Day 4 of the second test from Adelaide dawns today with the match fairly evenly poised. I did not get to watch any of the game yesterday due to a golf commitment and will be similarly indisposed today playing in the Ipswich Rugby League Old Boys Golf Day out at the Rosewood Golf Club.
Nonetheless, I have watched the highlights package of today’s play and analysed the score card and have some thoughts on what will be the keys to success for the combatants on day four.
1. The battle of the captains: Clarke v Smith
I think it would be fair to say there have been moments in this test, indeed in this series, where one of the two captains has clearly had the ascendancy in both the position of the game and the tactical nous they have put into their decision making. The game is even at the moment and could very well come down to which of the captains “bests” the other captain in the game of high stakes chess this test match has become.
2. How many runs is too many?
The largest run chase at the Adelaide Oval to win in the 4th innings is a little over 300 runs set in 1910. I think that record could be broken here simply because there is so much time remaining in this game and how good the pitch still is to bat on. Two full days of cricket remain or 180 overs. A lot can happen in that time and thus the run chase set by the Australians for their South African counterparts (if they are allowed to set a target rather than being bowled out) needs to be enough that the draw is secure as a result but also needs to be low enough so as to entice the Proteas to go for it.
3. Clarke / Hussey: can they do it again?
If Australia’s first innings showed fans one thing only, it was who fragile Australia’s batting lineup is at numbers 7 through 11 against quality bowling. Thus the course of the game will rest heavily on the shoulders of the men at the crease presently. If Clarke and Hussey can stay together till about tea today then it will be likely that the game will be out of the Proteas reach. Conversely if one of them falls early this morning then there is another real prospect that Australia will be “6 out and all out” (Siddle having been and gone as night watchman) which will open the game up for a South African run chase.
All of what happens today hinges on the partnership noted above and thus I have no more “keys” for readers to look for today. I for one will be glued to my cricket score apps on the golf course willing the Clarke / Hussey combination to another big partnership. If they can not produce one I fear that the game will fall directly into the hands of the South Africans.
It will be another fascinating day of cricket. I hope you enjoy it!