More special memories on the cards
The memories I have of the last time that the South Africa national cricket team toured Australia are many and all pretty good ones too. I am sure that many fans also remember the series vividly and have some favourites stored for occasional reflection in the back of their minds somewhere.
An interesting debut by JP Duminy who scored just four in the first innings and then a fifty in a huge partnership with AB de Villiers (who scored a century) to help South Africa chase down a near world record 414.
There was much more in that Perth test match, but that and the spell yielding five wickets for three runs by Mitchell Johnson sticks in my mind as it seemed he had wrecked South Africa’s chances.
Duminy comes to mind again for the Boxing Day test match in Melbourne for his glorious 166 and that partnership with Dale Steyn, who made 76 and then took a “five for” taking the Proteas from a losing position to a winning one. Ricky Ponting getting out for 99 in the second innings after getting a century in the first and also Neil McKenzie and Hashim Amla together at the end with the Proteas having lost just their captain in chasing down 183 to clinch the series.
The Sydney Cricket Ground in all pink on Jane McGrath Day was pretty special in that New Year’s test match and it followed several days of some quite enthralling cricket. On the field, I remember very clearly Morne Morkel walking out to open the batting for South Africa in the second innings (he did not last long at all) and then the final act of the trip by the captain, Graeme Smith. He walked out to bat with a broken hand and the whole ground rose to him in applause....a much deserved ovation. Smith won many a heart when he did that.
I always felt that the Proteas couldn't quite believe what they had done. They had finally done it; won a series in Australia. It was a pity that having followed their series win in England with the win Down Under, they could not quite move on to the next phase despite seeming ready to do so. A loss to the Aussies followed and then a drawn series against England, both on home soil.
This time around the team is older, more mature and seems particularly determined to remain the top team in the world for a long period of time. With the personnel that the Proteas have in their line-up and the way they have fared in test match cricket, it is no surprise that they arrive on Australian soil as the favourites and expected to win the test series. They would expect themselves to do just that and kick on to a relatively straight forward summer with New Zealand and Pakistan as their next opponents.
This is not to say that the Aussie sojourn will be a walk in the park, it seldom is. However, I feel that if the Proteas can get the proverbial ‘it’ together they will be unstoppable. The England side that they beat a couple of months ago absolutely obliterated the Australians in the last Ashes match-up over in Australia. It does not normally follow in sport that if you’re playing against a team that has won against an opponent you lost to, you will lose. In this case though, I reckon it will be so.
These two teams always have a way of throwing up some fantastic contests and all of them in the recent past have been gripping and very watchable with a lot of action all the way through. I expect no less on South Africa’s latest visit to the old enemy.
To be there once again to take in the action from close quarters will be an absolute privilege. I can’t wait!