Australians in South Africa 2014: 3rd Test Day 3 … Reverse swing swings Australia’s way

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 (  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.

Australia in South Africa 2014: Ryan Harris speaks sense on ball tampering

I have been heartened today to read Ryan Harris’ comments on the allegations of ball tampering levelled at the South Africans by his teammate David Warner.

Harris has been variously quoted as follows:

“I’ve got no doubt what they [South Africa] did was fine, otherwise the umpires and the match referee would have done something,” Harris said.

“They [South Africa] have obviously looked after the ball a lot better than us, and if there’s anything illegal about it I’m sure we would have heard about it by now.

“They’ve obviously had experience at that ground and knew what they had to do.

“We didn’t do it well enough so we’ve just got to make sure that if it (reverse swing) happens here (in Cape Town), somehow we’ve got to get it going.

“Throwing it (the ball) into the ground, that happens in everyday cricket now as long as you’re doing it from the outfield.

“There are things that are not secret because everyone does it, and then it’s a matter of how you polish it up and what you do after that.

“But I think if there’s any scratching or anything like that done, the umpires are checking the ball every 15 overs or whatever and if they see it, they’ll change it and they’ll make a report.”

Harris has gotten this absolutely correct.  If the South Africans were tampering with the ball then they would have been reported: it is that simple.  That is precisely what happened when Faf du Plessis was charged with ball tampering in October 2013.

The fact is, and Harris himself says this, the South Africans bowled better and used the conditions better than the Australians did.  To suggest otherwise, as David Warner did, smacks of nothing other than the sourest of sour grapes.

Apparently the ICC is presently considering sanctions against Warner for his comments.  The next chapter of this saga will certainly be interesting if nothing else.

The Ashes: Ryan Harris injured? Calm down everybody!

Fans of the Australian cricket team awoke to the news on Thursday that Ryan Harris was returning home from the IPL due to an achilles heel injury. Actually, scratch that, on Thursday the news about Ryan Harris went something like this:

* Ryan Harris is injured.
* He is returning home 1 day after he was named in the Australian Ashes squad.
* He is out of the Ashes series.
* Yet again the Cricket Australia board of selectors have stuffed up.

Unfortunately for journalists of print, web and social media only one of those four “facts” were correct. As we found out AFTER the idiotic headlines (kudos to the Courier Mail for the picture of Harris with his head in his hands wearing a Queensland cap lamenting him being out of the Ashes campaign):

* Ryan Harris has an injury to his achilles heel.
* He left India on Tuesday; viz., one day in advance of the naming of the Australian Ashes squad.
* He is expected to be fit, in his words, in “a couple of weeks” OR, in the words of Cricket Australia, in six weeks. Neither timeline put him out of the Ashes squad.
* He was selected by Cricket Australia in the full knowledge of him returning home. Indeed he has returned home so that his injury can be managed by Cricket Australia doctors.

Now I know that:

* I have been a very harsh critic of the Cricket Australia selection panel and in particular John Inverarity; and
* We are all very excited about the forthcoming series: well one part excited and nine parts worried

BUT can everyone just calm down for a minute? I fully understand the social media explosion that goes with something like this happening: indeed on other occasions I have been stoking the fire. However, for the print media to beat this up the way they have smacks of another agenda or, at the very least, an attempt at expectation management of Australian fans (in the expectation of a comprehensive loss).

It seems that the print media in this country has already written this team off: having pillored Cricket Australia for the team they selected for India with the benefit of the hindsight of a 4-0 result (the same print media were very enamoured with the team before it departed these shores as I remember it) said media are now pilloring a team that has been selected seemingly solely with an eye on winning. Such writing is reminiscent of that of the English press when Australia were belting the Poms in ’89 and ’93. I never expected it from our press.

Am I missing something completely here? Cricket Australia have picked a team that is experienced in the conditions and, in my opinion, can win the Ashes. The Poms are cocky and think we are crap. What better time to get behind our team and bask in the glory of beating them? The reporting of the naming of the team and that of Ryan Harris’ injury suggests another agenda: I for one hope that changes sooner rather than later so that we can focus on getting our urn back!