December 3, 2012
South Africa has confirmed its No 1 status in world test cricket by defeating Australia by 309 runs in Perth a day early. South Africa 225 (Du Plessis 78) and 569 (Amla 196, De Villiers 169, Smith 84, Starc 6 – 154, Johnson 4 – 110). Australia 163 (Wade 68, Steyn 4 – 40) and 322 (Cowan 53, Starc 68 no). Hashim Amla was named man of the match. The man of the series award will provide scant consolation for Aussie skipper Michael Clarke as his team suffered its first defeat in 2012.
Chasing 622 for victory, which was never an option, Australia’s batsmen – in contrast to South Africa’s at Adelaide – adopted a gung-ho approach in what needed to be a disciplined two-day rearguard action. Only Ed Cowan batted for more than 60 balls and even he was dismissed attempting an over ambitious hook with fielders spread out and waiting. When all was lost, tailenders Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon entertained the crowd with a swashbuckling last wicket stand of 97.
There was to be no last hurrah for Ricky Ponting as he bade farewell to test cricket with another single figure score. Maybe, like Don Bradman 65 years before him, he was batting with tears in his eyes after the South African team had welcomed him to the crease with a guard of honour. Following his dismissal, there were more tributes with handshakes all round from the fielders followed by the statutory standing ovation. Farewell and thank you Punter – cue more tears in the Australian dressing room.
The South African attack reminded us all why it is such a force. Morne Morkel was the pick of the bowlers; he extracted steepling bounce from the helpful WACA pitch. The others all bowled impressively and once again wickets were shared around.
There is now only a brief respite for the two teams before the busy Christmas and New Year series in which Australia plays host to Sri Lanka and South Africa takes on New Zealand at home. Expect South Africa to pull further away from the pack.
The Scoop 03/12/12