The "green Mamba" pitch at Durban strikes again and its venom is clearly getting stronger as the days click over.
Australia's lower order folded at 352, a score that at any other time would be considered the bare minimum to defend and stay competitive. With all the talk of Johnson now pushing all-rounder status, a duck seemed to burst that bubble and one could not help but wonder if some of the hype had gone to his head... then he was given the ball!
Johnson, showing that he is now well entrenched as an international cricketing superstar, battered South Africa into a bloody pulp! With able assistance from McDonald, and another super tight and constrictive bowling effort from Siddle, Australia truly appear to have the bowling formula and combinations required now to take twenty wickets. Of course a front line spinner is the one key element missing, but unless Hilfenhaus takes it up another notch his position may well be used as the interchange bench. As previously stated, clearly it is desirable to give him as much test experience as possible when England will offer him the best conditions for his talents.
Where as in the Sydney test with Smith missing due to his hand injury Australia felt they had a real chance, his absence again (thanks to a 151km/h Johnson missile) looks unlikely to be the decisive factor in a match where more Australian batsman compiled some sort of score than South Africans. Hussey must consider his 50 a career saver given his recent test form. McKenzie just doesn't do enough regularly and one can't help but wonder how he keeps his spot when RSA cricket looks so good now!
Still, given the momentous turn-arounds all summer between these sides, only a fool would write South Africa off at this (or any!) stage. With two days to go, it once again seems likely that the competitive nature and skills of these teams will provide a full five days of test cricket.
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