Posted by: nestaquin | February 24, 2009

2008/09 Australian Season Retrospective Continues…

waca-winnersWith tours and Test matches happening or beginning in New Zealand, Africa, Pakistan and the Caribbean there is little time to complete our retrospective into the 2008/09 Australian summer in detail so instead a brief round-up with accompanying Eric Hollies Medal points will have to suffice.

We continue with the three Test series against South Africa, a contest which saw the Proteas repel Australia in the first two Tests and lose the third with only minutes remaining. It was a memorable series that saw the emergence of JP Duminy, the fulfillment of Mitchell Johnson’s enormous potential and the complete reversal of public attitude towards South Africa’s titan of a skipper, Graeme Smith.

The first Test at the WACA saw Australia lead on the first innings by 94 runs due almost entirely to Johnson’s remarkable efforts. His innings figures of 24-4-61-8 were the best ever recorded by a left-arm quick and after a solid second innings Australia looked to have the match well in control setting the visitors 414 runs for victory.

Incredibly, the South Africans batted so well as a unit that 514 would not have been enough as they chased down the target with more than a session to spare with still six wickets in the shed.  It was without exaggeration one of the finest team performances that Western Australia had ever seen and a match where both teams performed with courage, tenacity, honour and purpose.

AUSTRALIA: Hayden, Katich, Ponting, Hussey, Clarke, Symonds, Haddin, Lee, Krezja, Johnson, Clark

SOUTH AFRICA: Smith, McKenzie, Amla, Kallis, de Villiers, Duminy, Boucher, MMorkel, Harris, Steyn, Ntini

Eric Hollies Medal Points

1000AB de VilliersTop scored in the first innings and a serene unbeaten hundred in the second dig enabled his team to chase down their highest score in the fourth innings.

800 – Graeme Smith – A second innings century set the platform for his team’s chase while his command as captain was calm, assured and tactically secure.

600 – Jacques Kallis – Ripped the heart out of Australia’s second innings taking three wickets while conceding less than two an over and twice steadied his team’s batting with resolute half centuries.

600 – Mitchell Johnson – Took eleven of the 14 wickets snared by the home team.

480 – Brad Haddin – Twice settled the middle order with innings of 46 and 94 while picking up six catches.

360 – Simon Katich – A typically gritty fighting knock enabled Australia to gain control of the match on the first day after Hayden, Ponting and Hussey all departed in the first six overs of the match.

steynAfter such a seesawing first Test hopes were high when the teams arrived in Melbourne for the Boxing Day match and few were disappointed at the standard of cricket on display. Again the momentum swung on a near session by session basis for the first two days before JP Duminy and Dale Steyn rescued South Africa with a fortunate yet deserving 180 run partnership on the third before Steyn routed the home team on the fourth. South Africa ended up winning by nine wickets and in doing so secured their first ever Test series victory on Australian soil.

AUSTRALIA: Hayden, Katich, Ponting, Hussey, Clarke, Symonds, Haddin, Lee, Johnson, Hauritz, Siddle

SOUTH AFRICA: Smith, McKenzie, Amla, Kallis, de Villiers, Duminy, Boucher, MMorkel, Harris, Steyn, Ntini

Eric Hollies Medal Points

1000 – Dale Steyn – Ten wickets and 76 runs in a monumental performance.

800 – JP Duminy – Arriving at the crease with his team four down and almost 300 in arrears he was last out for 169 and his mature batting with the tail was exceptional for a man in only his second Test.

600 – Graeme Smith – Two half centuries, one gritty and determined the other aggressive and bold. His slip catching and leadership was again instrumental.

600 – Ricky Ponting – The skipper twice led from the front with innings of 101 and 99.

480 – Michael Clarke – His first innings of 88 not out got his team out of a pickle and in doing so they were able to score a competitive first innings total.

360 – Peter Siddle – On his home ground he bowled with heart and attitude and was unlucky to not achieve a five-for in the first dig.

smith-injuredThe third Test in Sydney may have been a dead rubber but that did not lessen the intensity of the contest or the determination displayed by the players. For the third consecutive time Australia batted first and put themselves in a good position but unlike the last two Tests the visitors were unable to conjure a record performance to gain victory. The Test will be fondly remembered for Graeme Smith’s intent, example and courage batting at eleven in the second innings with a broken hand and it earned the previously maligned and unfairly disrespected South African skipper an overwhelming and emotional standing ovation as well as the admiration of the entire Australian cricketing community.

