Interesting first day of real cricket for the South Africans in almost a year. The best bowler in the world (and a very impressive debutant), combined with a compliant pitch and a lot of ball movement to give the points to them on day one.
As a long time admirer of Boucher, it was nice to see him take his 500th catch in test cricket. He is a rough hard nut cricketer who pushes the boundaries and I like that.
I haven’t read the general coverage of the day yet, but if I don’t read “Clarke seemed to be batting on a different pitch” then I will (for once) be quite impressed with the mainstream media. It is a typical and easy statement, when he has scored half of the runs and top scored by 60-odd. But it is lazy and wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, he batted extremely well, and was a pleasure to watch – it’s been a while since I have been able to say that. Potentially this may be a little unfair, but I have been revisiting the most recent Ashes series with a sensational book – Australian Autopsy by Jarod Kimber, a fantastic recreation of the series in a very Australian manner, I really can’t recommend it enough. Anyway, this reminded me of how annoyed I was with Clarke last Aussie summer when he clearly shouldn’t have been playing, and batted like a geriatric cripple.
He didn’t today.
He batted well, very well. He put the bad balls away, and after surviving a semi-torrid opening, generally looked comfortable. That said, he didn’t face any of the balls that did Watson, Ponting, Hughes and Hussey in.
Those were absolute pearlers.
If Watson played straighter rather than to leg, he may – MAY – have gotten away with it, but even I can’t criticise him for going out to that one.
Hughes showed something today. Without ever looking like he was going to bat all day, he looked different somehow. He looked like he might be able to play some test cricket after all. I don’t know though, he may be teasing me – I’m not ready to commit to a relationship with Phil Hughes just yet.
All in all, once it eventually got going, and made it worth taking a day of annual leave, it was a good day of cricket. South Africa won the toss, bowled well and took advantage of some generous conditions.
But, as Alan Border mentioned, until we see South Africa bat (and whether Mitch shows up), it’s hard to say how far ahead, if at all, they are.
This could be a fun game (or not if Smith and Kallis bat for the next 2 days)!