In a game that should have launched the Aussies to the top of the test rankings, South Africa dug deep to share the points for the second time on its tour of Australia. The hosts will rue some missed opportunities, as the Proteas battled hard and scraped home in another memorable test match between the two sides at Adelaide Oval.
Ed Cowan – He wasn’t able to replicate his Gabba form, losing his wickets after two positive starts. His partnership at the top of the order with David Warner is starting to look more promising, but he is still yet to reap a big opening stand since the Perth test last year. Also fielded securely at short leg (5/10)
David Warner – He made one of the most memorable centuries in recent memory, counter-attacking in the face of severe adversity. A fan favourite with his leg breaks, his dismissal of Hashim Amla was a key wicket on a batting friendly track. (7.5/10)
Rob Quiney – Undone by two jaffas, Quiney’s batting average of three will most likely not be improved on. A true shame that his economical medium pacers didn’t keep him in the squad. (0.5/10)
Ricky Ponting – Here come the doubters… his finishing position after being bowled by Kallis on the first day is an illustration of a man on his last legs. One more double failure may draw the curtains on one of Australia’s best ever. (2/10)
Michael Clarke – He is a man that can do no wrong. He’s coring runs for fun, with another double hundred with Mr. Cricket down the other end. He showed his attacking flair with an early declaration and it was nice to see him bowling again too. (9/10)
Michael Hussey – There isn’t a better man to play second fiddle to Michael Clarke. He added yet another hundred to his name, along with an energetic half century that set up Australia’s declaration. He’s one of Australia’s first picked right now. (8/10)
Matthew Wade – it was a rough game for the keeper. Two low scores and some fumbles behind the sticks that cost Australia dearly, including one to wipe from the memory bank. (3/10)
Peter Siddle – A lion-hearted effort from the Victorian quick had him on his knees by the end of the day. He kept the Aussies in it with a sniff late in the day as Faf Du Plessis and co. dug in. He will be even more effective at the fast-bowler-friendly WACA. He is simply inspirational (8/10)
James Pattinson – It was a shame that a side strain will rule him out of the summer. He swung like a rusty gate in both innings with handy runs, but the Aussies really missed him on the last day. (3.5/10)
Ben Hilfenhaus – Again, he looked unthreatening bowling with an old ball. Down on pace, the Tasmanian will retain his spot with Pattinson out of the side, but the Proteas look far too comfortable against him. (5.5/10)
Nathan Lyon – The spinner bowled superbly without much luck on the last day. It was a shame that the wicket played so truly, otherwise it would have been likely that he would have run through the middle order on the way to an early finish. He is looking more and more comfortable in the Australian outfit and should not be dropped despite moving to Perth for the next test. He just needs to flight the ball up a bit more. (8/10)
Batting – It took a really special effort to bang over 400 runs in a day, especially having been three down before lunch. However, losing six wickets for 60-odd runs is unacceptable under any circumstance, let alone at Adelaide. They did well to scrape runs together to set up the declaration in the second innings though and can sleep well knowing they did what they had to do. A fragile top orderis still a concern though.
Bowling – They definitely get an A for effort. They were superb to be able to get through almost 150 overs with only three specialist bowlers. It was a shame that the part-timers weren’t able to chip in with a wicket or two to get the side over the line. They were undone by a stubborn, stubborn debutant.
Overall Grade: B+
South African line-up:
Graeme Smith – He played a captains knock as he anchored the Proteas’ first innings, only to be dismissed third ball in the second dig. Perhaps he should have taken the initiative by bowling his own off spinners, as Tahir and Du Plessis were being slapped around, but he can be proud of his side’s efforts. (7.5/10)
Alviro Petersen – He’s a player that reeks of potential, but is lacking in cricket smarts. He unnecessarily ran out himself in the first innings having already made 50 and then was undone by his own lack of footwork as he tried to block his country to safety. In saying that, one gets the feeling that a big score is around the corner for him. (5/10)
Hashim Amla – It’s amazing to see a double failure from him, especially as he was undone by spin both times. He will never live down the fact he hit straight over the top of an innocuous David Warner leg-break, and then nicked an off spinner he need not have played at. (3/10)
Jacques Kallis – I’m simply amazed at his strength of character to bat on one leg and score two half centuries, having already snared two wickets early in the game. In fact, it was more entertaining to watch him bat down the order and bludgeon his way through the pain barrier. He did well to help Du Plessis through the middle and last session too. The best number nine we have ever seen. (8/10)
AB de Villiers – He put together he most memorably unconvincing innings in a while. Resigned to knowing South Africa could not win, the naturally flamboyant stroke-maker prodded, poked and blocked for four hours as he helped his side secure a draw. If nothing else, it was a testament to his strength of character. (5.5/10)
Jacques Rudolph – He was not the man to move up the order in the absence of Kallis. A flaw in his technique was exposed yet again, and was then undone by his own negativity in the second innings. He’s a man the Aussies can be confident of dislodging. (4.5/10)
Faf du Plessis – Even as a mad fan of the Aussies, I have massive respect for the man. He ran out of partners in the first innings and then played the innings of his life to rescue his country from the jaws of defeat. While his partners were resigned to blocking, his positivity was a sight to behold as he stroked his way to his maiden test hundred. Not a bad debut. (9/10)
Dale Steyn – He’s slowly finding his groove on Australian soil as he bounced back from a disappointing showing in Brisbane. He was the only bowler not to be spanked around on day one, despite a niggling hamstring injury. He may well have saved the proteas vital runs by dismissing Michael Hussey with the last ball of the day. (7/10)
Rory Kleinveldt – He proved many Aussies wrong by showing he wasn’t a complete and utter hack. He can be well pleased with his second innings showing as he tore through the Australian top order. Three wickets in three overs halted all Aussie momentum and brought South Africa back into the game. His no-balling is still an issue though. (6/10)
Morne Morkel – Again he was the pick of the bowlers. Again he bowled with no luck, particularly on the first day, but he was rewarded with eight wickets to his name as he suffocated the Aussies on the crucial second morning by dismissing Clarke and Wade. (8/10)
Imran Tahir – What a disastrous start to his debut on Australian soil. A mixture of confusion, negativity and inconsistency undid him. 0/260 off 28 overs. You do the math. (0.1/10)
Batting – It was courageous. They scraped themselves past the follow-on total with the help of Kallis on one hamstring, then fell over the line as Du Plessis occupied the crease for over seven hours. As a batting unit like the Aussies, too much was left to too few on this occasion.
Bowling – They should remember to never, ever bowl short at the Adelaide Oval. They were severely punished on the first day for bowling rubbish at three in-form batsmen, only for Morkel to rescue them. They were much tighter in the second innings and reaped the rewards. Tahir aside, the bowling unit should be looking forward to Perth, and Philander’s return will definitely help.
Overall Grade: B-