31 Mar 2006
By: Archie Mac
A defiant Ashwell Prince has kept South Africa well in the third and final Test versus Australia. Prince finished 79 not out in a team total of 238/6. With all batsman reaching double figures, Prince was the only one to keep his concentration and go on to post a half century.
Missing their captain for this final Test of the series, the Proteas resisted the temptation to 'blood' any new players, in this dead rubber match, instead bringing back Boeta Dippenaar.
Stand in captain Jacques Kallis performed his first duty, that of winning the toss, and electing to bat. The South Africans threw in an early surprise by selecting Herschelle Gibbs to open with AB de Villiers.
Gibbs who averages over fifty when opening was greeted by Brett Lee bowling out swing at genuine pace and Stuart Clark bowling with bounce and seam. Both openers were lucky to survive the opening salvo, with Lee in particular proving unplayable on occasions.
After a slow start (5 overs before the first run) and with both batsman just seemingly settled in, AB de Villiers as is his wont played a very loose drive and was comfortably caught off the bowling of Clark for 12 (26/1).
Boeta Dippenaar joined Gibbs and immediately looked in touch, playing well forward and right back depending on the length. Gibbs in contrast was leaving poorly and it was no surprise when he was cleaned bowled shouldering arms to Michael Kasprowicz.
This was one of the worst leaves in living memory with the ball clearly pitching off stump and eventually crashing into middle. Gibbs was dismissed for 16 and the score was 38/2, as the South African captain came to the crease.
Although slow Kallis and Dippenaar (32) both looked comfortable, before Clark enticed the latter to edge a catch to the keeper (97/3). It took a great ball from Lee to remove Kallis (37) the ball striking the pads before smashing into the stumps. This was just reward for Lee, whom with a bit of luck could have had four wickets. He will bowl much poorer in his career for better reward.
Ashwell Prince and Jacques Rudolph then combined for the most entertaining stand of the day adding 55 for the 5th wicket in good time. Rudolph (25) fell in controversial circumstances; given out caught at slip by Matthew Hayden off the bowling of Shane Warne, when replays cast doubt on whether the ball had carried. 161/5.
Mark Boucher was also given out in a dubious manner, LBW to Andrew Symonds, when he had seemed a long way forward and the ball looked to be doing a little too much. This was a blow to the South African cause, as the players came off for poor light just afterwards. Boucher made 24 and had looked well set.
The Australia bowlers looked relatively fresh after just three days rest since the last Test match. Whether this and 'Dead Rubber Syndrome' will have an effect on day two remains to be seen. The Aussies will be hoping to celebrate Justin Langer's 100th Test with a clean sweep of the Test Series.
The destiny of the match may well hinge on the South African lower order and how much support they can give to Ashwell Prince.
South Africa 238/6
Ashwell Prince 79*, Jacques Kallis 37
Stuart Clark 61/2, Andrew Symonds 26/1 Discuss this news item in the Cricket Web Forums