West Indies resume on 91/6 and look absolutely doomed, trailing Australia by the width of the Pacific Ocean
South Africa resume on 137/6, 166 runs behind England with Dean Elgar on 67* and the tail tantalisingly close
Two contrasting tests, but worrying noises coming from each of them. The action in Melbourne is sadly predicatable. Australia’s top order made hay, compiling four centuries, and then routed the top order. I’ve seen a lot of comparisons to Bangladesh here, but this is more worrying than that. The decline is precipitous. There are good players here, playing incredibly badly. Samuels is no muppet but is playing like one. The bowling isn’t great, but it isn’t these record partnership or appalling scores bad. What is going on here? I’d be dead surprised if, on waking up tomorrow morning, this game isn’t over. It would take a resistance not seen thus far. Here’s hoping, but this lot look shot. That’s shot.
Meanwhile in Durban there are worrying noises about AB and Steyn packing it in after this series. AB is 32 in February. He’s brought so much joy to us in the past couple of years in particular. He’s the little guy who can do unbelievable things. If he is to retire to the circus of T20 and ODI, I fear for tests. The story reportedly is being denied, but would you think it is outside the bounds of possibility?
TLG has done his thing below – if you haven’t read his round-up, please do – but I’d add a little comment on Dean Elgar. His innings has been incredibly important, and looks even mores so given the travails of two of the home team’s rocks – Amla looks a pale shadow of the colossus of three years ago, and Du Plessis is so far adrift, he could be disappearing over the horizon. Elgar, unheralded, largely unloved and certainly not one for the purists has grafted, had some luck, but is still there. He’s scored at a pacier clip than Compton who has come under some stick from many quarters, but is doing much the same job.
This test is a slow burner, but you must praise the way Stuart Broad has bowled. Now the brains of the outfit has little time for us bloggers, but we aren’t all bad, and his dismissal of AB was a work of beauty. I could almost hear Glenn Gregory’s most famous concentration as the leg cutter induced AB to poke his bat out to it, and the nick might have sealed South Africa’s fate. Elgar and Bavuma resume tomorrow with the hopes of the Proteas on their shoulders. After these two, there’s Duminy and the bowlers. This could get ugly, this could get decent. As TLG says, that’s why we watch test match cricket.
The next Dmitri Award post will be up on the blog during the day (I have two more on the stocks), and TLG will be on day review duty. Keep the comments coming.
Almost forgot, there’s an ODI too in New Zealand. Sri Lanka have won the toss and are batting.