Australia declared over night on 494 and sent the South African’s innings for what was the most important innings of this series. By the end of day 3 Australia had again won the day and now are poised to win the series.
After the second test there was much talk about reverse swing and Australia’s lack of proficiency in that dark art. When the ball started to “reverse” in the 27th over in the hand of Ryan Harris those in commentary first put the ball movement down to it hitting the seam before realizing that the Australian bowlers were in fact swinging the ball. Such was the lack of expectation on the Australian bowlers.
Speaking of Ryan Harris, with a bad knee hanging on by a thread and awaiting major surgery, he charged in and bowled back to back spells that were the best spells by any bowler in the series so far. His ball to extract Amla through the gate reminded me of his removal of Cooke in Perth. Subtle movement at pace piercing the defence of one of the best batters in the world: that is what Ryan Harris does.
At the other end, Mitchell Johnson did what he had done since November. He intimidated and he procured false strokes and acted as the perfect counter balance to Ryan Harris’ production at the other end. I was one of the few people who questioned Johnson’s form line coming out of the Ashes, mostly because I considered his output in that series to more to do with England’s poor form than anything else. I have been proven overtly incorrect.
This has been a complete and absolute dismantling of the best team in the world by Australia’s newly rising line up. It is South Africa’s turn now to counter punch. If they do not then the game could well be over on day 4.
I wrote earlier about Graeme Smith’s retirement (https://shumpty77.com/2014/03/04/cricket-graeme-smith-retires/). Nothing more needs to be said about that other than the fact that if South Africa ever needed something to play for on these final two days of the series they have it now.
A final comment: Faf du Plessis was quoted thusly in his press conference overnight on the topic of reverse swing:
“I must be honest, I was really surprised to see the ball reverse from their side,” du Plessis said.
“I think it was 27 overs when the ball started reversing, especially after rain and a wet outfield (from the day before). I was really surprised by that, so … let’s leave it at that.”
This sentiment was always going to arise after Warner’s comments in the lead up to the test match. Whilst, du Plessis did not make a direct allegation against a particular player like Warner, in the interests of consistency I expect the ICC to have a look at the comments albeit I expect him to be exonerated.
Day 4 will again commence early to make up the time lost on Day 2. The weather, according to the South African weather service, will be clear all day so we should have a full day of cricket to saviour.