16/04/2024

Mitchell Starc celebrates his special 300th test wicket (Picture: Cricket Australia)

Australia wrapped up the first test at the end of Day Two with a day of cricket that astounded everyone. Taking out the match by six wickets, the Australians will be full of confidence heading into the Boxing Day Test.

The day started with the Aussies having made 146 with five wickets lost, looking to make a statement with the bat and grow a lead that would make the match very difficult for the South Africans.

Signs were looking grim early for Elgar and his men, with Travis Head and Cameron Green playing an attacking style of game. From the moment Cameron Green’s wicket was taken, the game turned on its head. The Gabba crowd got their money’s worth in an enthralling Day Two.

Here are the moments that mattered from Day Two at the Gabba.

Starc Claims Number 300

After being so close in the first innings courtesy of a dropped catch by Travis Head, Mitchell Starc claimed his 300th test wicket. In typical Starc fashion, his familiar trajectory across the right-handed batter, it hit the seam and cut back sharply off the pitch, Rassie van der Dussen had left a minimal gap between bat and pad in attempting to cover his off stump through which the ball snuck to smash into middle stump.

A moment that many won’t forget but not just for the occasion but also what was about to transpire. The wicket leaving the South African team in all sorts, with only three runs on the board, two wickets down and still trailing by 62 runs.

Mitchell Starc, a modern day fast bowling icon to many, reached the rare benchmark in his 74th Test, at only 32 years of age. He’s becomes one of the quickest to reach the milestone when compared to world fast bowling counterparts Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson and Trent Boult.

All Systems Are Green In The Gully

Cameron Green is starting to make the gully field position his own in the Australian side. The youngster has already claimed many great catches in the position so far, but none could top his outrageous catch off skipper Pat Cummins’ bowling.

South Africa were already in strife at 2/5 after the lunch break, opener Sarel Erwee had seen his skipper Dean Elgar pinned LBW by Cummins in the innings’ second over before van der Dussen was castled. Erwee looked the most solid of the Proteas top-order solely by surviving more than 20 balls.

But that ended when the left-hander attempted one of the few attacking shots of his 23-ball stint, attempting a square drive scorching over Green’s head only for the most imposing fielding presence in Test cricket, to haul in the chance at full stretch.

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Death, Taxes and Boland Taking Multiple Wickets In An Over

Australian cricket fans are used to it by now but the world is now taking notice of the Victorian pacer Scott Boland. Seemingly at the level, Boland takes wickets for fun in just one over each game.

After taking 2/28 off 11 overs in the first innings on Day One, Boland once again showcased his trademark wicket taking ability. In the 24th over of South Africa’s innings, Boland returned to double up in the over, with the wickets of Kyle Verreynne and Marco Jansen.

Leaving the South Africans down to 6/48 and still trailing in the match, Boland finished his spell eight overs later with 2/14, in what is becoming one of the great bowling stories of the modern era. The MCG is next for the team with the Boxing Day Test which marks 12 months since his six wicket phenomenon last summer. With Josh Hazlewood looming for a return from injury, Boland has definitely made selection a tough job for this upcoming test.

The most difficult of 34 runs

The Australians were set a target of 34 to score to win the test inside two days. Australia has only once hosted a Test in which four innings were compressed into six sessions, this ended at the conclusion of this test.

The only other Test match completed inside two days in Australia, came during the West Indies first visit here in 1930-31 when they were dismissed for 99 on Day One, before overnight rain in Melbourne made batting tricky enough for the home team to declare at 8-328 before rolling the visitors again for 107.

The pitch seemingly at its most difficult to play on, one which will have the eyes on the ICC Match referee Sir Richie Richardson’s grading of the pitch. The third session on Day One was arguably the best time to bat, proven by Travis Head’s first dig, however that was not the case on Day Two in Australia’s chase for victory.

Warner was caught in the slips after making three runs with fellow opener Usman Khawaja only making two, this left Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne looking the likely two batters that were able to take Australia to victory. Smith was very attacking in his batting, which led to a loose cut shot off of the bowling of Kagiso Rabada, snicking it to the keeper.

Australia three wickets down for 19, Head came to the crease full of confidence after his first innings heroics was subsequently out first ball, after nicking the ball to the South African keeper and to the shock of many, giving Elgar and his men a chance.

Thanks to an unlikely counterpart, extras who topped scored for Australia with 19, there was no doubt the result was complete. Australia taking a first test win comfortably by six wickets, heading to the famous Boxing Day Test at the MCG with hopes of a pitch more conducive for batting.

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