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Ken Borland



Gabba pitch aside, years since SA batting was so weak 0

Posted on June 09, 2023 by Ken

The consensus among former Australian players in Brisbane was that they had never seen a Gabba Test pitch that was so green as what was prepared for the first Test against the Proteas this weekend; it has also probably been years since they saw such a weak South African batting line-up.

Those two factors, plus the sheer quality of both bowling attacks, were the reasons behind the astonishing two-day Test match in Brisbane, the second-shortest ever in Australia and the second-shortest anywhere since 1935.

The Proteas batting was already at a low ebb when they arrived in Australia. Their entire squad boasts just 17 Test centuries and captain Dean Elgar has scored 13 of them. It is a far, far cry from previous South African touring teams Down Under which saw batsmen like Faf du Plessis, Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers boast great individual performances. Previously, stars like Eddie Barlow, Aubrey Faulkner, Graeme Pollock and Colin Bland wowed Australian crowds.

There will be many different opinions as to why South African batting is at such a nadir; mine is the lack of top-quality first-class cricket played by the batsmen, yours may be different.

Elgar seems reluctant to make changes for the vital second Test in Melbourne from Boxing Day, but the Proteas have to bring something different to stay in the series. Selection does not seem to be a strong point of their’s at the moment and in Brisbane, in the most bowler-friendly conditions imaginable, they went in with five frontline bowlers instead of playing the extra batsman. Between them, Lungi Ngidi and Keshav Maharaj bowled just 11 overs.

Rassie van der Dussen has scored just 295 runs in his last eight Tests at an average of only 21.07, having not reached fifty in that time, and would appear to be most in danger of losing his place. Theunis de Bruyn and Heinrich Klaasen, both in-form domestically before going on tour, are next in line.

Meanwhile Ryan Rickelton is back in South Africa and looking invincible whatever is going on in his ankle.

Structure in place for ICC to rate Gabba pitch, but Elgar makes sure his feelings are known 0

Posted on June 05, 2023 by Ken

The ICC do have a structure in place whereby the match referee rates the pitch for all international games, but Proteas captain Dean Elgar made sure his feelings were known about the Gabba snakepit as he said after South Africa’s six-wicket defeat in the first Test against Australia in Brisbane that it was not suitable for Test cricket.

Former West Indies captain Richie Richardson, the match referee on duty for the series, can rate the Gabba pitch as being ‘poor’ or ‘unfit’, which would lead to the International Cricket Council (ICC) requesting an explanation from Cricket Australia and possibly taking further action.

The general consensus on Sunday was that the grassy Brisbane pitch was very poor, with excessive sideways movement and inconsistent bounce, much of it steep from a good length. The Test was the second shortest since the Second World War and only the second two-day Test in Australia ever.

“For me, that’s not what Test cricket should look like. I would ask ‘Was it a good advert for the format?’ To have 34 wickets in two days means it was pretty one-sided towards the bowlers,” Elgar said after Australia had struggled to 35 for four to win, having bundled the Proteas out for just 99 earlier in the day.

“I’m a purist of this format and you want to see it go four or five days. But it was not a good Test pitch, there was some seriously steep bounce even with the old ball.

“When KG Rabada got Travis Head caught down the leg-side and Anrich Nortje was sending short ones over everyone’s heads, I asked the umpire when do they consider it dangerous? I didn’t get a reply, maybe they thought I was taking the mickey.

“The divots had a big role to play in the sideways movement, the up-and-down bounce, much of it steep. It was interesting to see how quickly the wicket started divoting,” Elgar said.

While the terrible pitch has taken some of the attention away from another poor batting performance by the Proteas, that is sure to come back under the microscope as the crucial second Test starting in Melbourne on Boxing Day gets closer. As captain of the good ship Proteas, Elgar needs to be shouting “Ahoy! There are rocky times ahead!”

But he, perhaps cleverly, pointed to the pitch as being the root of their problems.

“We need to be honest and realistic about what happened, we were absolutely jaffered out and they bowled properly,” Elgar said. “We were confident coming in to the game, we had practised bloody well. “We will now have some extra days to tap into our mental spaces. The biggest danger is to withdraw and not deal with what happened.

“I don’t see how hitting more balls is going to make us become better cricketers, we all know our games pretty well. It was just one of those games where we failed.

“Personally, I’m still confident going into the next Test, and you still want to give your batsmen confidence and positivity,” Elgar said.

Aussies win on Gabba pitch that was as much of a minefield as SA’s potholed roads are for cars 0

Posted on June 05, 2023 by Ken

Australia won the first Test against the Proteas by six wickets on Sunday on a Gabba pitch that was as much of a minefield for batsmen as South Africa’s potholed roads are for cars.

Australia were left with a target of just 34 after yet another Proteas batting collapse saw them shot out for just 99 in 37.4 overs in their second innings on Sunday.

But the vicious nature of the green, seaming Gabba pitch meant even the powerful home batting line-up had a tough time and Australia lost four wickets in getting to their meagre target.

Kagiso Rabada took all four wickets to fall as he reduced Australia to 24 for four. Key batsman David Warner (3) failed to fix his batting woes as he was caught by a diving Sarel Erwee in the slips, and Rabada then had Steven Smith (6) and Travis Head (0) caught behind in the same over.

