South Africa’s 309 thumping of Australia in the final test in Perth was a disappointing end to what was a pretty even series. Australia’s back up bowlers failed to live up to expectation, while the batsmen just failed altogether. With the series against Sri Lanka just around the corner, Michael Clarke and his men need to get things right quick and fast.
Ed Cowan – He had an awful start to his game when Dale Steyn rolled him first ball. A fighting 50 in the second innings that looked set to take the game into Day 5, before a rash shot brought him undone. (4.5/10)
David Warner – Two starts for two failures. The shot that got him out in the first innings was nothing short of despicable and wasted his good platform, before being undone by Philander in the opening over of Day 4. He has credits though. (4/10)
Shane Watson – His first game back saw his bowling limited, but he was back to his economical self. Like Warner, he got two starts but was undone by some good bowling. He will be better for the run. (5/10)
Ricky Ponting – It was shattering for the great man to be ineffective in either innings. If there’s any consolation, his four in the first innings will make up for being four short of a century in his debut at the WACA, 17 years ago. (2/10)
Michael Clarke – It was the first game where he’s been kept quiet. He was part of the collapse that Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn brought about, but he can only blame himself for unnecessarily running down the wicket at Robin Peterson. Also it was the first game where it seemed like he was out of ideas. (5/10)
Michael Hussey – Like Clarke, it was the first time where he was quiet all summer. It seems that the Aussies are used to Mr Cricket digging the side out of trouble. He was only able to do that momentarily in this game. (4/10)
Matthew Wade – A much better performance with the mitts this time around, conceding only four byes and securing four catches. He also batted exceptionally amongst the first innings debacle, until his brain fade against Robin Peterson triggered the late order collapse. (6/10)
John Hastings – He started his debut well enough with an economical twenty overs, the wicket of AB de Villiers and a fighting 31 that kept the Aussies in the game. He was brought crashing down to earth though with 102 off 19 wicketless overs. It was a solid enough debut nonetheless. (4.5/10)
Mitchell Johnson – He was arguably the pick of the bowlers, with seven wickets including a seriously quick spell late on day three. Not quite back to his best and not swinging it yet, but is showing signs of improvement. He took some great catches in the field too. (6.5/10)
Mitchell Starc – He also had a solid game with the ball with eight wickets, although they came at a much heavier price. Was the target of Graeme Smith’s and Hashim Amla’s rout on day two, but was far from the Aussie’s worse. (5.5/10)
Nathan Lyon – He took three wickets on day one and proved that Perth can accommodate for spin bowling. However, his insistence on bowling on a flat track was found out by the Proteas, particularly by de Villiers who teased him on the way to 169. (5/10)
Batting – The patience and composure seen in Brisbane was nowhere to be seen by most, particularly late in the first innings and early in the second innings when cool heads were needed. While the Saffers undoubtedly bowled well, most of the batsman must take responsibility for their poor shot selection. The top order is still a worry as per usual.
Bowling – They made the most of the early grass on day one, but seemed unthreatening when the ball was old and soft. Lyon was toyed with by the Proteas and the second string attack was dispatched with ease in the second innings. It was interesting to see the depth of fast bowling tested though, with the nation’s first four options out injured.
Overall Grade: D+
South African line-up:
Graeme Smith – He will be happy to retain the number one ranking as skipper despite an average tour with the willow. He lost another start as he nicked off in the first dig, but found form with a solid 80 as he teed off with Hashim Amla, only to hole out to a Nathan Lyon screamer. (6/10)
Alviro Petersen – If he is ever asked about his job, he should reply with ‘I throw away starts for a living.’ Two scores in the twenties, but had to watch on whilst his teammates cashed in with big runs. He is obviously a quality player but didn’t make the most of his opportunities. (5/10)
Hashim Amla – He was crucified by de Villiers in the first innings, needlessly run out but made up for it in the second innings. He played with controlled aggression as he pierced gaps with consummate ease. The easiest run-a-ball century you’ll ever see. (8.5/10)
Jacques Kallis – He had a quiet one for a change, Kallis still was not at his fittest for this game. He played with aggression in the second innings as he looked to force the pace with Amla, but his best work was done in the previous test as he blunted the Australian attack with sheer boredom. It would have been great to see one more innings from him from a neutral point of view.
AB de Villiers – The scene was set for de Villiers to play his natural game as they looked to put the Aussies out of the contest. He played with freedom for the first time on the tour as he drove, pulled and reverse swept his way to a devastating century. He could well have made a double century if he had not thrown his wicket away in the search of quick runs. (8/10)
Dean Elgar – You’re struggling if you make the same contribution as JP Duminy on this tour. A pair as he came unstuck against a Mitchell Johnson barrage of short balls. Kudos for trying though. (0.1/10)
Faf du Plessis – He had a fall from grace, only making 80 in the first innings out of a total of 225. Came in and played his part in the second innings, consolidating a hundred-run partnership with de Villiers. He is set for a move up the batting order. (7.5/10)
Robin Peterson –He was sent on the tour to mix Gatorade until Tahir was slapped to all parts of Adelaide. Played his role with six wickets, including the one of Ponting in his final innings. He may well have resurrected his Test career, which previously consisted of one Test Match in eight years
Dale Steyn – With Philander, broke the game wide open on the second morning with a fine display of fast bowling. His delivery to get Clarke on Day Two seems simple but will forever be appreciated by those who appreciate seam bowling. He was unplayable in the first dig. (8/10)
Vernon Philander – It was a welcome return to the ‘Best attack in the world’. He hit the seam constantly, decking it both ways and beat the bat regularly. It seems innocuous to those who watch him, but he has proven to be a vital cog to the Proteas’ attack. He took four key wickets in Perth (7/10)
Morne Morkel – He took a back seat in Perth but was still very hard to get away. He used the WACA’s steepling bounce to his advantage and locked down an end whilst Steyn bowled his pace and hostility. He was the pick of the bowlers on the tour (6.5/10)
Batting – It was a tale of two innings. Du Plessis rescued them to 225 in the first dig, but set off on seeking revenge for Adelaide as they pasted the Australian attack at over five an over and batted them out of the game.
Bowling – Nothing spectacular. It was a testament to the fact that disciplined lines and lengths will hold you in good stead. A partnership bowling between Steyn and Philander finally showed its devastating side on the second day as they shredded through the Australian top order and set up the South African victory.
Overall Grade: B+