The first match of Australia’s International Summer of Cricket was all but over as a contest very early with the home team suffering another of their patented top order collapses that has plagued the team for some time. Their reign as World Champions seemingly nearing its end with an historical low ranking and just two wins from their last 19 matches.
Despite fighting innings from Alex Carey and Nathan Coulter-Nile, the Aussies failed to respond after it top order was rocked by a brilliant spell from Dale Steyn. Losing their first three wickets for just eight runs, the soft underbelly of the middle order was exposed. Although getting starts each player was dismissed cheaply meaning the innings failed to gain any kind of momentum.
The abject failure of the Australians was highlighted by the almost untroubled manner in which the Proteas chased down the target. Quinton de Kock and Reeza Hendricks combined for a 94-run opening partnership which all but saw their team home. A few late wickets to Marcus Stoinis provided the eternal optimists some hope but it was no avail with the visitors recording a comprehensive six wicket win with over 20 overs of their innings remaining.
Knee Jerk Reaction
- Is a buttock abscess the most embarrassing way you can miss an ODI?
- This team has no chance of defending the World Cup next year.
- Is this really the best batting line up Australia can field?
- Did anybody tell Perth there was a game on?
- When are Smith and Warner back?
Australia has no answer to the moving ball.
It has been a far too familiar tale for the national team in recent time with the batters either unable or unwilling to combat the challenges of a ball that swings, seams or spins more than they are used to. While most judges would contend that the visitors got the better of the conditions on offer, it is not excuse for the Australians woeful attempts to set a defendable target.
With trips to England for the World Cup and the Ashes ahead, and the difficulties the atmospheric conditions that part of the world presents, Justin Langer might not be far away from regretting his decision to take on the coaching job.
Learned: Chris Lynn would make a terrible umpire.
While Aaron Finch was at pains to explain he alone was at fault for his LBW dismissal, a little bit of help from his partner Chris Lynn wouldn’t have gone astray. The delivery did hit Finch in front of middle stump but, especially in Perth, appeared to be travelling well over the top of the stumps.
Unfortunately for Finch, this wasn’t the feedback he received from Lynn who agreed with the umpires decision of out. Fair to say that on this small sample size, the big-hitting Queenslander mightn’t make the greatest umpire. The same applies for Aleem Dar but let’s leave that for another discussion.
A champions return.
The last time we saw Dale Steyn on our shores he was being assisted from the WACA with a series ending injury back in 2016. Despite being a long-time thorn in the Australians side, it fears were held that it might prove the last time we saw him in action here.
Fortunately (or unfortunately if you ask Travis Head and Darcy Short) he has come back from this setback as good as ever. While we might be hoping Aaron Finch and his men find a way to blunt his effectiveness, we are very glad we get to see this champion of the game strut his stuff in Australia one last time.
A tail enders fight.
The Australian top and middle orders meekly surrendered in the face of the South Africa attack leaving it to a wicket keeper and a bowler to build a somewhat respectable total to defend. While Alex Carey and Nathan Coulter-Nile went about their work in contrasting styles both displayed a fighting spirit that the rest of the team struggled to muster.
Coulter-Nile in the team for his bowling ability, but batting above a man with a Test Match 99 to his name, took the attack right up to the Proteas. In a rollicking 31-ball stay at the crease the 31-year-old Western Australian breathed some life into the Australian innings with some lusty hitting.
Disliked: Australia collapse again
All too often in recent times in all three forms of the game the Australian batting line up has folded quicker than a deck of cards. While some commentators pointed to the late withdrawal of Shaun Marsh as a destabilising factor, Australian Cricket is in serious trouble if the hopes of the team rise and fall on whether or not the veteran left-hander has a buttock abscess.
The return of Steve Smith and David Warner can’t come soon enough but even this duo will have their work cut out reviving the teams fortunes if the technical flaws at the heart of these collapses isn’t addressed.
Disliked: Nobody watched.
Once upon a time One Day International Cricket provided the life blood upon which the other forms of the game operated in this country. How far the format has fallen in the national consciousness was starkly illustrated by this contest being the first home ODI not shown on free to air television and the low numbers of people who chose to view it live or on Pay-TV.
Possibly using the same spectator counting technology the AFL uses in China, Cricket Australia announced a crowd figure of 24,342. Even taking this number at face value, it is a disappointing turn out for the first game of the summer but even worse news was in store with the ratings came in. After Foxtel’s investment in a cricket channel, audience figures of 205,000 are far from what they were expecting when compared with the numbers they get for the likes of V8 Supercars and International Rugby League.