Hughes 160, R Ponting 81) v South Africa
138 and 2/244 (80 ov, J Kallis 84*, AB de Villiers 68*) Test #2 D4

At Port of Spain England 6/546 dec and 3/80 (15 ov) v West Indies 544 (178.4 ov, S Chanderpaul 147*, B Nash 109 ,C Gayle 102 , S Broad 3/67, G Swann 3/131) Test #5 D4

South Africa need another 302 runs with 8 wickets in hand to bring off an unlikely victory at Durban. The likelihood of them doing so, or at least holding out for a draw, has increased since they began to chase 546.

Australia batted on for a short time today, during which Phillip Hughes advanced to 160/323b (15x4, 3x6) before being dismissed.

Neil McKenzie and Hashim Amla provided a reasonable foundation for the South African chase, but the really impressive work was done by Jacques Kallis 84*/161b (11x4) and AB deVilliers 68*/166b (7x4). The Australian frontline pace bowlers are tiring, Andrew McDonald has looked ordinary, and while Marcus North has bowled economically he hasn't looked like taking a wicket. Some of Simon Katich's left arm wrist spinners were more hittable but others looked threatening on the increasingly benign pitch.

Durban has a tradition of pitches holding up over a long time: it is now 70 years to the day(s) of the 1939 South Africa - England test which was left drawn on the ninth scheduled (eighth actual playing) day so that the England team could catch their ship home.

Australia may regret dropping Kallis at slip from the first ball he faced, and it won't be a surprise to see Graeme Smith come to the crease if he feels that circumstances warrant.


Scorecard

At Port of Spain a draw looks likely after the West Indies took their first innings total to within two of England's.

Brendan Nash's 109/257b (17x4 - most of them on the off side) was his maiden Test century. He agonised on 99 for what must have been more than half an hour. Shivnarine Chanderpaul accelerated today to compile an impressive 147*/361b (13x4,1x6). Stuart Broad bowled well in the later stages but the others found the pitch didn't give them the fourth day assistance they'd wished for.

England are only 78 ahead: it's hard to see ten Windies wickets falling on day 5, even if England rocket ahead in the first session before declaring.

Scorecard

Monday, March 09, 2009

Further tales of two Tests#3



At Durban Australia 352 and 3/292 (87 ov, P Hughes 136*, R Ponting 81)v South Africa
138 (57.3 ov, J P Duminy 73*, M Johnson 3/37, A McDonald 3/25). Test #2 Day 3

At Port of Spain England 6/546 dec (158.5 ov, A Strauss 142, P Collingwood 161, M Prior 131*) v West Indies 4/349 (109 ov, C Gayle 100 ret hurt, B Nash 70*, S Chanderpaul 52*) Test # 5 Day 3

Australia in the person of Peter Siddle bowled three balls to South Africa at the start of the day's play at Durban. These were sufficient to take the last two wickets (Graeme Smith remained retired hurt ) without addition to the total.

Australia then batted for 87 overs and lost three wickets for 292. :Phil Hughes scored his second century of the match and became the youngest Test cricketer to do so: he knuckled down and looked even more resolute than he'd done in the first innings. Ricky Ponting played at almost his best for 81/189b (12x4) - almost because he was caught in the deep off his trademark pull shot.

Australia's lead is almost insurmountable, even for a team like the Proteas who have recent form in chasing down large fourth innings totals. The rest of the game looks like becoming something between an attritional battle and a one sided collapse.

Scorecard

At Port of Spain England wrested back some of the initiative when they had the West Indies 4 (probably 5 because Chris Gayle had retired hurt) for 203. Then the left handers Shivnarine Chanderpaul 52*/163b (3x4) and Brendan Nash 70*/167b (12x4) kept their side in the game with an unbroken partnership of 146 for the fifth wicket. The England attack bowled steadily, with Monty Panesar producing more variety than he's done for some time and without a lot of good fortune. Yet they didn't look running through their opponents, despite claiming Ramnaresh Sarwan's wicket cheaply for the first time in the series.

