FLEM’S VERDICT: Gulf in class as big as MCG itself with Aussies running rings around bumbling Proteas

    At least we got a four-day Test this time, I much prefer them to a two-day affair.

    Day four of the second Test at the MCG with Australia polishing off South Africa highlighted the enormous gulf in class between these two sides.

    For the Aussies they were clinical and a few of their player managed to bring up some significant milestones.

    But for the Proteas, there’s not much to write home about. 

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    Anrich Nortje can hold his head up high with his fast bowling spells, Marco Jansen continues to show promise and Kyle Verreynne and Temba Bavuma displayed some fight but that was about it.

    (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

    The run-outs they coughed up to Australia were just basic stuff, junior level errors.

    Backing up at the non-striker’s end, turning blind, being precise with your calling – these are what we’re taught in the under 12s but they were terrible in these areas.

    Theunis De Bruyn was drifting out of his crease and given a warning twice but it wasn’t like he was trying to steal a massive head-start, he just didn’t look to be switched on.

    Starc gives a warning to De bruyn, for the run-out on non striker end. #AUSvSA pic.twitter.com/3Tc4QSGYcs

    — Resanth. (@Cric_Resanth) December 29, 2022

    Bavuma turned blind in the run-out with Keshav Maharaj, these are the basics. 

    I’d be making it a focus of their training all week in the lead-up to the Sydney Test, not just in running between wickets but in batting and bowling.

    Stuff like racking up some maidens which is not just down to the bowler – the captain can’t always plonk a fielder out at point or square leg as a sweeper to allow the Aussie batters to pinch an easy single whenever they get a chance.

    There has been a huge drop-off in their batting compared to the past teams that have toured Australia but in some ways their lack of impact with their bowling has been more significant in the first two Tests.

    Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi has been under par and Maharaj hasn’t done much for a spinner with a lot of Test wickets and has suffered from negative field settings.

    For the Aussies, this win by an innings is significant given that it’s been 17 years since we’ve beaten the Proteas in a series in Australia. 

    Nathan Lyon of Australia appeals. (Photo by Graham Denholm – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

    There were plenty of highlights with some key milestones.

    David Warner’s 200 in his 100th match was a standout and Alex Carey’s first Test hundred will be the first of many judging by the way he conducts himself at the crease.

    Cameron Green getting his first five-wicket haul and adding an unbeaten half-century was the first time he’s put together an all-round contribution with bat and bowl rather than just a wicket here or there.

    He’s racked up some big scalps in his Test career so far but he’d only ever taken three in an innings before this match. 

    Poor old Mitchell Starc battled through the pain of his finger injury and he will probably take a lot more wickets and bowl worse than his 1-60 in the second innings. 

    Pat Cummins is proud of his team for the efforts they put in at the MCG #AUSvSA pic.twitter.com/20L63RYoPc

    — 7Cricket (@7Cricket) December 29, 2022

    If he hadn’t been able to bowl, the South Africans would probably have been able to take this into a fifth day.

    This pitch didnt break up stump to stump, it played pretty well for a day-four wicket. There was not much seam or turn for Nathan Lyon so Starc’s 18 overs were important in the context of getting the match over and done with.

    I really do hope we get a traditional turning pitch in Sydney next week and Australia play two spinners. I love pitches like the old days that test everybody in the different cities in Australia.

    It’s looking like they’re going to play Lance Morris as a like-for-like replacement for Starc with Josh Hazlewood playing ahead of Scott Boland.

    That’d be a bit harsh on Boland but he’s enhanced his reputation yet again these past few Tests so he will get more opportunities in the near future if he isn’t given a run in Sydney.

    Morris would love to make his debut on a fast, bouncy pitch like Optus Stadium in Perth but with his ball speed and reverse swing capabilities, he can still make his mark at the SCG even though it might not totally suit him.

    I’d go with Ashton Agar as the replacement for Green and bump Carey up to No.6. Just with the Indian tour coming up it’s so important to have everyone in form so the best way to make sure Agar’s up to the task in India would be to play him in Sydney.

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