Clark exposes South Africans' flaws
Monday 20 March 2006
South Africa's tactic of preparing a seaming pitch for the Australians here failed miserably in the first Test. Not that the pitch, watered two days before the match, was to blame for the seven-wicket defeat completed on Saturday. Poor defensive techniques and bad shot selection undid the hosts. And Shaun Pollock was missed.
Stuart Clark, Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting and the wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist had the strongest influence.
Clark, the lofty newcomer from New South Wales, was impressive. By nature inclined to operate on a holding length, the paceman realised that a surface offering movement and steep, slow bounce could best be exploited with a fullish length. He carried out his plan superbly: batsmen were not allowed to play off the back foot. Only Andre Nel was as threatening, and that only fitfully.
Hayden's first-innings 94 was crucial. The Queensland opener is more imposing when he does not try to impose himself, and the partnership with his captain Ponting was much the highest of the contest.
Meanwhile, South Africa were left to rue the inability of any of the senior batsmen to reach 40. Shonky batting techniques were exposed. Herschelle Gibbs has been bowled eight times in his past 10 outings, A B de Villiers keeps driving with his head up and Graeme Smith's pads are taking a pasting. Time to go back to the basics.
l The West Indies were thankful for bad light ending play early on the third day of the second Test against New Zealand in Wellington yesterday. The tourists were struggling at 118 for 4 in their second innings - still trailing the Black Caps' first-innings by 62. Nathan Astle claimed the prize wicket of Brian Lara, surely playing his last Test match in New Zealand, for only one with a poor delivery that the former Windies captain lobbed to Hamish Marshall in the covers.
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