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Thursday, March 06, 2014

Australia ...just: T3 D5


Australia 7/494 dec & 5/303 dec defeated South Africa 287 & 265 (134.3ov, Philander 51/105b/1x6 6x4, duPlessis 47/109b, Duminy 43/99b, deVilliers 43/228b, Amla 41/109b, Harris 24.3-15-32-4, Johnson 34-11-92-3, Pattinson 27-10-62-2, Smith 13-3-43-1, Lyon 22-17-10-0, Watson 9-0-6-0, Clarke 5-2-7-0) by 245 runs: T3/3 D5/5 at Newlands, Cape Town. Australia win series 2-1. Player of series & Player of match: David Warner.

Ryan Harris bowled Australia to what had for much of the match looked an inevitable victory but which from mid-afternoon on D5 until over 135 of South Africa's second innings seemed to be heading for a draw (and perhaps a moral defeat for the visitors).

The Proteas once again demonstrated their defensive fighting qualities and, almost, their ability to extract draws from the jaws of defeat. But Harris, after apparently bowling himself into the ground (and taking two key top order wickets in the process) roused himself for one final effort, which in three balls secured the Test and the series for Australia (and laid the ghosts of Adelaide 2012). The delivery which accounted for Morne Morkel was everything that Morkel's bowling in this series rarely was - pitched up on the stumps. 

I dozed off when Vernon Philander and J P Duminy seemed to have the situation in hand, as the Australia bowlers were unable to coax much help from the wicket, but awoke to find Duminy out, one of four Proteas dismissed in the 40s.

I didn't go back to sleep until Harris's 145th and 147th balls of the innings settled the issue (and my stomach).

So Australia just won? In terms of the match duration, yes, but the alternative was not defeat.

Look at the scorecard and see how dominant Australia were. Sure, a few cracks in the bowling were exposed on the last day, eg Nathan Lyon's inability to trouble batters, but it's hard to bowl out a team with so many good players (and at least one great one-  AB deVilliers) with sound defensive techniques and the mindset to apply them.

David Warner, Mitchell Johnson and Michael Clarke performed extremely well, but for me Harris was the hero, and not only at the last. I hope he hasn't played his last Test.

So if Australia may have only "just" won, but it was a just win, which gave them the series. They were 
Indubitably the better team and the defacto #1 Test team in the world.

<a href="http://www.espncricinfo.com/south-africa-v-australia-2013-14/engine/match/648677.html">Scorecard</a>
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