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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

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.


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.


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.



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.

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