Thursday, December 18, 2008

Aus vs RSA Day Two: Where are all the flat track bullies?

Make no mistake about it, this track is as flat as the proverbial pancake. South Africa's 243-8 may not suggest it, but that is frankly nothing more than a reflection of the Proteas' weak batting line up, which was hampered further by the absence of Prince in this Test.

Kallis and Smith scored a few, but the former was nothing more than his obdurate self, and the latter thoroughly unconvincing. Amla and de Villiers were the ones who looked class on the day, Amla in particular looking like he could grow into a real world-beater. The pair timed the ball beautifully and looked completely untroubled at the crease.

It took a beautiful delivery by Krezja, drifting away, dipping late, then turning in sharply, to lure Amla into a drive that was beaten on the inside on the way through to the stumps, and as for de Villiers, his loose drive at Johnson paved the way for a truly South African collapse.

The collapse owed much to Johnson's brilliant day at work. Like Morkel on the first day, he bowled intelligently, varying his pace and length, and looked likely from the start. He richly deserved his 7-fer, even if he was aided and abetted by Aleem Dar, who had yet another poor day as he first dubiously triggered Duminy, and then appeared to miss a back-foot no-ball when Johnson went round the wicket to Harris and had him caught at backward square.

When i got to the WACA at 4:30am this morning, I predicted 400 for Australia, and 250 all out for South Africa in response. Australia fell slightly short, but South Africa are right on track to live up to my expectations, and unfortunately what that means is that this game is somewhat over as a contest. The interest now lies in whether Johnson can turn 7 into 9, and possibly beat Murali's 9-51 and record the 5th best figures of all time; and then in how many Australian batsmen can record second innings hundreds on a dead wicket, as I can't see them all messing up a second time around. Fortunately, I'll be there to see it all.

One more thing about Johnson - he was clearly the fastest bowler on display in this Test match. I don't know if the speed gun backed that up, but it was pretty obvious watching it live. Siddle was not far behind, followed by Lee, and I'd have to say that all three Australians were faster than the South African pace trio, which does not reflect well on the much-hyped Steyn.

It's also interesting to look at just how few of the dismissals in the match were a result of good deliveries. Taking them one by one:

  • Hayden - got a good ball that bounced a bit and seamed away from him, but played a poor shot
  • Katich - triggered by Aleem Dar
  • Ponting - a good catch, but a very poor short pushing hard at the ball first up
  • Hussey - a good ball that angled across him, and a great catch by de Villiers
  • Clarke - the second worst shot of the game
  • Symonds - the equal third worst shot of the game
  • Haddin - the equal third worst shot of the game, again to a nothing delivery
  • Lee - soft half-hearted prod with hard hands
  • Johnson - possibly triggered by Aleem Dar
  • Siddle - had a go at one too many in the end, and edged through - credit to Ntini probably merited here
  • McKenzie - perhaps the worst shot ever, leave alone off this game -- I only know one other person who plays shots like that pull to mid on, and he plays club cricket in Northern California.
  • Smith - a big inside edge, no footwork, but no surprises there, he wasn't batting all that well
  • Amla - got undone by an absolute beaut by Krezja
  • Kallis - chased it a little outside off and edged through to the keeper
  • de Villiers - got a decent ball, but could have let it go
  • Duminy - okay, a bum decision, but he got in a right tangle over a short ball on a flat track, and that's worrying
  • Morkel - so much for being an all rounder, but to be fair, Johnson bowled a smart slower off-cutter and he closed the face early - credit to the bowler here
  • Harris - a possible back-foot no-ball, but tamely turned straight into the hands of backward square leg.
Unbelievable really. All this on a track that as I keep saying, is pretty much dead. There's nothing to help the bowlers here, which shows you just how well Johnson bowled to take 7! Over the years, we keep seeing certain batsmen labelled Flat Track Bullies. Well, what would South Africa give to have one of those right now, I wonder?


Samir said...

If the S. Africans are flat track bullies, they should do fine on this flat track, no? But they struggled a bit... so what gives?

Fourth Umpire said...

After three days, I'm still stunned at how no batsman has managed to put up a big score on this track. It defies logic.

Samir said...

It's all that one-day cricket, I tell ya... They don't make 'em like Rahul Dravid no more. :)