South Africa Tour of Australia
Proteas dominate CA XI in D/N tour match
SA fast bowlers destroy young guns before batters enjoy some practice in one-sided pink-ball warm-up
Andrew Ramsey at Adelaide Oval
23 October 2016, 09:00 PM AEST
Had South Africa been offered the chance to script the outcomes of their first encounter with a pink ball in a floodlit match setting, it might have looked very similar to what transpired in Adelaide over the past two days.
Except, perhaps, to write in a more battle-hardened opponent than the Cricket Australia XI that was heavy on talent but shy of the necessary experience that meant they were found wanting in key moments of the two-day battle.
Quick Single: Final scores - CA XI v SA
Batting first in a fixture designed essentially as centre-wicket practice without the netting, the Proteas rattled along at around 4.5 runs per over amid the chill of Saturday.
Despite their batters having few previous sightings of the pink ball and no first-class cricket under lights, and on a lush outfield that – in spring racing parlance – would likely attract a rating of ‘dead’.
Then, with ball in hand and even though the ambient light came from Adelaide’s tepid spring and not the artificial high luxe equivalent that is supposed to radically alter the ball’s behaviour, they bowled out their inexperienced, under-equipped opponents in less than a session.
Skittling all but one of the CA XI batters (captain Matthew Short, last dismissed for a counter-punching 57) for single-figure scores with all five specialist seamers helping themselves to a couple of wickets.
Four of them doing so in the first over or two of their spells, as they shared around the pink ball while it was still close to its pristine state and scythed through their overawed rivals for just 103.
The make-up of the tourists’ Test bowling attack remains unknown, but given the lack of recent cricket played by seamer Morne Morkel due to back trouble and the fact he was employed as third-change quick today he might be pushing to regain his place.
Especially granted the form of fellow tall paceman Kyle Abbott, who clearly enjoyed the properties of the pink ball and even more so the additional cover of grass on the Adelaide pitch.
“It seems to nip around a bit when the lights come on, not so much during the day,” Abbott said at game’s end when asked his assessment of the pink ball.
“But there’s a bit of grass on this wicket so there has been a bit of assistance if you hit the deck hard and get it in the right areas.
“Not a huge amount of swing, just a bit more nip off the surface.
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“I don’t think we’ve seen this much grass on a pitch for seven years.
“It would be nice (if more Test pitches were in similar condition) and it would be even better if it (the grass) changed colour to a tinge of green.
“But I think it’s just to keep the ball in nick, and even after 15 overs it started to peel a bit.
“Even on this, so it will be interesting to see how it holds up in the Test match.
“And if they do leave a bit of grass on and with the lush outfield, it should stay in shape and shiny for much longer.”
Abbott admitted it would have been useful for the South African bowlers to see how the pink ball held up after 50 or more overs of wear and tear, rather than the 30 that the CA XI took to succumb.
But he added that at innings end the ball was still in good shape with some sheen still evident, and that the performances from the Proteas’ squad across both days pretty much “ticked the boxes” they had identified heading into their first practice fixture.
The fact that both openers – Dean Elgar and Stephen Cook – lost their second innings wickets in the traditional late afternoon light, and that skipper Faf du Plessis fell to the third ball of the after-dark session might have been the only elements of the match they would potentially re-draft.
Cook having missed out in both innings (5 and 12) and appearing to have struggled as much as anyone in the Proteas’ line-up to find timing and fluency on a slowish pitch against some accomplished seam and wrist spin bowling.
And du Plessis, who scored just eight in the first innings before gifting his wicket to leg spinner Arjun Nair, won’t be keen to revisit the airy drive he aimed immediately after the long break that went through a sizeable gap between bat and pad to find the top of middle.
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But Cook, du Plessis and Elgar (43 and 11) are not renowned as enforcers in the Test match format, and it may be instructive that the South African batters who have prospered in this previously unseen scenario have been those whose natural instinct is to attack.
Quinton de Kock, who took no part in today’s play due to his ongoing battle with a viral infection, plundered the game’s only century while fellow left-handers Rilee Rossouw (77 from 84 balls including nine fours and three sixes) and JP Duminy (97 and 32no) coped without any apparent concern.
And Hashim Amla, the former Test skipper upon whom so much rests in the coming three-Test campaign against Australia with his captaincy successor AB de Villiers missing through injury, cruised to hassle-free 50 on Saturday and didn’t feel the need to bat a second time today.
Having missed out in the first innings, diminutive middle-order batter Temba Bavuma looked comfortable compiling 21 from 34 balls under the lights this evening until he ambitiously tried to cut Nair off his stumps.
And those who felt they didn’t quite wring as much as they might have wished from a couple of days match practice that was competitive but rarely combative were granted a genuine training run post-match.
— Andrew Ramsey (@ARamseyCricket) October 23, 2016
On the very centre wicket block, under the self-same floodlights that the Test will be played a month hence after the rival captains agreed to curtail the warm-up game 45 minutes early to enable some additional practice for the touring party.
South Africa’s final competitive outing before the first Test begins at the WACA Ground in Perth on November 3 will be against another greenhorn opponent – a South Australia ‘second XI’ in a daytime, red-ball match at Gliderol Stadium at Glenelg on Thursday and Friday.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (c), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Stephen Cook, Quinton de Kock, Jean-Paul Duminy, Dean Elgar, Keshav Maharaj, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Dane Vilas.
CA XI: Matthew Short (c), Arjun Nair, Josh Inglis, Ryan Gibson, Sam Harper, Ben McDermott, James Bazley, Brendan Doggett, Ryan Lees, Xavier Bartlett, Thomas O'Donnell, Kyle Gardiner.
— Andrew Ramsey (@ARamseyCricket) October 22, 2016