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That was mental!!!!
It seems that everyone is banging on about the date 11.11.11. Sure it looks pretty nice but the 10th of November 2011 will go down in history and be etched on cricket lovers brains for years to come as the craziest day of Test Cricket. We are still catching our breath 8 or 9 hours after the event.
Day 2 in Cape Town saw four innings in one day. Day 2 in Cape Town saw Australia perform the Great Escape to avoid the lowest ever cricket score of 26 despite momentarily teetering on 21-9. Day 2 in Cape Town saw Australia avoid scoring their lowest ever cricket score of 36 but still record their lowest total for 109 years and their fourth lowest in history. Australia’s Day 2 scorecard was reading more like a telephone number until Nathan Lyon and Peter Siddle saved their blushes (somewhat). Day 2 in Cape Town saw the loss of 23 wickets at the expense of 294 runs.
With so much happening in the Australian second innings, it’s easy to completely forget that only hours earlier Shane Watson ripped through the South Africans bowling them out for a paltry 96 with figures of 5-17. It’s days like these that you are reminded that cricket is the greatest sport in the world. And more enjoyment can be garnered from 1 day’s Test cricket than 100 one day internationals or T20s.
South Africa started the day on top of the Australians after some excellent bowling from Dale Steyn on day 1. The initiative was quickly wrestled back in Australia’s favour thanks to the efforts of Michael Clarke and Peter Siddle putting on 59 for the 9th wicket and seeing them to a modest but better-than-expected 284. South Africa started their innings well and their 43-1 prelude before lunch gave no indication to the dramatics that would unfold in the afternoon session and beyond. Watson and Harris ripped through the South Africans as their middle order and tail read as follows: Amla 3; Kallis 0; De Villiers 8; Prince 0; Boucher 4; Philander 4; Steyn 9*: Morkel 1; Tahir 5. A full length attacking the stumps was the order of the hour. Australia led by 188 on a lively track. A lead of 300-350+ would surely have been insurmountable.
The pendulum had immeasurably swung in Australia’s direction.
Whether the South Africans truly believed they could rattle the Aussies the way they did is up for debate. The one thing you could tell in a Tony Greigesque accent from their aggression and attitude was they were pissed off. Whilst the Australians bowled full and wicket to wicket, the South Africans were getting the ball to nibble around that little bit more.
Despite dismissing Watson early, South African talisman Dale Steyn was somewhat off the boil and down on pace. Perhaps the couple of hours break between giving blood, sweat and tears in the first innings was not enough recovery time. Debutant Vernon Philander (5-15) bowled a Watson-like wicket to wicket line accounting for lbw victims Ponting, Clark and Marsh (coming in at number 10 due to back problems).
Australia’s problems did not lie in the pitch however. On a few occasions it was some idiotic stroke making that let them down. Mike Hussey, ‘king of the leave’ as the only bright spark in the Ashes, played loosely away from his body at a ball he could have avoided. What Brad Haddin was thinking, running down the track to Philander and flailing a catch straight to Mark Boucher on his 3rd ball, only he’ll know.
The Australian score card read Watson 4; Hughes 9; Ponting 0; Clarke 2; Hussey 0; Haddin 0; Johnson 3; Harris 3; Siddle 12* (double figures, hooray!); Marsh 0; Lyon 12. At 21-9, a final wicket partnership that eclipsed the combined scores of the rest of the team saved a lot of blushes. But the only way you can sugarcoat 47 all out is perhaps pondering it could have been worse.
Through Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla, South Africa went on to show that the horrors in the pitch were instead more in their and Australia’s minds, taking them to 81 for 1 at the close needing another 155 runs for victory and 3 whole days to accomplish that feat.
On a day that could not see-saw anymore you could be forgiven for having heart palpitations on the last ball of the day as Amla tried to repeat an exquisite cover drive only to thick edge to Mike Hussey in the gully who dropped an absolute sitter by his and anyone standards for that matter.
Did I forget to mention Michael Clarke’s 150? It was arguably his best knock in international cricket but still couldn’t make it into the highlights package of the day.
Catch a breath and enjoy the rest of the match!
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