The Windies have only to draw to win the series 1-0. They will therefore be more than happy with a draw. England, despite some professions of optimism eg by Stuart Broad in a post play interview on TV, will need to lift a couple of notches to obtain the result which eluded them in Antigua.

Scorecard




Sunday, March 08, 2009

Further tales of two Tests#2


At Durban Australia 352 ( 107.4 ov, P Hughes 115 ,S Katich 108, M Hussey 50, D Steyn 3/83) v South Africa 7/138 (57 ov, J P Duminy 73*, M Johnson 3/37, A McDonald 3/25) Test #2 Day 2

At Port of Spain England 6/546 dec (158.5 ov, A Strauss 142, P Collingwood 161, M Prior 131*) v West Indies 1/92 (19 ov) Test #5 Day 2

An extraordinary day of fluctuating fortunes in Durban saw South Africa regroup and dismiss Australia, who reached 329 before the fifth wicket fell, for 352. When the Proteas batted Mitchell Johnson took two wickets - Neil McKenzie and Hashim Amla - in his first over, and removed Graeme Smith with a broken finger in his second. Ben Hilfenhaus had A B de Villiers lbw in his third over, leaving the opposition in tatters at 3/6 (effectively 4/6 as Smith will play no further part in the match). Across both innings 9 wickets, by no means all tailenders, went down for 29 runs.

Jacques Kallis retired hurt at 56, shortly before Johnson bowled Boucher neck and crop. J P Duminy played a classy lone hand while Andrew McDonald's accuracy accounted for another three, including Kallis who was clearly out of sorts when he returned.

At the end of the day South Africa on 7/138 must have been bitterly disappointed with their batting. Yes the bowling, especially Johnson's, was very good (how long before Australia will field a spinner again?) and it's a cruel blow for any team to lose two of its top six batters injured, yet only Duminy of the fit four pulled his weight.

Scorecard

In Port of Spain England added 258 against a generally moderate West Indies attack. After Fidel Edwards, again the exception who proves the rule (or my opinion), removed Andrew Strauss, who barely added to his overnight score, for 142/271b (11x4), Paul Collingwood 161/288b (12x4) and new father Matt Prior 131*/198b (12 x 4) led the way as their team trotted to 6/546.

The West Indies collapse which England supporters must have hoped for did not eventuate. It took the fifth bowler used - Monty Panesar - to take the only wicket, with what looked to my early morning bleary eyes like a straight one which Devon Smith misread. But, as the South African bowlers showed, tomorrow is another day.

Scorecard

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Further tales of two Tests: RSA v Aus, WI v Eng D1



At Durban Australia 4/303 ( 89 ov, P Hughes 115 ,S Katich 108) v South Africa: Test #2 D1

At Port of Spain England 2/258 (90 ov, A Strauss 139*, P Collingwood 54*) v West Indies: Test #5 D1

Test cricket resumed in the shadow of the Lahore attack, which is still attracting media comment and analysis eg Peter Roebuck in today's Age .

In both matches the batting side is on top. Australia might feel that they've relinquished some of the advantage they'd gained with an opening partnership of 184. Phillip Hughes's 115/151b (19x4, 2 x 6) and Simon Katich's 108/190b (6x4) were outstanding innings, with few false strokes and many brilliant ones, none more so than the two sixes hit by Hughes from consecutive balls in Paul Harris's ninth over, which took him from 93 to 105.

Scorecard

England would have been pleased with their efforts, and delighted with Andrew Strauss's 139/261b (11x4). Their selection of five front line bowlers (versus the West Indies' three) shows that the real contest is yet to begin.

Scorecard

More on referrals

The Fox Sports website has a brace of good posts about referrals.

The first is a guide All you need to know about referrals

Excerpt:

Interpretation of Laws

When using technology to determine where the ball pitched (as per Law 36.1(b)), the TV umpire should refer to the “point” (or centre) of the ball. Therefore if at least 50 per cent of the ball pitches outside the line of leg stump, then no lbw dismissal is possible.

