TELFORD VICE, Hobart
TIME rules test cricket like uncertainty rules politics. If you don’t bowl the opposition out in the time allowed, you don’t win. If you aren’t bowled out in the time allowed, you don’t lose.
And if you have a victory fresh in your mind all you can think about is the next match. If you’ve recently lost you skip back to the last time you played well.
So, for Keshav Maharaj, what happened at the WACA – where South Africa beat Australia by 177 runs in the first test on Monday – was less prominent than what might happen at Bellerive Oval, where the second test starts on Saturday.
“It’s very encouraging when your whole country is behind you, it’s motivating,” left-arm spinner Maharaj said on Wednesday when he was asked if the players could hear their supporters at home whooping with joy from clean across the Indian Ocean.
“But it’s a new game coming up and we’re just going to focus on that. Whatever has happened has happened but there lot’s of positives we can take into this new test match.”
What matters, he meant, was Saturday. Not Monday.
For opening batsman Joe Burns, who has been brought into the Australian squad for Shaun Marsh, who needs to have a broken finger surgically repaired, what has gone before was uppermost.
“It’s been fantastic coming back in, I guess that’s on the back of the confidence of knowing we can turn it around because we’ve done it before,” Burns said.
With Australia having lost their last four tests Burns, who was part of the squad that went down 3-0 in Sri Lanka in July and August, is looking back further than he and his teammates are accustomed to doing.
But he insisted that, “It seems like the same group of boys; still enjoying being around each other.”
The Sri Lankan series, he said, “was only a negative experience if I didn’t learn from it”.
Maharaj made his debut at the WACA, so he has no bad memories to dredge up.
When he was asked by Australian reporters about his confidence in the Decision Review System – Maharaj’s DRS-assisted lbw dismissal of Steve Smith in the first innings at the WACA has sparked controversy here – his answer proved as much: “It was my first time playing with DRS.”
Burns has played a dozen tests, half of which Australia have won.
He endured two of the other six in Sri Lanka.
Not a good memory, surely?
“It was only a negative experience if I didn’t learn from it,” Burns said.
Tell that to Hillary Clinton.