AUSTRALIA: Hayden, Katich, Ponting, Hussey, Clarke, McDonald, Haddin, Johnson, Hauritz, Siddle, Bollinger

SOUTH AFRICA: Smith, McKenzie, Amla, Kallis, de Villiers, Duminy, Boucher, MMorkel, Harris, Steyn, Ntini

Eric Hollies Medal Points

1000 – Michael Clarke – A big first innings century, quick runs to set up the declaration in the second and some outstanding fielding while obviously injured.

800 – Peter Siddle – Cleaned up the opposition tail in the first innings and took another three on the fifth afternoon in a performance that proved that he is of international class.

600 – Mitchell Johnson – A wonderful allround performance saw him score 64 in a 142 run eighth wicket partnership, take four quality top order wickets and secure a brilliant run out at an important juncture.

600 – Mark Boucher – His 89 in the first dig saved his team from an embarrassing total and brought them back into the match.

480 – Hashim Amla – Superbly crafted half centuries in both innings.

360 – Graeme Smith – His decision to cut off his cast and attempt to save the match will have benefits for his team and nation’s cricket for many years to come.

In summary, this series was one of the finest this century with only India’s tour of five years previous comparable. South Africa, after ten Test series undefeated and their first win on Australian soil, should be recognised as the world’s premier Test nation. However, the mathematicians employed by the ICC reckon that they need to defeat Australia at home to achieve that status. It seems harsh but it does add extra spice to the return contest that begins in two days time.

Soon: The retrospective continues with a wrap of all the ODIs contested this summer.

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Responses

  1. Yes – the return match is an enticing prospect!

  2. Im biting my nails with anticipation for the return tour. It comes on the back of my move to Australia, so I get a good view of how the Aussies react to their cricket from the inside out !

  3. Welcome to the lucky country Damith. I think you’ll find that on the whole, Australians just want to see an excellent standard of cricket. Of course we love to win but if we play well and a better team beats us then there aren’t too many complaints. Or to use the Australian vernacular, “we cop it sweet”.

    The first Test starts tomorrow night so not long to wait. The team I’d like to see take the field regardless of conditions is;

    Katich, Hughes, Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, North, Haddin, Johnson, McGain, Siddle, Hilfenhaus.

    They’ll fight hard win, lose or draw and you can’t ask for more than that.

  4. Should he be dropped It’d be a bit tough on McDonald. He did contribute towards a winning team the last time Australia played a test. And against South Africa as well. I don’t think dropping him would be such a smart move by the selectors for that reason. Same with Bollinger. Stick with a winning team I say..

    • Fair enough Pete, although Bollinger hardly impressed on his home patch in Sydney and North has shown his class of late, in Potchefstroom and before he left Australia in his last match at Hobart.

      Do you really believe that McDonald could win a Test with an outstanding individual performance? I don’t but I’d be very happy to be proved wrong!

  5. Well North is a better batsman than Ronnie and deserves selection as much as anyone, so good on him. Hilfenhaus or Bollinger? From what the press is saying, they’ll probably play both, with McGain/Hauritz missing out. Hilf was up and down in the ODI series but he smacks of swinging quality. It’s a bit tough to judge Bollie on one test match. I just don’t get to see enough state cricket to really judge someone like Bollinger.

    • I’d rather they play McGain for balance and for the fact that wrist-spinners spook South Africa.

      Hilfy can bowl uphill into the wind all day and his first ball is as quick as his last. Also he is a genuine outswing bowler in all conditions that regularly gets a wicket in his opening spell. Hilfy is not a great ODI bowler but with the red ball he is a demon especially on pitches with a little bit in them like Bellerive and if form stays true, The Wanderers.

      I’ve seen Doug and Hilfy bowl on the same pitch three times in the last three years and every time Hilfy has troubled the batsmen more. Hilfy is seen as a certainty for England so they may as well get a few Tests under his belt beforehand.

      If they both play I guess we’ll know who is the more likely to keep their place at the end of the first Test.


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