HOBART – Vernon Philander exploited conditions that were tailor made for him to claim his 10th five-wicket haul and his third against Australia to give South Africa’s Proteas cricket team a decisive advantage on the opening day of the second Test match at Hobart on Saturday. Some of the reactions on Twitter were
Faf du Plessis won his second toss of the series and had no hesitation in bowling first in heavily overcast that were ideal for seam and swing bowling and that saw the start of play briefly delayed by rain.
Philander took 5/21 including getting the key wicket of David Warner in his opening over, in spite of having to leave the field for treatment to his shoulder after a mid-pitch collision with Australian captain Steve Smith, to send Australia packing to their lowest total in a home Test match in more than 30 years.
It was their third lowest total against South Africa and their lowest against the Proteas in Australia.
The Proteas had taken 10/86 against Australia at Perth and this time they went one better as the home side were bowled out for 85 in 32.5 overs. Kyle Abbott, who replaced Dale Steyn in the only change to the South African side, backed Philander up with three wickets while Kagiso Rabada picked up one in the six overs that were required from him and Dane Vilas, substituting for Philander, produced a direct hit run out to account for Australian new cap Callum Ferguson.
The value of Australia’s short innings can be seen in the extra rest it will give South Africa’s bowlers after their extreme exertions in Perth.
The other feature of the Australian first innings was the brilliance of the Proteas fielding. In addition to the run out there was some great catching by Quinton de Kock as well as by Hashim Amla and JP Duminy in the slips.
By the close the Proteas had lost 5 wickets themselves on a fast-moving day but had doubled the Australian total to take the lead to 86 runs.
If the Proteas can extend their lead beyond the 150 mark on the second day then they will hold a very strong hand. What will really encourage them was the way the batting settled down after an inspired spell by Mitchell Starc immediately after the tea interval when the Proteas lost 3 wickets for 3 runs after a solid start by Stephen Cook and Dean Elgar.
It remains to be seen if conditions are getting slightly easier but Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma and De Kock all batted confidently into the final 90 minutes of play. Amla looked to be back to somewhere near his best (47 off 67 balls, 5 fours) until he chased a wide ball from Josh Hazlewood. It was only one run shy of Smith’s top score of the day (48 not out, 80 deliveries, 5 fours).
The key point was that there were successive partnerships of 56 between Amla and Bavuma and then an unbroken 39 between Bavuma and De Kock.
The match situation underlines what a key role De Kock fills at No. 7 as it means that the top six are always going to have a reliable partner to build totals.
Australia simply don’t have the same batting depth as was illustrated by today’s events with new cap Joe Mennie the only player apart from Smith to reach double figures.
Conditions may have been difficult but they weren’t as treacherous as the Australian total suggests.
In other cricketing news, Cricket South Africa (CSA) has today charged former Proteas player Alviro Petersen with corruption. He has 14 days to respond. More here.
Proteas vs Australia Cricket comments on Twitter:
— Brad du Plessis (@braddoops) November 12, 2016
At least it's a balanced side. Can neither bat or bowl. #AUSvRSA
— Titus O'Reily (@TitusOReily) November 12, 2016
— Craig Gradidge (@gradidgec) November 12, 2016