South Africa have given the Australians a fearful mauling. Looking hungrier, stronger and more disciplined, they continued their good work of the opening day to add 347 runs for the loss of three wickets. Despite his reservations, Ashwell Prince batted superbly as a makeshift opener.
Organised, defiant and nuggety, the left-hander contributed a convincing hundred. Apart from calculated assaults on Bryce McGain, a dainty leg spinner whose dream became a nightmare, the left-hander kept a constant tempo. Jacques Kallis also punished a lacklustre attack. After looking uneasy against bumpers, he drove cleanly, pulled powerfully and slaughtered the spinner as he broke a barren patch to reach his 31st Test hundred. By stumps Australia were facing heavy defeat and a 3-3 deadlock in matches between these sides this winter.
Prince presented a broad bat and watched the ball closely. Overall he scored 150 in 249 balls before gloving a leg-side lifter, a decision made by the third umpire after the previously faultless Steve Bucknor had shaken his head. He reached the 90s without undue difficulty whereupon he lashed out at McGain and reached three figures with two heated boundaries.
Thereafter he bashed the spinner and collected adroitly. Along the way he lost Imraan Khan as the novice drove without due care and attention and was snaffled by the deserving Peter Siddle. Hashim Amla also had the bowling at his mercy only to spurn his chance with a loose stroke. Here he reached 46 and flashed at Mitchell Johnson, once a tiger now a pussycat. Kallis gave the bowlers no such laxity. After taking an eternity to reach four, he cut loose against the forlorn spinner and then began to play sumptuous off-drives against the pacemen. Kallis reached 99 and then ran a single only for umpire Asad Rauf to signal leg bye as the batsmen and 10,405 spectators celebrated. After consultations the decision was reversed, a turn of events that displeased Ricky Ponting. Watching AB de Villiers cut loose against the second new ball in the final hour did little to improve his humour.
Among the bowlers only Siddle emerged unscathed. The same could not be said about McGain who ended with embarrassing figures, his 11 overs costing 102 runs, the most expensive figures in Test history. Australia's limitations, with ball and gloves, were exposed. England might not see much of McGain, a 36-year-old burdened with the nickname "Mr Magoo".