Third Man Cricket » South Africa v Australia 1st Test Day 3 – It’s their economy stupid… : An Expat Cricket Website
South Africa v Australia 1st Test Day 3 – It’s their economy stupid…

I received an email today from an Aussie friend that perfectly summed up today’s play:

“Saffers look awful, we look great. Not much else to say.”

Not in their wildest imagination’s could the Aussie fans have thought this is the position they would be in 3 days into this test series. The more modest will say the job is not done and that this is a champion South African team who have shown they have the mettle to bat out 2 days of a test match on more than one occasion. Not to mention come back strong after a sluggish start to a series. That will also be the attitude in the dressing room. They have felt that sting before and you can be sure they will do everything they can to keep their feet firmly on South African throats.

The South Africans are rightly number one in the world. They have put in the hard work to reach that goal and have long records to back it up. No-one doubts that. Whether they will continue to be number one depends on how they respond to this Aussie challenge. Currently, they are showing a similar response to England, under-estimation. That is what turns a champion into a retiree. Failure to foresee the rise of a new challenger.

The less modest Aussie fans will simply say “I told you so”. And they have a point. This team produced a 5-0 result against a team that has had the upper hand for the best part of 5 years. There must be something there, some edge, to produce that result. Arguably that edge is Mitchell Johnson, but everyone knew that going into this series and his inclusion merely blunts any edge South Africa have from Steyn. The real edge is that the Aussies have worked out how to win with the resources they have.

It is a simple game plan. Let your quickest bowler loose in the first 20-30 overs bowling him in short spells. Use your remaining seamers to bowl tight economical spells with relentless efficiency. For overs 30-80, bowl your spinner from around the wicket to prevent the batsmen from freeing their arms up while the seamers keep it tight, and then just squeeze. Rinse and repeat with the new ball if needed.

Then when it’s your turn to bat, soak up the first 20-30 overs as best you can. Sure you may lose a few wickets along the way but the key is to not catastrophically collapse. Once through that initial period, capitalize on the older ball.

What is the edge though? It is in this team’s ability to keep it tight during those middle overs and not give the opposition any room to breathe. They understand their own game and their own limitations. They understand that the playbook developed when Australia was a team of champions doesn’t work when those champions have retired.

For mine then it’s not the Johnson effect that has turned this team around, it’s the Lehmann effect.


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