Talking Points: ‘Makes it even worse’ – The Cummins call that defied ‘logic’, Carey a keeper, Warner cops ice-cold sledge

    The equation is a simple one for Pat Cummins and his team: Australia has six sessions over two days to take another nine wickets.

    After Cummins decided to bat and bat and bat all the way to 8-575d, South Africa, who haven’t passed 200 in almost four Tests, were set 386 just to make the home side bat again.

    Unless they can find another Faf du Plessis to repeat his heroics from more than a decade ago, South Africa will head to Sydney for the New Year’s Test with the series out of reach.

    The early loss of Dean Elgar won’t help. The captain’s miserable series continued as he was strangled down the leg side off Cummins for a duck.

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    Opener Sarel Erwee (7) and first-drop Theunis de Bruyn (6) managed to survive seven overs over zip and swing to leave the Proteas 1-15 at the end of day three.

    Du Bruyn was helped by a dropped chance low to David Warner’s right, as the opener, who failed to add to his score on Wednesday after retiring on 200 yesterday afternoon, showed every bit of a tired man who cramped to the point of being assisted from the field.

    Warner puts it down … just!

    ???? Watch #AUSvSA on Ch. 501 or stream via @kayosports https://t.co/x3WmKIJJ5N
    BLOG https://t.co/MHolPpxIB6 ???? MATCH CENTRE https://t.co/VWSOJuubJi pic.twitter.com/yezsZnMZKs

    — Fox Cricket (@FoxCricket) December 28, 2022

    Here are our talking points from day three.

    Captain’s curious decision to bat on raised eyebrows

    After bowling South Africa out and piling on the runs, Australia was in no rush to send the tourists in to bat on day two.

    With an overnight lead of almost 200, Cummins decided to prolong the Proteas’ misery.

    Alex Carey’s successful quest for a maiden century was reason enough to continue to bat.

    Perhaps his chances to raise his bat was reason too for an injured Cameron Green, who was earlier ruled out of the third Test, to come out to bat again after fracturing a finger late on day two.

    But the moment Mitchell Starc was asked to go out to bat the logic went out the window.

    It was insanity to send an injured Starc out to bat when the first-innings lead was over 350.

    On 10, Starc copped a savage blow to the head attempted a hook shot off Marco Jansen. He was the second Australian to be struck in the helmet.

    The first? David Warner when he was well set on day on a hot but fine day for batting on a MCG road.

    Starc, on the other hand, was asked to go out to face the music when conditions were cool, clouds were overhead and the left-hander was nursing a hurt finger that drew blood on day one and continued to bleed on day three in the field.

    Small wonder the veteran quick signalled to his skipper to have a bowl after being struck in the head.

    “That makes it even worse, for me,” Ian Smith said in commentary for Fox Cricket.

    “He’s saying, have a bowl. Let’s have a bowl, isn’t he? It’s 8-575. Did he just motion to Pat Cummins saying we should be bowling?”

    Mike Hussey agreed: “I think you’re right Smithy. He said, ‘I couldn’t pick that up. Let’s have a bowl while it’s gloomy.’”

    Smith continued: “There’s a lead of 386. Sorry, I don’t see the logic in this. I really don’t.”

    (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

    He is right, and so was Kerry O’Keeffe who then chimed in.

    “Not often will you see a batter mouth, or gesture, to a captain that we should be bowling skipper,” O’Keeffe said.

    Cummins might well have believed he needed as many runs as possible given Green, who took five first-innings wicket, would not be able to bowl in the second-innings because of his fractured finger.

    He might have been concerned of being asked to chase down a small total on day five, particularly if the wicket starts to play tricks.

    But it was conservative cricket.

    Rain in the final session on day three, which meant Australia got through seven overs, meant South Africa were let off.

    They should have faced a testing 10 over period before tea.

    Instead, they will manage a proper night’s sleep to allow them some reprieve and give the visitors their best chance of survival on day four.

    Alex Carey celebrates a century with Cameron Green. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

    Duo show they’re made of tough stuff

    Anyone who doubted the ticker of Green and Starc need to think again.

    Green, who copped a rising ball on day two and was forced off with a finger injury, returned to bat on day three.

    The 23-year-old battled his way to his first half-century of the summer.

    He struggled for rhythm and pace in his innings, but his unbeaten 51 off 177 deliveries showed that he can survive even when he’s struggling.

    That should give him confidence.

    The sight of him running down the wicket with his arms aloft when Carey struck a ball through the covers to bring up three figures should endear him to the Australian public.

    Green is a team player.

    Teammate Starc also took one for the team and went down swinging before tea.

    After it, with blood coming out of his bowling finger, the left-armer tested the Proteas top order out with some fast, swing deliveries.

    It was tough stuff.

    ‘Goodness me, what are we seeing here!’

    Anrich Nortje is on FIRE to start Day 3 ????????????

    ???? Watch #AUSvSA on Ch. 501 or stream via @kayosports https://t.co/x3WmKIJJ5N
    ???? BLOG https://t.co/MHolPpxIB6
    ???? MATCH CENTRE https://t.co/VWSOJuubJi pic.twitter.com/iWxUoKxb1A

    — Fox Cricket (@FoxCricket) December 28, 2022

    Proteas quick worth the admission price alone for Sydney

    If there is one thing that gets the Australian public excited, it is fast bowling.

    Unfortunately in world cricket, there are very few speed demons at present.

    As crafty as many are, headed by Jimmy Anderson, in Australian conditions unless you can get bounce and extract movement off flat wickets, pace is what unsettles the home side’s batsmen.

    In Anrich Nortje, the Proteas have a man capable of consistently breaking the 150km/h mark.

    On day three, with Travis Head looking to continue on his merry way, the quick bowled the left-hander early on.

    Next ball Nortje removed Warner.

    It was brilliant bowling.

    Unfortunately he had little support from his teammates.

    But if Kagiso Rabada can fire up for the third Test, it will excite the Sydney crowd who are likely witness another dead rubber.

    Alex Carey of Australia celebrates his century. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

    Carey is a keeper

    A year’s a long time in cricket.

    This time last year Carey was under pressure to retain his spot.

    Thrown in the deep end after Tim Paine’s sorry demise, Carey dropped balls and let others whiz past.

    The numbers didn’t paint the full picture either as the left-hander was often asked to shoot from the hip early on.

    But after finding his feet in Pakistan, the left-hander continues to prosper.

    His maiden century was a special one more reason than one.

    Not only did he join rich company of Australian wicket-keeper’s to score a ton, he became only the second ever wicket-keeper to hit a century at the MCG.

    When you’ve just scored 200 runs and realise it means you will have to face @StuartBroad8 in another Ashes series in 2023. pic.twitter.com/hNTjcgKqK6

    — Iceland Cricket (@icelandcricket) December 27, 2022

    Iceland put heat on Warner

    David Warner has been sledged by of all people, the operator of Iceland Cricket’s official Twitter account.

    Despite making a mammoth 200, Warner was lampooned by Iceland, who posted a picture of him with receiving treatment for his cramps while slumped on a chair with a towel over his head accompanied by the caption:

    “When you’ve just scored 200 runs and realise it means you will have to face @StuartBroad8 in another Ashes series in 2023.”

    Ouch. If ever Iceland are granted an international clash with Australia, you could expect one D Warner to be available even if it’s long after he’s retired.

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