Australia began their series with the number one ranked South Africa in a fashion that makes you want to stay up and watch every ball (at least if you live in England). The match, however, didn’t start all that well for the Aussies.
The supreme Hashim Amla with 104 hit his third century of the year and the forever dependable Jacques Kallis made 147 as South Africa made 450 in their first innings. Australia’s early wicket of Graeme Smith was not a sign of things to come as Alviro Petersen (64), then Kallis shared good partnerships with Amla.
Graeme Swann said of facing Hashim Amla this summer; “It was ridiculous, when he went out to bat he was fully shaven, and when he returned he had a beard down to his knees.”
AB de Villiers and Jacques Rudolph made good starts but the Proteas’ tail succumbed to the home bowling attack of Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus, Nathan Lyon and James Pattinson. Australia would have been rather disappointed with their bowling effort, they insisted on bowling short and wide on the first morning and feeding easy runs to the visitors.
Australia made 565/5d in reply with three centurions. Ed Cowan made his maiden Test hundred with 136, Mr Cricket Mike Hussey made 100 and the captain Michael Clarke passed 1000 runs for the calendar year with a quite superb 259*. All this came against a South African attack which allowed England only two centuries during their entire three match series earlier in the year.
The form of Clarke is definitely going to put fear into any opposing bowlers. Many players have one year in which they are almost invincible and 2012 has certainly been that year for Clarke. He began with a double and a triple hundred against India. Then he scored consistently against the West Indies before returning this week to score that unbeaten double at the Gabba.
He was part of two double-hundred partnerships against South Africa and was on the verge of becoming the first player in history to make two triple-hundreds in a calendar year when he declared the innings, allowing his team to have a chance of winning the game on Day Five. The game petered out into a draw as Kallis, Amla and de Villiers stemmed the flow of South African wickets.
If day two hadn’t been rained out, this Test could’ve been a classic. If it had gone down to a final day climax South Africa would’ve had the disadvantage of having only nine wickets as a result of their batting all rounder Jean-Paul Duminy tearing his Achilles tendon during the warm down on Day One.
The hosts were missing their premier all rounder Shane Watson, the big hitting blonde was the man of the tournament at the World T20 and his over’s were greatly missed by captain Michael Clarke, who had to turn to a combination of himself, Hussey and debutant Rob Quiney. However, because of Duminy’s injury South Africa had the same problem, with Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla and Alviro Petersen bowling 14 over’s between them.
There are two Tests remaining in series as it moves onto Adelaide then Perth. Australia perhaps have the upper hand having asserted their dominance in Brisbane so ruthlessly with the bat. It’s difficult not to conclude that, without the rain, they’d have been strong favourites…
By Paul Rutland