Review of Australia-South Africa Tests-1

South Africa won the recent series 2-1, thus completing a hat-trick of successive Test series victories in Australia. They had earlier won 2-1 in 2008-09 an 1-0 in 2012-13. However, Australia was doing better in South Africa, winning 2-1 in 2008-09, drawing 1-1 in 2011-12 and winning 2-1 in 2013-14.

It may or may not be significant that Australia won the last Test which was a pink-ball Test, the second to be played in Australia.

Here we see the summary of all Tests between these teams:

aus-sa-summary

Australia still has a healthy lead across all venues. The long-forgotten neutral Tests were part of the Tri-Series in 1912, the only Test series of its kind. It was given up as a bad idea (appropriate as it was the year of the “Titanic”).

However these were the first neutral Tests ever played. Kelleway and Bardsley scored centuries at Lord’s, and their names finally went up on the “neutral” batting board there in 2010 when another Test between Australia and Pakistan was played there. Marcus North and Shane Watson got on the bowling board then. It was the only Test where Shahid Afridi led Pakistan, and was followed by the short and ill-starred reign of Salman Butt.

Coming back to the usual numbers:

Batting:

Most runs (800 and above):

aus-sa-runs

Amla and Warner are the only current players here. Note Bradman’s meteoric series, in which he became the only Test player to be left on 299 not out. No one has scored 199* in a Test, though there have been a few 99*s.

Harvey and Ponting scored 8 centuries each, followed by Hayden with 6.

The most scores of 50+ were made by Ponting (19), Kallis (15), de Villiers (14) and Harvey (13)

Highest innings (175 and above):

aus-sa-hs

Nothing from this low-scoring series, though there are some from 2012.

Batting averages (Minimum 20 innings, average 30 and above):

aus-sa-bat-avg

Amla and Duminy represent the current players. Harvey has an average much higher than that of Graeme Pollock, the next in line.

Now for bowling:

Most wickets (30 and above):

aus-sa-wkts

Warne has by far the highest tally. Steyn, Siddle and Lyon represent the current players.

Best innings bowling:

aus-sa-innings-bowling

Nothing from the current players. Note the havoc which Grimmett used to cause.

Best match bowling:

aus-sa-match-bowling

Again, nothing from the current players though there is one by the recently-retired MG Johnson in 2014. Grimmett dominates here as well.

Bowling averages (Minimum 2000 balls, all instances):

aus-sa-bowling-avg

Grimmett and other old-timers occupy the top 3 places followed by Warne. Steyn, Siddle and Lyon are also there.

It can be seen that the best economy rate is by Goddard (1.72) and the best strike rate is by Whitty (41.1) followed by Steyn with 46.2

To be continued

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Shane Watson’s Test career

Although Shane Watson‘s Test career was not extraordinary, he fulfilled the role of a batting all-rounder for some years. His contribution to limited overs cricket was more striking, as he holds the record for Australia’s top score in ODIs (185*) and second highest in T20Is (124*).

Leaving out the Test against the ICC XI, he played 58 Tests, scoring 3697 runs and taking 75 wickets. If we compare his all-round performance in those of other Australians who had a minimum of 1000 runs and 50 wickets, it is above average but not outstanding (9th out of 22). The only other Australian of that time who might be called an all-rounder was Mitchell Johnson, who was a considerably better bowler but certainly a worse batsman.

Watson1

However, Watson does have one claim to fame in that he is one of only 4 players to feature on the “neutral” honours board at Lord’s. More about the honours boards here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord’s_honours_boards

Only two neutral Tests have been played here. One was between Australia and South Africa as part of the experimental triangular Test series of 2012:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/62391.html

Australia easily defeated South Africa by 10 wickets. In general it was felt that the triangular Test series was a bad idea and it was not repeated. The nearest revival it got was the interlocking tours of England and West Indies to Australia in 1979-80.

Then there was the Test between Australia and Pakistan in 2010:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/426394.html

The neutral honours boards thus have these entries:

Batting:

watson2

Bowling:

Watson3

(There is also a board for ten wickets in a match, which does not have any entries yet).

The actual board being “unveiled” with the new entries:

Watson4

This Test marked the Test debuts of Steve Smith (1, 12 and 3-51) and Azhar Ali (16 and 42). Watson got the first of his three fivers  while North got his only one here. This match marked Shahid Afridi’s only Test as captain; after this he retired from Tests altogether.

In the second neutral Test at Leeds, Salman Butt’s ill-fated captaincy began with a 3-wicket victory over Australia.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/426395.html

Watson recorded his career-best 6-33 in this Test, while the two As (Asif and Amir) combined to bowl Australia out for 88.