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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.

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