TELFORD VICE, Hobart
“THE job is nowhere near done,” Vernon Philander said after stumps had been drawn at Bellerive Oval in Hobart on Saturday, the first day of the second test between Australia and South Africa.
A day later, at Sunday’s close, forced three-and-a-half hours early by rain that began falling on Saturday night and refused to stop, South Africa were not one ball closer to getting that job done.
The entire second day’s play was abandoned to the weather with South Africa still 171/5 in reply to Australia’s first innings of 85 – which gave the visitors a lead of 86.
“Looking at the scoreboard we’re a little bit ahead but there’s still a lot of work to be done and a lot of cricket to be played,” Philander, who made expert use of a responsive pitch to take 5/21, had said.
“We’ll take a bit of confidence out of it but we still need to get another 10 wickets in the second innings.”
Not to mention squeeze as many more runs as possible out of an innings that should, given the improved forecast, have resumed on time in the early hours of this morning (SA time).
South Africa have significant available batting, what with Temba Bavuma on 38, Quinton de Kock 28 not out, and the none too shabby Philander himself as well as Kyle Abbott, a decent hitter, still in the shed.
Sunday’s washout only adds to the pressure on Australia, who are looking for a way back into the series after South Africa won the first test at the WACA by 177 runs.
Telling them how to do that is Graeme Smith, who hit the headlines last week with his acerbic views on the game in this country.
In a piece he wrote for The Daily Telegraph, a Sydney tabloid, Smith kept up his refrain that the team he used to captain is in a significantly better place than the home side.
“South Africa had been through a tough time (losing five of eight tests last season) but that 5-0 drubbing of Australia in the ODI series (last month) has given them such confidence knowing they’ve started the season well,” Smith wrote.
“They have brought this self-belief into this series.”
The Aussies, Smith wrote, “want to hit boundaries, they want the game to move forward, they want to be positive all the time and they’re not prepared to soak up pressure and work hard for their runs”.
All of which could make absorbing reading on a rainy day at the cricket. In one dressingroom, at least.