And it gets better! Rabada angling his bat outside off stump and lazily playing back onto his stumps. Australia, and Green in particular, have ripped this innings apart in the blink of an eye. 67th over: South Africa 186-8 (Maharaj 2)WICKET! Jansen c Carey b Green 59 (South Africa 182-7)Green does it again! Full delivery, fourth stump line, Jansen has a swing at it but doesn’t move his feet and can only feather a nick behind. 66th over: South Africa 182-6 (Jansen 59, Maharaj 2) Jansen gets off strike straight away which allows Lyon yo torment the new batter. A bat-pad to begin with looks awkward for Maharaj, as does the follow-up which became a leg-slip crowd catch.
Australia’s day. Cameron Green’s day. Another terrible day of Test cricket as South Africa are bowled out for under 200 and the bowlers (finally, who can blame them) look tired. Can this year just end already? #AUSvSA— Firdose Moonda (@FirdoseM) December 26, 2022 12th over: Australia 45-1 (Warner 32, Labuschagne 5) Better from Jansen, shaping the ball back into the right-handed Labuschagne from over the wicket, but the run-machine uses the curve to work three through the on-side. Warner then enjoys a slice of luck, failing to leave securely and the ball deflecting off his raised blade – but away to safety. He shows all his experience thereafter, milking the clock with a mid-pitch chat, plenty of equipment fiddling, and then pulling away from the strike as Jansen was about to bowl. The outcome is stumps. 11th over: Australia 42-1 (Warner 33, Labuschagne 2) Nortje replaces Rabada in the attack, and he’s the first South African pacer to hit his mark from the off.
” I fear I have also fallen into that trap Alex, barracking for the story. See earlier posts about Cameron Green’s intervention – we like to find narratives that can sustain us through a column or an OBO or commentary stint and make them hang together coherently. Sometimes we get sucked into the world of our creation. 9th over: Australia 33-1 (Warner 27, Labuschagne 0) Warner continues to assert himself against an off-colour Rabada, calling loudly, running aggressively, and putting the onus back on the bowler to do something radical to dismiss him.
61st over: South Africa 175-5 (Verreynne 50, Jansen 58) Cummins needs a spark of inspiration and he turns to Cameron Green to locate it. His young allrounder responds with a line and length maiden. “Gee, it looks like a nice batting pitch now, ” coos Ricky Ponting on the telly. Australia have an hour and a half or so to avoid an inquest into Cummins’s decision at the toss. 50 to Verreynne60th over: South Africa 175-5 (Verreynne 50, Jansen 58) Back-to-back first-innings fifties to Kyle Verreynne, who milks Lyon to long-on.
Ai, I just don't know anymore... #AUSvSA— Firdose Moonda (@FirdoseM) December 26, 2022 68th over: South Africa 186-9 (Nortje 0, Ngidi 0) Ngidi sees off the remainder of the over to allow Green his dip at a five-for. WICKET! Maharaj c Cummins b Lyon 2 (South Africa 186-9)Absymal from South Africa. Either side of one tremendous partnership the Proteas have been garbage. Maharaj is the latest to throw his wicket away, swiping Lyon high and not very handsome to Cummins at mid-off. Four for seven in 16 balls. Awful collapse. WICKET! Rabada b Green 4 (South Africa 186-8)This is exactly the spell Australia need from Cameron Green, picking up wickets with the old ball. It’s also the spell match reporters needed from the day, with Green now the clear storyline in the week he broke the Australian auction price record at the IPL.
Then 20 wickets on Day 3 please. — John Allen 🦊 (@moist4life) December 26, 2022 I reckon most of this is probable; only the 20 wickets on day three seems unlikely, but I’d suggest 10+ wouldn’t be unrealistic. 5th over: Australia 17-0 (Warner 17, Khawaja 0) Rabada finally starts to hit his line and length, so unfathomably he drops short without menace, allowing Warner to pull another risk free boundary. A trademark back-foot bunt into the offside for three keeps Warner moving.
As the clock ticks over to 3:50 (Shane Warne’s cap number) the 60, 000 or so inside the MCG stand to applaud and break out a rendition of “Waaaarrrrrrnnnniiiieeeeee”. Lots of white floppy hats doffed in appreciation. Lovely scenes. 54th over: South Africa 151-5 (Verreynne 42, Jansen 43) Just the single from a run-of-the-mill Lyon over. 53rd over: South Africa 150-5 (Verreynne 42, Jansen 42) Scott Boland shares duties with Lyon after tea, but he serves up an early gift for Kyle Verryenne, allowing the right-hander to ease a couple of runs down to fine-leg off his hip. “With this old ball, the pitch looks unthreatening and full of runs, ” I type, just as Boland gets one to nip off the pitch and past Verryenne’s outside edge.
64th over: South Africa 179-5 (Verreynne 52, Jansen 58) Verreynne absorbs most of Lyon’s over before peeling off an easy single. There’s little going on for the fielding side out there but the concentration from the South Africans in the middle deserves commendation. 63rd over: South Africa 178-5 (Verreynne 51, Jansen 58) Just the one off the bat to Verreynne from Green’s over, but the scoreboard also benefits from a couple of byes, one of which the product of Steve Smith’s misfortune chasing the runaway ball.
