Some light at the end of the tunnel…
The New Years test at Newlands has always proven to be a magical atmosphere.
Day 1 saw not only a successful Gary Kirsten/ Allan Donald bowling strategy come together, but the demise of a once highly competitive team. For those of you that missed it, the black Caps were skittled for a poultry 45 runs in the first innings.
We all anticipated a days’ worth of batting from the Proteas resulting in a speedy declaration. The Black Caps were regrettably trailing by 302 runs. Martin Guptill was expected to make amends for his first innings blunder. Guptill scored a ton in a recent T20 against the men in green in East London and was suggested to have had a number of serious net sessions prior to his innings. After 3 balls, he fell to the bowling of Dale Steyn – Advantage SA! The middle order for the black caps displayed a significant amount of inexperience and lack of aptitude or strategy at the crease. The majority failed to apply themselves to the situation at hand… i.e. they did not use the massive deficit as an opportunity to grow. This scenario applied to all but two players.
Brendan McCullum after scoring 7 in the first innings made amends in the second innings with a well played 51. He played a very calm, reserved innings unlike any of his other periods at the crease. Robin Peterson trapped him in between middle and off with a beauty.
However the man of the hour for the black caps came in the form of Dean Brownlie. The former resident of Perth came to the crease with mass uncertainty receiving a short of a length delivery from Vernon Philander. He was clearly playing his shots. The 28 year old finished off Day 2 on a commanding 69 not out. I watched his innings thus far and felt that he was looking solid, so much so that he was going to go all the way. A number of my colleagues disagreed with me on that one… I was so confident that Brownlie would go onto score his maiden century I put 50 madibas on it
Brownlie looked a bit shaky at the start of play on day 3, playing and missing a few lengthy deliveries from Steyn. He clearly felt that he had nothing to lose by playing his natural run a ball game. He picked his bowlers and left Steyn and Philander unchallenged. With 2 lusty blows off the bowling of Peterson, Brownlie got to his ton and more importantly, I became R50 richer. He was dismissed a short while later off the bowling of Morne Morkel caught at mid-wicket by Alviro Petersen. Once Brownlie was dismissed, we saw a little resistance from BJ Watling. However this was not enough as the side was later dismissed for a total of 275. This was an admirable fight back from the visitors considering the events of Day 1.
We now look towards St Georges Park for the 2nd and final Test. Will we see another awesome bowling display from the Proteas or will we see a much more resilient New Zealand team?