Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Best of Enemies – Test Review

The Best of Enemies – Test Review
Test cricket is certainly not dead (A frequent answer to it’s more frequent question). One expected this tour to be a close competition and it turned out to be just like that, with a few unexpected twists and turns, plenty of nail-biting/ hair-pulling/ head-scratching moments all in the space of a measly two-test series.
Debutants Pat Cummins and Vernon Philander, who acclaimed MOTM and MOTS respectively, proved their names to be the future of test cricket with outstanding performances. There’s something about Cummins – the boy has natural pace and, as Clarke mentioned at the presentation, this needs to be preserved and nurtured. Philander has also got something that could prove to be an asset to the future of South African test cricket.
It’s a pity that these two sides only got to play for the limited amount of time that they did, but it kept us captivated nonetheless. AUS missing out on the lowest ever total , Graeme Smith making a much awaited century, Hash proving to the world once again why he’s SA’s ‘bearded wonder’, an 18 year old Pat Cummins being the second youngest Aussie in history to represent his country in this format – being some of the highlights this series had to offer.
Now, about the happenings of yesterday…SA (and by SA, I mean Philander) seemed to have the Aussies reeling by making the breakthroughs in times of pressure, Tahir (whom I’m sure people expected just a little more from), Steyn (who gave away bulk of the runs – possibly having a bad day) and Morkel (with the best economy) chipped in with a wicket each, but to no avail. The Aussies had other plans, even though 310 was thought to be a big ask, they successfully chased (with the helpful half-centuries of Khawaja, Haddin and a career defining knock for Ponting) what now is the highest second innings chase at the Wanderers (and yes, they hold the second highest too).
All in all, an AUS comeback was due after the first match and they didn’t disappoint. Clarke was ecstatic at the results of the match, a bit relieved at the final result – that being a draw, and having teenage Cummins hit the winning boundary made their visit all the more special. SA on the other hand, will be a little disappointed having not won a series against the Baggy Greens, on home soil, in ages.
While AUS may be satisfied with the result, SA still has a few things to work out. And with Sri Lanka visiting them soon, I would say that time is of the essence and that the Proteas ought to sought through any issues developed as a result of a lack in test exposure. As for Gary and Donald having an effect on the Saffas state of play, there is still much for the team to experience under their guidance and at this point, it’s too early to decipher.
The Best of Enemies tour passed us like a bolt of lightning and yet some of the best and most memorable test cricket had occurred in that period, breathing new life into this format of the game. The next time SA vs AUS, will be in the Aussies’ back yard and if it proves to be anything like what this tour has been, forget any other format and give me more Tests instead.
Surekha Bhugeloo for DieHard Cricket Fans

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