Qantas Tour of South Africa
Cummins spell puts Australia on top
Tireless fast-bowler's incredible late spell rattles the Proteas to tune of 4-7 in 38 balls
Sam Ferris at Newlands, Cape Town
23 March 2018, 09:03 AM AEST
A lion-hearted spell of fast bowling from Pat Cummins propelled Australia into a position of power at stumps on day one of the third Test at Cape Town.
South Africa were in cruise control at 2-220 before Cummins bulldozed South Africa’s middle-order in a furious spell of 4-7 from 38 balls to change the course of day and, perhaps, the match.
In all, the Proteas lost 6-37 to be 8-266 when bad light ended play with opening batsman Dean Elgar unbeaten on 121 and Kagiso Rabada alongside him on six.
For the first time in the series, Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis won the toss, and despite a tinge of green on the pitch, elected to bat.
Australia captain Steve Smith confirmed on match eve his side was unchanged, but his opposite mooted two possible of changes to the XI that won handsomely in Port Elizabeth.
As it turned out, both substitutions were made: A fully fit Temba Bavuma replaced Theunis de Bruyn at No.6, while a toe injury forced Lungi Ngidi out of the match and veteran Morne Morkel back in.
Josh Hazlewood secured an early breakthrough with a lovely outswinger that drew a false shot and an edge from Aiden Markram through to Smith, who snapped up the catch diving in front of first slip.
That wicket fell in the fourth over of the session and there wasn’t another one until the fifth over after lunch as Elgar and Hashim Amla dug in, saw off the new ball and ticked the scoreboard over with relative ease.
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon was introduced into the attack in just the ninth over but found no assistance from a wicket that refused to spin so early on the first day.
The Proteas arrived at lunch on 1-75, with a pair of classic cover drives from the free-flowing bat of Amla the clear highlight in front of a healthy crowd baked in gorgeous sunlight.
Five overs into the second session, Hazlewood has his second when Amla failed to control a hook shot as Cummins took a well-judged catch at fine-leg to send the elegant No.3 on his way for 31.
Australia should have had a second wicket shortly after but Lyon, fielding at point, put down a routine catch that would have seen Elgar dismissed for 53 and given Hazlewood his second wicket.
Hazlewood looked the most fluent of the touring quicks and was humming when he struck Elgar with a wicked bouncer that ballooned off the helmet to the slips cordon.
Elgar was hit in the 37th over and neither he nor de Villiers were troubled for the remaining 18 overs of the middle session, save for one edge from the right-hander’s blade that flew through the vacant third slip and cost Starc four runs.
The Australians bowled the best they have all series to de Villiers early in his innings, but when they strayed by the smallest of margins the batting maestro made them pay.
What makes de Villiers such a phenom is how he can hit the same delivery to practically any part of the field without moving his feet to the pitch on the ball, instead relying on his head and hands.
That was never more the case than in the 45th over when he planted his feet and heaved a Starc back-of-a-length ball delivered from round the wicket over wide long-on for a four, a shot so astounding it brought gasps of wonder from the crowd.
While de Villiers was dazzling, Elgar produced his own fireworks when he danced down the wicket and launched Lyon into the Kelvin Grove End stands.
The Proteas pair brought up their 100-run partnership in the wake of tea, moments before Elgar brought up Test century No.11 with a sublime punch through the leg-side.
But that was the last moment of joy for the hosts on day one.
Armed with a ball almost 63 overs old, Cummins first did the unthinkable and removed de Villiers for 64 when the right-hander, seemingly seeing the ball too well, chipped a half-volley to David Warner at mid-off to silence the crowd.
Four overs and 14 runs later, du Plessis’s lean series continued, sharply caught by Smith at second slip playing at a Cummins ball outside off-stump that perhaps could have been left alone.
The Proteas skipper now has just 35 runs in five innings against the Australians.
The Cummins carnage continued when the recalled Bavuma was brilliantly worked over by the express paceman, repeatedly beaten before the right-hander edged a length ball to Smith, who made no mistake for the third time in the day.
A drinks break didn’t stop the flow of wickets, as Quinton de Kock under-edged Cummins through to Paine to cap off a remarkable spell of 4-7 from 38 balls.
With Cummins exhausted, and who could blame him, Smith brought on Mitchells Marsh and Starc and each bowler repaid their captain’s faith – Marsh captured the wicket of Vernon Philander, while Starc had Keshav Maharaj caught at cover.
As the sun set behind the enormous presence of Table Mountain, Kagiso Rabada walked out to a heroes welcome, and playing the part of villain perfectly was Starc, who delivered a bouncer first ball, followed by a wry smile as the crowd booed.
The second new ball was delayed until the 87th over, and after six balls with the fresh Kooaburra ball, the umpires deemed the light to be poor enough to stop play three overs short of the 90 required in a day’s play.
Australia XI: David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (c), Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood #SAvAUS— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) March 22, 2018
South Africa XI: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis (c), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel #SAvAUS— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) March 22, 2018
Qantas tour of South Africa
South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Quinton de Kock, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Duanne Olivier, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, AB de Villiers.
Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.
Warm-up match: Australia beat South Africa A by five wickets. Report, highlights
First Test Australia won by 118 runs. Scorecard
Second Test South Africa won by six wickets. Scorecard
Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26. Live coverage
Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3. Live coverageof the third Test of the Qantas Tour of South Africa in Cape Town.