After a hard fought series between Australia and South Africa recently (won by South Africa), those two teams are finding the going a lot easier in their current assignments. I was at the SCG to watch Australia play Sri Lanka, and I am thankful that Sri Lanka put up some fight and it looks like it will be worth going again tomorrow and the next day. But South Africa seem to be finding it even easier going against New Zealand. The Kiwis have, as we say in Australia, “posted a 45”.
You may recall that it was not so long ago (October 2011) that South Africa routed Australia for 47. That is 47 runs for the team total. That was at Newlands, in Cape Town. In a lovely piece of near symmetry, New Zealand has just bettered Australia, at the same ground, by being dismissed for 45. Only in this case, this was the first innings of the match, whereas Australia was snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
I clearly remember a distressed teen ager waking me in the middle of the night to announce that Australia was 6 for 18. Fortunately, I went straight back to sleep as they slumped to nine down for 21 runs. You may be aware that the record for the lowest Test innings is 26 and Australia looked like achieving that. In New Zealand’s case yesterday, they had passed the record with just three wickets down! In this day and age, where the vast majority of batting records set are at the other end of the spectrum, it was a rare chance for Australia to grab a such a record. I guess New Zealand wouldn’t mind too much, as they have held that record since 1955!
For South Africa, once again, the chief destroyer was Vernon Philander. He took 5 for 15 against Australia and yesterday got his average headed in back in the right direction, taking 5 for 7 (to avoid confusion, that is 5 wickets for 7 runs conceded). And in both matches, Morkel and Steyn took three and two wickets respectively. It is uncanny.
I’m headed back to the SCG in 10 hours to see Australia’s reply to Sri Lanka. I doubt it will be 47. Or 45.