When using technology to determine the point of impact (as per Law 36.1 (d)), if ANY part of the ball is intercepted between wicket and wicket, then the point of impact is deemed to have been between wicket and wicket.

When using a replay to determine the moment at which the wicket has been put down (as per Law 28.1), the TV umpire should deem this to be the first frame in which one of the bails is shown (or can be deduced) to have lost ALL contact with the top of the stumps.

It is daft to use the "point" (centre) of the ball to determine where the ball pitches. If the pad is not involved the ball doesn't need to hit the stumps full on: as long as it clips one enough to dislodge a bail the batter will be out.

The second Cricket referrals: the great debate continues... includes a link to a video of the Jacques Kallis lbw which was overruled (or whatever the official term is) by the TV umpire. Worth a look if you've not seen it before.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Not cricket

Today's terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore is a sad day for the world and for cricket lovers.

As I post details are still emerging. No cricketers or support staff have been reported killed, though several police have. My condolences to all their families and friends.

For a sample of reports see news.com.au , the ABC , the Times Online . [These may be updated after I've posted these links].

Even the New York Times , which rarely mentions cricket, has given the matter some prominence.

The most comprehensive coverage I've seen so far is CNN's.

Tales of three Tests : one result, one dull draw, another likely

At Johannesburg Australia 466 and 207 defeated South Africa 220 and 291 (119.2 0vers, G Smith 69, H Amla 57, M Johnson 4/112, P Siddle 3/46) by 162 runs: T#1 D5.

South Africa couldn't endure against a tight, if not always threatening, Australian attack. The margin of victory was substantial though it took until the final session for it to be achieved. Fortunately the rain and bad light held off long enough for justice to be done.

I was expecting the Proteas to continue batting assertively as they'd done on D4, but they played a watchful waiting game, hoping for a draw, and seemingly not caring about pushing for victory if the situation later in the day allowed. This inertia, reminiscent of the 1950s and 60s, allowed the Australian bowlers to shut things down and to capitalise on some uneven bounce from the pitch and batter errors.

Well as Mitchell Johnson 4/112, Peter Siddle 3/46 and and Ben Hilfenhaus 2/68 bowled it was Andrew McDonald's 22-8-31-1 which underlined the timidity of the South Africans. McDonald bowls straight but batsmen with as much limited overs experience as the Proteas' top seven should not have allowed him to dictate terms like this.


Scorecard

At Bridgetown England 6/600 dec and 2/279 (81 0v, A Cook 139*, K Pietersen 72*) drew with West Indies 9/749 dec: Test #4, D5

As expected, a draw. Expect some media comment about the blandness of the pitch.

Scorecard

At Lahore Sri Lanka 606 (151 ov, T Samaraweera 214, T Dilshan 145, K Sangakkara 104, Umar Gul 6/135) v Pakistan 1/110 (23.4 ov,Khurram Manzoor 59*) Test #2 D4

This one has "draw" written all over it.

Scorecard

Referrals

In Jo'burg today there was further confusion about the referral system when a decision of Umpire Bowden's was overturned (or however it's described) by the TV umpire.

Here's the Cricinfo version:

80.1 Johnson to Kallis, no run, Referral: 136.2 kph, the ball pitches just outside the line of the legstump and shoots through very low, kallis is caught at the crease and the ball hits him plumb in front of the stumps, he rightfully challenges Bowden's verdict, if the ball pitches outside leg you can't give it out and the decision is reversed, loud cheers follow. [My emphasis added]

I watched the replay several times and am not convinced that the ball pitched "outside the line of the legstump". Some of it was clearly on or inside the line. And I'm not sure where "the line" (which is available to everyone except the umpire who makes the initial decision) runs: from the inside or outside edge of the leg stump. Just how much needs to be "inside the line" is a moot point, but certainly one which the legislators should have anticipated .As I understand them, the rules applying to TV replays in tennis are much easier to understand and hence to apply.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Tales of two Tests #4: one close finish?

