Gift of the Gabba: Proteas in command
Jacques Kallis reckons The Gabba pitch has plenty to offer for the quicks, and insists a result is still possible despite the second day’s play being washed out by rain. By ANT SIMS.
If the Australians thought they were going to unsettle Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis by means of sledging and short-pitched bowling, they were sadly mistaken. The notorious batting pair continued their stellar form on day three of the first Test against Australia, setting the foundation which helped guide the Proteas to 450.
Amla added 104, while Kallis chipped in with 147 as the Aussies toiled at The Gabba. Day two was washed out completely and day three was more of the same for South Africa’s batsmen, who have become so sedately set in batting for hours that those back in South Africa who opted for sleep instead of watching the first two sessions would be forgiven.
While the lower order was somewhat disappointing, managing only 114 runs between them (AB de Villiers contributing a gritty 40), the South African bowlers hit the ground running, picking up three wickets early on to leave the Australians reeling on 111-3 at close of play on day three.
In fact, they would have had a fourth wicket if it weren’t for Morne Morkel’s no ball in the 25th over. Morkel had found a feather of an edge off Ed Cowan's glove which was caught behind, and while the umpire initially said not out, South Africa went for a review. Replays showed a front-foot no ball, but there was hot spot confirmation that the ball brushed the glove – the decision would have been overturned if it weren't for the no ball. The opening batsman managed to survive until the end of play, and will start day four unbeaten on 49 alongside Michael Clarke on 34.
For centurion Kallis, the first session of play on day four will be crucial.
“Tomorrow morning is a key period of the game,” Kallis said.
“If we can nip out a few tomorrow morning and put some pressure on Australia, who knows...? I think we have to give ourselves the opportunity. The game is far from dead and there is enough in the wicket as well.
“As long as we keep applying the pressure, it is all that we can do. If Australia plays well, then fair enough, but we have to get the ball in the right areas.”
Kallis, who is still going strong at the age of 37, is pleased with his form and his performances in general.
“I think I have been playing really well for the last couple of years,” Kallis commented.
“I have been scoring at a decent rate and I feel like I’m getting into good positions, which is key to batting. Hopefully I can carry on with that. You need a little bit of luck to go with it as well, so may that continue.”
Australia still trails by 339 runs, and while South Africa is one player short after losing JP Duminy to injury, they have set the tone for the remainder of the Test match by ensuring they get rid of the dangermen in the Aussie line-up early on.
Morkel looked the most impressive of the bowlers and picked up two wickets for his efforts, while Dale Steyn looked fierce in his opening spell. New recruit Rory Kleinveldt has struggled with his consistency somewhat, but there should be movement early on day four that could help the rookie adjust slightly better to the ebbs and flows of international cricket.
The biggest challenge for the Proteas, however, will be finding a bowler to fulfil the holding role that would have been played by Duminy. Graeme Smith, Alviro Petersen and Jacques Rudolph can all bowl a little, but none of them are regular tweakers – not even for their franchises.
Kallis, though, believes it’s the pacers who will play the biggest role, and he himself might have to shoulder a little bit of extra responsibility to help the Proteas take charge of the first Test. He reckons there’s not much turn in the pitch, yet.
“There's not too much on offer spin-wise. It has quickened up a little bit, but I think it is a good Test wicket. There is a little bit in it for the fast bowlers when they get the ball in the right area, and there is some decent carry as well,” said Kallis.
The all-rounder is also confident he will be able to deal with the extra pressure.
"I'm ready to go; it's just about managing the workload," he said. "My body is all right at the moment."
Kallis fielded and took two sharp catches at second slip as proof of that, and will no doubt have to run in hard on day four if South Africa hopes to move the game forward quickly enough to force a result. DM
Photo: South Africa's Jacques Kallis plays a shot against Australia during the first cricket test match at the Gabba in Brisbane November 9, 2012. REUTERS/Aman Sharma