It took almost three days but one team finally took the ascendancy. Of course, that team was Australia, as Brett Lee ran through the South African tail.
Things were evenly poised with South Africa at 5-255, trailing Australia on the first innings by 122. But it all changed very quickly when the new ball was taken. Stuart Clark dismissed Kallis, for the third time in the series, for 114 and a dramatic collapse followed. The last five wickets fell for just 12 runs and Binga’s figures went from 1-64 (17 overs) to 5-69 (19.4 overs).
It’s interesting to note that Australia lost its sixth wicket with the score on 5-253 – two less than South Africa. They fared much better thanks to a swash buckling Warne (still trying for that early finish) and an excellent 75 from Hussey.
The most puzzling event of the first three days was that Stuart Clark was not given an over until the 40th over of the innings. He was held back in the gloomy conditions so as not to risk play being ended for bad light. While this is sporting and I guess positive of Ponting, it is equally ridiculous. There were times during the Ashes series that Australia bowled spin from both ends just to stay on the field. That was very different as Australia were behind in the series and had no time to play with. In this case, they are in front – my opinion is that you bowl your preferred bowlers and if you go off, you go off. Who knows – perhaps as they trail, South Africa would have played on, thus giving more advantage to Australia. As it turned out, play was finished after two balls from Clark. But Clark took just a further six balls next morning to break what had been allowed to become a very useful partnership for South Africa.
Australia’s lead is not 249, with 9 wickets in hand and Ponting and Hayden both just past 50.
For those of you who don’t know, the Pura Milk Cup final is being played. Victoria (needing to win to take the Cup), reached 2-238. With Hodge on 108, they must have been feeling good. But it was all down hill from there. The Bushrangers made 344, which is not a disaster. That was to come. The Bulls declared at 6/900. That is correct nine hundred. The score at one stage reached 3-878. Last day is tomorrow but I don’t think interest level could be higher than zero.
Queensland 1st innings R M B 4 6
*JP Maher c Pilon b Lewis 223 495 385 29 0
LM Stevens run out (Moss) 66 156 118 7 0
ML Love c Pilon b Jewell 169 420 291 24 0
SR Watson retired hurt 201 402 342 23 1
CT Perren c Jewell b Nannes 173 358 278 10 5
AJ Bichel c Pilon b Nannes 3 18 11 0 0
JR Hopes c Pilon b Nannes 4 6 8 0 0
+CD Hartley not out 3 33 14 0 0
DJ Doran not out 3 22 17 0 0
Extras (b 8, lb 19, w 13, nb 15) 55
Total (6 wickets dec, 242 overs) 900