That stroke brings up the 100 partnership. South Africa are growing into this Test match. 57th over: South Africa 159-5 (Verreynne 46, Jansen 46) Boland is instructed to bowl a tighter line, and is handed a field accordingly. He gets a heavy effort ball to lift on Jansen that raps the batter on his bottom glove, but trickles away to safety. Jansen is showing real fortitude today, wearing plenty of deliveries without losing his head. 56th over: South Africa 154-5 (Verreynne 43, Jansen 45) Australia now have two men out for the sweep so Jansen only earns a single for his efforts. Verreynne, who is rarely on strike, is no sooner on it than he’s off it, cutting to the point sweeper for one.
Most of Green’s deliveries are aimed at Jansen, who Australia are convinced is susceptible to deliveries targeting his ribs (as am I) but he deals with those ok, only to almost perish chasing a wide one. As I warned you about earlier, the accompanying noise to the Test is now: “Five… four… three… two… one… WAHEYYYYYY! ” as a series of Mexican waves lap gently at an unisinterested shore. 62nd over: South Africa 175-5 (Verreynne 50, Jansen 58) Jansen plays Lyon away for the second maiden in a row. It’s a curious over, one in which Lyon deviated from his stock 89/90 kph pace up to 102/103 kph for a couple of deliveries, showing how creative Australia are becoming in their efforts to break this solid partnership.
There’s a performative appeal for caught behind from bowler and keeper, one lacking the conviction of belief, but Smith in the slips is adamant, and he convinces Cummins to review, but there’s a clear gap between bat and ball on the replay. Just as an aside, Australia are two overs behind on the over-rate. It will be interesting to see if they respond to this, following its role in their failure to reach last year’s World Test Championship final.
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Such an anticlimax. They might have been decent deliveries to a right-hander, but to a leftie they were dross. All the while Rabada’s pace dropped each delivery as he searched for his line. Not the start the Proteas wanted. Warner takes guard, busy and bristling. Kagiso Rabada has the new ball. There’s a short leg under the batter’s nose. This should be fun…Some info on Mitchell Starc’s injury from an eagle-eyed reader (and emergency physician) @JPHowcroft the slow mo looks like starcy has done a mallet finger - extensor tendon rupture of distal finger joint. Usually needs 6 weeks in a special splint. Doubt he’s allowed to bowl with it on…— Nick Taylor (@nickrolyat) December 26, 2022 Thanks Dr Nick! Australia will have **commentary cliche alert** an awkward hour or so to bat. Against this South African new ball attack with shadows stretching across the MCG, this could be just the setting Warner needs to counterpunch his way back to life.
A century stand between Kyle Verreynne and Marco Jansen. It shouldn't really be up to them to get the team out of a mess but I like what I'm seeing so far. Nice, proactive approach from this pair. If this line-up can get close to 250, their attack can make things happen. #AUSvSA— Firdose Moonda (@FirdoseM) December 26, 2022 50 to Jansen / 100 partnership58th over: South Africa 167-5 (Verreynne 46, Jansen 54) Behind his wraparound Oakley sunnies Nathan Lyon’s eyes would have lit up when Jansen was slow to prop forward, but then scrunched in horror as the outside edge fails to connect with the ball. The bowler ramps up the pressure with a teasing line and length, prompting Jansen to advance and chip the ball in the direction of Starc at long-on – who CAN’T HOLD ON to a Glenn-McGrath-at-Adelaide style catch away to his left. Not only that, but Starc immediately called for the trainer and left the field with apparent damage to the index finger of his bowling hand. Not only that that, but the ball ran away for four, bringing up Jansen’s 50! Which he celebrates by nudging his second boundary of the over, around the corner to the fine-leg fence.
Lyon then finds the edge of Jansen’s bat with a delivery that keeps low, but the allrounder jabs down just in time to squirt the ball along the turf to Smith at first slip. The atmospheric noise is now quintessential Boxing Day afternoon at the MCG. The low rumbling sound of thousands of inebriated patrons just about keeping it together to pay attention to a slow-moving game of cricket. Beer snakes, Mexican waves, and evictions on their way. 55th over: South Africa 152-5 (Verreynne 42, Jansen 44) A touch more spite about Boland’s 12th over, drawing suggestions the surface may be quickening up after a day baking in the hot Melbourne sun.
He’s 17 off 21 and giving off the body language of a man on a mission. 4th over: Australia 8-0 (Warner 8, Khawaja 0) Ngidi has show more control than Rabada but he still lacks rhythm in these early exchanges. Maybe I’m judging him harshly on the evidence of this tour to date, but Ngidi seems expendable to me in this XI. Surely Rabada, Jansen, Nortje and Maharaj is a strong enough four-man attack to allow for an extra batter? The crowd has been announced as 64, 876. 3rd over: Australia 7-0 (Warner 7, Khawaja 0) David Warner gets off the mark with a boundary! It was a shot missed by the host broadcaster, who were advertising a new Guy Ritchie movie, but replays show Rabada dropping short and Warner whipping his hands through a brutal pull with serious speed.
Kyle Verreynne struck a classy 52, backed up by a nuggety 59 from Marco Jansen, and for a long spell in the afternoon it looked like an authentic Test match might break out amongst the crapshoot. But alas, after a stand worth 112, the final five wickets fell for ten runs in four overs. The central protagonist in that second collapse was allrounder Cameron Green (5/27). He earned his first Test five-for by putting the old ball in the right areas often enough for the Proteas to engineer their own downfalls. It was especially timely for Australia because not long beforehand Mitchell Starc badly injured the middle finger on his bowling hand spilling a diving catch, ruling him out of the attack for the remainder of the day and possibly for much longer.
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