Australia has continued their complete dominance of recent cricket with a comprehensive 281 run win over South Africa at SuperSport Park, Centurion. Led by the ferocious bowling Mitchell Johnson, the tourists sent shockwaves through the number one test ranked team in the world, as they took a one-nil lead in the best of three series, providing the crowd with South Africa’s worst loss in almost 60 years.
Needing a world record 482 runs for victory, South Africa never looked likely to produce a result, or bat out the 174 overs to snatch a draw. Mitchell Johnson obviously hasn’t lost the amazing form that saw him lead the 5-0 rout of England just recently, taking a career best 12-127. This was on the back of savage bowling from Australia, once again led by the aggressive left armer. The physical threat presented by Johnson was reinforced shortly before tea when all-rounder Ryan McLaren bore the brunt of another brutal bouncer from the Australian. The left-hander was unable to evade a bouncer and instead ducked into a ball that clattered into his helmet so hard it could be clearly heard around the ground. Proteas staff ran out onto the ground immediately after seeing him struck on the side of the helmet. It took about five minutes for staff to successfully stem the bleeding created by the blow, which occurred even with him wearing the helmet. Had he not been wearing a helmet the results could have been catastrophic.
Debutant Alex Doolan showed he was in it for the long haul, contributing a handy 87 in the second innings, and taking two blistering catches at short leg to contribute to Johnson’s 5 wicket second innings haul. His highlight was the second innings scalp of Proteas captain Graeme Smith. As Johnson angled a full delivery into Smith the Proteas captain clipped it solidly off his pads, where Doolan claimed a magnificent reflex catch at short-leg that sent his Australian teammates into delirium. Left-hander Smith struck the ball sweetly but it flew directly into the hands of the Tasmanian, stunning all on and in the ground. Michael Clarke deserves credit for the unorthodox positioning of Doolan just behind the crease.
The only shining star for the home team was A.B. de Villiers, top scoring in both innings, but it never looked like helping the eventual result.
A lively pitch aided Johnson’s bowling, but didn’t deserve the comment from Graeme Smith; “He got a lot of difficult bounce, he got a lot of balls to get really big on batters in good areas, which made it obviously very tough. But it’s not long ago that we can think back to big moments in games where we’ve been able to put him under pressure. ‘Obviously he’s bowling well, [but] I truly believe that the wicket played a big role in the success that he had. The stats, even in the Ashes, say that he picked up a lot of lower-order wickets.” Even though the Port Elizabeth pitch isn’t as likely to produce as much help for Johnson, and Australia’s, aggressive bowling approach, Johnson after the match admitted he could do better.
In other news, at the time of writing, New Zealand pair Brendan McCullum and BJ Watling have combined for a staggering world record partnership. The two put on 352 runs in over 120 overs. This has brought New Zealand back from the brink in the second match of the recent two test series against India. After faltering for 192 in the first innings and then allowing India to 438, the Kiwi pair has wrestled back a handy lead which will hopefully force a result with a day to play. Further, in a recent Sheffield Shield match, in Victoria’s second innings, New South Wales tore through the top, reducing the home side to a starting total of 6-9.