South Africa v Australia – Second Test Ratings

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at 2018.03.13
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After a fiery conclusion to the First Test, the two sides headed to Port Elizabeth to continue this series of hurling tedious abuse at one another. Would any so-called cricket get in the way of that insult-a-thon? Only time would tell.

Here are the ratings for the Second Test between South Africa and Australia.

Grade: 3 demerit points

The lead-up to the Test had been dominated by discussion of David Warner and Quinton de Kock’s now-infamous stairwell confrontation at Durban. Think-pieces had been written. Fines and demerit points had been issued. Official speaking-tos by cricket administrators had been uttered. Apologies and explanations had been offered. Social media memes had been tweeted, facebooked, instagrammed, snapchatted and elloed.

It was all duller than a Dean Elgar innings.

One thing nobody seemed to be focusing on was the impact of the stairwell itself in the face-off. Could the ICC put an end to these kinds of ugly incidents simply by banning stairwells from international cricket?

There’s only one way to find out.

Kagiso Rabada
Grade: suspended for two matches

Australia won the toss and batted. Early on, both Warner and de Kock looked determined to hog the headlines via the unconventional means of playing cricket well. Warner raced to a half-century while de Kock took the first two catches of the innings.

But Kagiso Rabada, a man who has had his own share of run-ins with match referees in his time, surged past both of them with a blistering bowling spell where he knocked over Smith, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc. A stunning reminder that you can’t spell ‘trigger a bad as anything collapse’ without ‘Rabada’. He ended with 5/96 as Australia collapsed from 3/161 to 8/182, before recovering somewhat to 243 all out.

But Rabada wasn’t finished for the day. After South Africa lost Aiden Markram for 11, the young fast bowler was sent in as a nightwatchman. He proceeded to race to 17 off 14 balls.

Unorthodox nightwatchmannery, to be sure. But undoubtedly effective.

Grade: fined 75 per cent of match fee

Of course, Rabada was forced to play at his best for this particular Test, because, following a shoulder bump on Steve Smith, a send-off of David Warner and forgetting to thank the twelfth man during a Day Four drinks break, he seemed likely to be banned for the remainder of the series.

A stunning turn of events, especially since none of these incidents took place in a stairwell.

But you know who else was banned? A band.

Shortly after tea on Day Two, the brass band at Port Elizabeth was ordered to stop playing by umpire Kumar Dharmasena, who refused to allow play to continue until they did so. They therefore stopped, and play resumed.

And, of course, at that point the band immediately started playing again. This repeated several times.

All the banned band nonsense was deliciously hilarious, especially when it seemed to trigger a South African collapse. After a long, slow partnership between Elgar and Hashim Amla that took the score to 2/155, South Africa lost 4/28 and were suddenly at grave risk of giving up a first innings lead.

Six and Out refusing to play during the South Africa v Australia Second Test 2017-18

Six and Out refusing to play during the South Africa v Australia Second Test 2017-18

Still, I’m with Dharmasena on this one. Music has no place at a cricket ground. Just as cricketers have no place in a band.

Yes, you heard me, Six and Out. Come at me, Richard Chee Quee.

AB de Villiers
Grade: issued an official warning

Australia’s chances of gaining a first innings lead were undone by AB de Villiers, of course. He made 126 not out and combined with the South African tail to take the home side to 382, a lead of 139.

It was unclear why Australia had moved away from their prior tactic of knocking over the tail for a handful of runs, but it proved to be a terrible mistake. Although, to be fair, they were also desperately unlucky that no South African batsman chose to run out de Villiers for a duck this time.

Sometimes the breaks just don’t go your way.

Low Fourth Innings Targets
Grade: banned for life

Australia struggled again in the second innings, stumbling into the lead four wickets down late on Day Three before being all out just 100 runs ahead early Day Four.

Y’know, whenever a team is setting a big fourth innings target, we get endless tables of the highest successful run chases. Indeed, we saw exactly this table during the First Test. So why don’t we get corresponding tables of the lowest failed run chases when teams are setting small fourth innings targets? It makes no sense.

For the record, the top of that table would be the 85 runs England failed to chase in 1882, followed by the 99 the West Indies successfully defended in 2000.

And yet, stupidly, Australia were playing in neither the uncovered pitch era nor against Zimbabwe. So, obviously, South Africa ran down the target of 101 and won the Test, by 6 wickets, levelling the series 1-1.

(Originally published at

South Africa v Australia - First Test Ratings
South Africa v Australia - Third Test Ratings

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