2 x First Test(s), Day 4

At Johannesburg: Australia 466 and 207 (53.4 ov, P Hughes 75, J Kallis 3/22, M Ntini 3/52) v South Africa 220 and 2/178 (55ov, G Smith 69. H Amla 43*)

In yet another second-half-of-match resurgence South Africa have bowled Australia out cheaply, despite Phil Hughes' assertive 75/121b, and begun to chase 454 in a manner which must have given them reason to believe that they can win. The Australians are still notionally in the better position, but so much of their D4 batting was inept and their bowling non-threatening that they, and the viewers at home who have been bombarded by Fox Sports' continual reminders of the Proteas' fourth innings 4/414 to win the Perth Test last December, probably have the collywobbles.

Give due credit though to South Africa though for bowling so well, especially Jacques Kallis's game changing 3 (Ponting. Hussey, Clarke)/22 from 5 overs, and to the batters for setting out on their long journey without appearing to be overawed by the size of their task.

The first session of D5 will possibly decide the outcome: you won't be surprised to learn that I'll be glued to the box.

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At Bridgetown: England 6/600 dec and 0/6 (2 ov) v West Indies 9/749 dec (194.4 ov, R Sarwan 291, D Ramdin 166, S Chanderpaul 70, D Smith 55, J Taylor 53, G Swann 5/165, J Anderson 3/125 )

A draw is by far the likeliest outcome here after Ramnaresh Sarwan's massive 291/452b (30x4, 2x6), Dinesh Ramdin's impressive (and a tad surprising after his recent form) 166/268b (20x4) and some solid contributions from others gave the home side a 149 run first innings lead.
Scorecard


For the record, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are also playing a Test match at the moment. It's receiving little coverage here (why can't Foxtel show at least some highlights?) so the easiest way to keep abreast of developments is to follow the scorecard and related matter on Cricinfo.


Sunday, March 01, 2009

Tales of two Tests #3: RSA v Aus, WI v Eng

2 x First Test(s), Day 3

At Johannesburg: Australia 466 and 1/51 (16.3 ov) v South Africa 220 (37 ov, A B de Villiers 104*, M Johnson 4/25, P Siddle 3/76)

At Bridgetown: England 6/600 dec v West Indies 5/398 (109ov, R Sarwan 184*, S Chanderpaul 70, D Smith 55, G Swann 3/92 )

It was Australia's day again at Jo'burg. South Africa, A B de Villiers excepted, could neither get on top of the inexperienced Australian attack nor capitalise on some fielding lapses.

Mitchell Johnson's 18.1 - 7 - 25 - 4 has put him well ahead of the field in the contest for Player of the Match. His only challengers to date look like A B de Villiers
, who'd need to repeat his doggedly combative lone hand 104/185b (9x4, 1 x6) in the second innings, or Marcus North, who's showed his batting class and bowling potential.

At the other end of the performance scale both teams' batting was uneven. Six Australians contributed 16 runs out of 466, while six Proteas contributed only 5!

Australia are unquestionably on top, though South Africa's recent history of second innings recoveries and the threatening weather which curtailed play today, may make it harder to translate the present scorecard advantage into a victory.

Scorecard

Rose early to watch the Windies fight their way back from 3/159 at Barbados. Ramnaresh Sarwan's masterful 184*/280b (19x4, 2x6) which was well supported by his teammates (only one of whom has so far not posted double figures) has saved the follow on (well, 2 runs are needed but 5 wickets are in hand) and thereby increased the likelihood of a draw.

Sarwan will be worth watching to see how many runs he can add. The Bridgetown pitch looks easier to bat on than the Jo'burg one but 184 with probably more to come is a good score anywhere.

Scorecard

Referrals

Both matches have seen some problems with the system of referrals to the TV umpire.

In Jo'burg the technology feed to the official (though not the rest of the world) failed at one point and there were some other eyebrow raising moments.

One Cricinfo report has described the situation in Bridgetown as "umpiring chaos" , while another more diplomatically refers to "teething troubles" of the system. No doubt the TV news grabs will highlight these incidents at the expense of the good non-controversial passages of play.