Opportunity knocks after Adelaide draw
One of the first things I was asked after we held on to draw the second test against Australia in Adelaide was if the result actually felt like a victory. My answer? Absolutely not. We just can’t be satisfied with draws and expect it to feel like a victory.
Having said that, we are satisfied with the way we fought back and it was a great effort from the boys, led by Faf particularly, as we were four down overnight needing to bat out a whole day. But, we know that we can do better than that, and that’s what we’re aiming to do in Perth.
Just reflecting on the game as a whole, it obviously got away from us on the first day, with Australia getting to around 480. We had them under pressure at three down for next to nothing, and I thought we were great in the first session.
After that, they obviously had a couple of partnerships, with Michael Clarke playing beautifully again and Michael Hussey also playing well.
No question, they dominated the first day and it was always going to be about trying to come back into the game, which I think we did on day two. So, to sum up the opening day, I just think they outplayed us and our skills just didn’t match up to theirs on that day.
Make no mistake, the injuries to Vernon, Jacques and Dale hurt us badly, but that’s what test cricket is about. It always throws you curve balls and it’s how you respond that usually determines whether or not you’re successful as a team.
So, the way we fought back was really impressive, with other guys stepping up when required. That I thought was incredible and a good sign for us as a team.
From a personal point of view it was nice to get 50 in the first innings, but I’m equally disappointed that I didn’t get a hundred. That’s always my feeling, particularly when I’ve got in and got a solid start.
I thought Graeme and I did really well to put on 138 for the opening wicket in the first innings, particularly as we were chasing 550 and a good start was imperative. It was just unfortunate to be run out, which is always a rubbish way to get out.
Then in the second innings we needed a similar start and didn’t get it. I, though, got a start for myself and it was disappointing to not kick on and eat up more time with our focus on the draw.
An inside-edge onto the stumps is another rubbish way to get out, and maybe on another day the ball would have missed leg-stump. But, that’s cricket.
The feeling in the dressing room after the game was a combination of relief and jubilation, because we had got through and secured a draw against all the odds, and against an Australian team that kept coming and coming.
It was a monumental effort, but there was always this feeling of calm about the team throughout the day as we knew we had the players to do the business for us. Fortunately, the guys came through for us and maybe that quiet confidence had something to do with that.
So, the Castles were thoroughly deserved and went down rather well in the team room. It was important that we celebrated Faf’s achievement, which was a phenomenal effort on debut, and showed him how much it meant to the rest of us and how grateful we were for his contribution.
Now the third test comes around very quickly, and in a few days’ time we’re in Perth, kicking off the final game in the series. We now have a massive opportunity to win the series.
Australia have played good cricket in the last two games, but we know we haven’t played anything close to our potential.
So, I think we can improve a helluva lot. I’m sure that the Australians rocked up on the final day expecting to pick up those six wickets, so it will be tough for them to pick themselves up again so quickly.
From our point of view, we know exactly where we need to improve and I’m 100% confident that we will. It’s a great chance to win the series, and after winning here a couple of years ago we really want to win it again.