Clark Crushes South Africa

Test debutant Stuart Clark has scythed through the cream of South African batting to claim 5-55. The bowlers equivalent of scoring a hundred on debut, Clark joins a select group of Australian bowlers to have performed the feat of taking five wickets in his first Test. The last being team mate Brett Lee.

In overcast conditions South African captain Graeme Smith surprised many by his decision to bat first after winning the toss.

Despite a lot of early movement and a couple of close LBW calls, the Proteas openers; of AB de Villiers and Smith appeared to handle the conditions well. In fact it took a great delivery from Michael Kasprowicz to break the grafting partnership.

Kaspa cleaned bowled de Villiers (8) with one that cut back into the right-hander (24/1). Enter the in-form Herschelle Gibbs to partner his captain. At this stage of the match both batsman seemed to be settling in for a large stand, with Ricky Ponting seemingly over bowling his strike bowler Brett Lee, and Kasprowicz bedevilled with no-ball problems.

Finally a bowling change was made with both Andrew Symonds and Stuart Clark being brought on. Both bowlers caused a few headaches, but it was Clark bowling a beautiful line and with some good bounce that swung the game Australia’s way.

First he claimed the South African captain caught at the wicket for 19 (42/2) and then he removed danger man Jacques Kallis for six (48/3). Kallis had seemed in a very aggressive mood and was out cutting to gully.

The big blow from Clark though was his dismissal of Herschelle Gibbs (18) just before the lunch interval. Gibbs had played a couple of superlative drives off Clark in his previous over, both shots rocketing to the boundary, but for some reason decided to go on the defensive and was cleaned bowled by the lanky NSW paceman.

After the break Kasprowicz was the lucky benefactor of a freak dismissal, the unlucky batsman being Jacques Rudolph (10). An outside edge travelled quickly to Shane Warne at slip, who did not seem to pick up the ball, which struck him in the midriff, on falling to the ground Warne somehow managed to kick the ball up into the air and into the waiting hands of a jubilant Adam Gilchrist.

The Proteas now found themselves in a precarious position of 76/5. This became 104/6 when Clark claimed his 4th wicket the dangerous Mark Boucher caught at the wicket for 16.

With the Sun finally making an appearance the pitch showed signs of settling down. This and some good hitting from the lower order helped South Africa post a competitive score of 205. In fact all of the tail contributed:

Hall 24
Boje 31
Nel 18
Ntini 17*

Australia in their first innings looked much more settled, although there were some anxious moments, they only lost opener Justin Langer LBW to Andre Nel for 16. The Australians finished the day at 63/1. Still 142 behind the South Africa first innings, but with nine wickets in hand.

Australia are in the box seat at the end of day one, with both Matthew Hayden and captain Ricky Ponting off to solid starts, and the pitch expected to settle down on day two.
South Africa 205
Nicky Boje 31, Andrew Hall 24
Stuart Clark 5-55, Brett Lee 3-37

Australia 63/1
Matthew Hayden 22*, Ricky Ponting 20*
Andre Nel 1-14

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