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Soup of This Day #103: Once There Was A Way To Get Back Homeward

November 22, 2011

Orca porpoising
An orca porpoising. Apparently they don’t sleep for the 1st month of their lives. Willy didn’t just need freedom, he also needed a good nap – Photo: Minette Layne, 2006. Minette Layne is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

This post was written when I should have been in bed. There is a lot going on in my life right now and I was tired last night.

Not quite bone-tired but close.

I figured on taking the edge off by reading a bit, doing some limited maintenance on the blog while I listened to Australia and South Africa play out Day 5 of the 2nd Test in Johannesburg. Then around 10 maybe calling it quits and heading off for a glorious rest. The cricket would have been done and dusted by then for Australia was targeting 310 on a Wanderers pitch where the highest successful chase was 200 and something.

Australia had outscored South Africa 296 to 266 on the 1st dig but the Saffers had amassed 339 2nd time around, limited only by a 6 wicket haul from 18 year old debutante Pat Cummins. The Australian chase had started badly, at 1 stage on Day 4 they were 2 for 19, before the inexperienced Usman Khawaja and the under-fire former skipper Ricky Ponting staged a recovery. When Khawaja went for 65 late in the day Australia made it to stumps at 3 for 142, 168 in arrears with 7 wickets in hand. I’d describe that as finely balanced but for Australia’s 9 for 21 in the 2nd dig of the 1st Test in Cape Town just a week or so before – Simply, they had form for a collapse and on a 5th day pitch the chase was most likely to end early in a parade of wickets and a relatively early Monday night for Longworth72.

Then it rained and the start of play was delayed. It eventually commenced with the loss of the morning session so an early finish looked slightly less earlyish.

And yes, I just made up the word ‘earlyish’. I’m still tired.

When play did get going the Australians almost immediately lost skipper Michael Clarke for a cheap 2. With 4 down a lot then rested on veterans Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey. Ponting had done well the previous evening but wasn’t able to add much to his overnight score, going for 62 as I drove home from an evening grocery run. Hussey, aka Mr Cricket, fought hard alongside woefully out of form wicket-keeper Brad Haddin but eventually succumbed on 39. Haddin was then joined by Mitchell Johnson, the bowler who makes Haddin look in form. Both were fighting for their Test lives and both doggedly rode their luck in a lengthy stand. Several times along the way I threatened to go to bed – Switching the computer off and packing away iPads and an iPhone. Each time though I decided to have a quick peek before going to sleep and each time I did that I got hooked and reeled in by the theatre on show. Belatedly I just gave in, recognizing that it was best to just wait it out and take a sleep hit – Here then is my live commentary from then until the close:

So now we’re down to this: 33 runs to get and Vernon Philander has taken the 2nd new ball. The light is fading rapidly so we won’t see most of the 27 overs that are scheduled to be played yet today.

Over 81 (26 to play) Tight. Johnson lucky to get away with a single early but then Haddin smokes 4 off the last ball. 29 to get.

Over 82 (25 to play) Dale Steyn steps back into the groove. 2 runs from early singles. Commentator reporting that it’s getting very dark although not so much for Mitch as he wallops 4 off the last ball. 23 to get.

Over 83 (24 to play) Philander to Haddin, no run 1st ball. 2nd ball… HADDIN’S GONE! He’s out caught behind for a stubborn 55. Australia 7 down and Philander has 5-for. Siddle the new man and there may be some twists yet to play out in the gathering gloom. Actually there are twists in each of Philander’s deliveries apparently – He’s seaming it all over the place and Siddle is lucky to see out the last 4 balls of a wicket-maiden for the Saffers.

Over 84 (23 to play) Johnson takes 1 off Steyn’s 1st ball. He’s not shielding Siddle then… It’s ok though, Pete drives a fullish ball for 4. And now HE’S GONE TOO… Siddle out caught and Steyn and Philander may have wrested the initiative back off Australia. Just 2 wickets in hand and 18 runs to go. Pat Cummins, 18 years old and on debut marches out – No pressure mate! And Cummins gets 3 off of a leading edge. Streaky but they all count and the target is now 15.

Over 85 (22 to play) Cummins facing Philander. The young Aussie has a grand total of 5 runs to his name in Test cricket. Make that 6 as he gets a single… And his team gets a wide so now it’s 13 to win. Nope, it’s 11, Johnson with 2 more. And now a single to give Cummins last strike of the over as the 300 is posted…and Cummins adds 1 more to end the 85th with 9 for a still improbable victory.

Over 86 (21 to play) Cummins vs Steyn now. Surely the South African, considered to be amongst the best Test bowlers in the world, has the advantage? DROPPED! Steyn has dropped Cummins and it’s gone for 4! Extraordinary stuff and now there are 5 runs in this… The next 2 balls are dots, short stuff from Steyn. As is the next ball and a wild swing fortunately doesn’t connect for Cummins as it could have gone anywhere. And then he sees out the last ball and it’s over to Mitch with 5 to get.

Over 87 (20 to play) Tahir, the spinner has the ball – Gutsy, gutsy call from Graeme Smith to take the cherry away from Philander. Johnson gets 1 off the 2nd ball. A boundary wins this for Australia. 2 wickets wins it for South Africa. Brilliant Test cricket – Deserves a tie. Everyone around the bat for Cummins… Apeal for LBW – Not out, referred and still not out… Dot ball next… FOUR… For once I’m spelling a number out with letters… The 18 year old has hit a boundary and Australia has won a belter of a Test. Bloody well done lad! And kudos too to the under siege Ricky Ponting, Brad Haddin and Mitch Johnson – Their resolute batting under huge pressure saw the team home.

So I lost some sleep but the trade-off was some brilliant cricket. And when we talk about brilliant cricket it’s almost always Test cricket. More of that please International Cricket Council.

In the meantime, goodnight all.

Once There Was A Way To Get Back Homeward

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