Australia knocks woeful South Africa out of the park, winning by a whopping 107 runs
JOHANNESBURG – If Mark Boucher and his coaching staff were looking for an improved performance with the ball, based on lessons learned from the series loss to England last week, they didn’t see it here from South Africa on Friday night.
Bowling coach Charl Langeveldt claimed he’d given the bowlers ‘homework’ in the days leading up to the opening match of this series, but he’d better check what they submitted, because if what they implemented here on Friday night is anything to go by, then the whole curriculum needs to be ripped up.
South Africa bowled too short, there were 12 wides and the yorkers everyone talked about bowling last week were, but for a handful last night, absent too. It was ill-disciplined and unbecoming of a professional unit who seem better at making excuses - like ‘the yorker is a really difficult ball to execute,’ - than actually getting out on the field and doing their jobs properly.
It would be easy to call for vast changes, but then this is the best there is in the country right now, something Langeveldt had to acknowledge a few days ago. As such the onus is on them to improve and for Langeveldt and Boucher to show patience.
Australia smashed 70 runs in the Power Play with Aaron Finch and Steve Smith dining out on a variety of shorts balls, wide ones and then over-pitched ones. Out in the field the performances matched the bowling.
Dale Steyn missed Finch when he had yet to score, later Matthew Wade was the beneficiary of a mix up between debutant Pite van Biljon and Kagiso Rabada on the boundary and in the final over Tabraiz Shamsi and Quinton de Kock did a little dance as neither moved toward a ball that floated and then dropped in between them.
Smith top scored for the tourists with 45, neither he nor David Warner, the main protagonists in the drama that rocked the Test series between the two teams here in 2018, copped any major sledging from the crowd - probably the result of the Eastern stand, which is usually filled with more colourful characters, being declared off limits for safety reasons.
South Africa were just able to keep Australia under 200 thanks to a couple of good overs at the back end from Steyn and Smasi who both finished with figures of 2/31.
Australia then delivered a lesson with the ball; that Langeveldt would do well to record and hand over to his bowlers. Balls were aimed at the stumps and the short ball was utilised as a weapon, by the outstanding Pat Cummins, not merely chucked into the middle of the pitch, sitting up asking to be hit.
South Africa’s batsmen just couldn’t handle it. They collapsed as the pressure intensified handing left-arm spinner Ashton Agar a hat-trick, the thirteenth all time in this format and the second by an Australian.
It all ended up being the worst batting display by the Proteas as well, with the 89 all out eclipsing the 98 all against Sri Lanka in Colombo two years ago.
It was a sobering lesson for the South Africans who despite the series loss to England, found many positives. That series may have been deemed as the team making progress, this performance last night saw them take several steps back.
South Africa 89
Australia win by 107 runs
Man of the Match: Ashton Agar (Australia)@shockerhess