A spiteful pitch that offered considerable movement as well as inconsistent bounce, often steep, ruined the Test match, which was completed in 144.3 overs and less than two days. It is the second-shortest Test match since 1932, only India’s 10-wicket win over England in Ahmedabad in 2021 being shorter.

Nineteen of Australia’s 35 second-innings runs came from bouncers that cleared the wicketkeeper, as Rabada finished with four for 13 in four overs.

As difficult as the conditions were though, South Africa’s batting is clearly lacking in steel.

Having done well with the ball to bowl Australia out for 218 in their first innings in the early hours of Sunday morning and restrict their lead to 66, the Proteas folded again with the bat. Their second innings started five overs before lunch and South Africa were already in trouble by the break as they crashed to 3 for two, Dean Elgar being trapped lbw for 2 by Pat Cummins and Rassie van der Dussen being bowled for a duck by a snorter from Mitchell Starc, angling across the right-hander and then seaming back through the gate.

Sarel Erwee (3) was heading back to the changeroom three overs after lunch as Cameron Green took another superb catch in the gully, the left-handed Erwee not being able to withdraw his bat in time from a Cummins lifter.

From a parlous 5 for three, Temba Bavuma and Khaya Zondo did their best to rescue the South African innings as they added 42 for the fourth wicket. Despite the desperate situation, the pair tried to be positive and took whatever scoring chances they could.

The introduction of Nathan Lyon brought the breakthrough though as the off-spinner trapped Bavuma lbw, a big-turning delivery also keeping low to catch the batsman on the back foot. Bavuma had again batted stoutly, scoring 29.

Scott Boland’s accurate seam bowling, targeting the top of off-stump, then removed Kyle Verreynne and Marco Jansen for ducks in the next over as South Africa crashed to 49 for six.

Zondo stuck around to the end of the innings, scoring a defiant 36 not out, while Cummins ended with five for 42 in 12.4 overs.

South Africa had appeared to have bowled themselves back into the match when they reduced Australia from 181 for five to 218 all out.

The Proteas had actually started the day poorly with the ball, Australia resuming on 145 for five and adding 36 runs in the first six overs.

But left-armer Jansen then entered the attack and had Green (18) caught in the slips, Erwee snaffling a rebound, and, two balls later, had Travis Head caught behind.

Head had moved smoothly to 92 off 96 balls and his brilliant innings was as much of a hammer blow to the Proteas as the Australian bowling.

Rabada (17.3-1-76-4) then wrapped up the tail with the help of Lungi Ngidi, who took a superb return catch to dismiss Starc for 14.

South Africa would have been optimistic about fighting their way back into the match with the bat, but sports’ wonderful ability to provide drama once again came to the fore, helped by some soft moments by the Proteas batsmen.

SA heading for a painful defeat, Aussies get set to go 1-0 up 0

Posted on June 05, 2023 by Ken

South Africa were heading for a painful defeat on the second day of the first Test against Australia at the Gabba in Brisbane on Sunday as they were bundled out for just 99 in their second innings, leaving the home team with just 34 runs to get to go 1-0 up in the three-match series.

Having done well with the ball to bowl Australia out for 218 and restrict their lead to 66, the Proteas folded again with the bat as they staggered to 66 for seven at tea, all square but with just three wickets left in a second innings that started five overs before lunch.

And South Africa were already in trouble by lunch as they crashed to 3 for two, Dean Elgar being trapped lbw for 2 by Pat Cummins and Rassie van der Dussen being bowled for a duck by a snorter from Mitchell Starc, angling across the right-hander and then seaming back through the gate.

Sarel Erwee (3) was heading back to the changeroom three overs after lunch as Cameron Green took another superb catch in the gully, the left-handed Erwee not being able to withdraw his bat in time from a Cummins lifter.

From a parlous 5 for three, Temba Bavuma and Khaya Zondo did their best to rescue the South African innings as they added 42 for the fourth wicket. Despite the desperate situation, the pair tried to be positive and took whatever scoring chances they could.

The introduction of Nathan Lyon brought the breakthrough though as the off-spinner trapped Bavuma lbw, a big-turning delivery also keeping low to catch the batsman on the back foot. Bavuma had again batted stoutly, scoring 29.

Scott Boland’s accurate seam bowling, targeting the top of off-stump, then removed Kyle Verreynne and Marco Jansen for ducks in the next over as South Africa crashed to 49 for six.

Keshav Maharaj scored 16 before he was caught behind off another superb delivery from Starc in the penultimate over before tea.

Zondo stuck around to the end of the innings, scoring a defiant 36 not out, while Cummins ended with five for 42 in 12.4 overs.

South Africa had appeared to have bowled themselves back into the match when they reduced Australia from 181 for five to 218 all out.

The Proteas had actually started the day poorly with the ball, Australia resuming on 145 for five and adding 36 runs in the first six overs.

But left-armer Marco Jansen then entered the attack and had Green (18) caught in the slips, Erwee snaffling a rebound, and, two balls later, had Travis Head caught behind.

Head had moved smoothly to 92 off 96 balls and his brilliant innings was as much of a hammer blow to the Proteas as the Australian bowling.

Kagiso Rabada (17.3-1-76-4) then wrapped up the tail with the help of Lungi Ngidi, who took a superb return catch to dismiss Starc for 14.

South Africa would have been optimistic about fighting their way back into the match with the bat, but sports’ wonderful ability to provide drama once again came to the fore, helped by some soft moments by the Proteas batsmen.

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