South Africa came perilously close to giving up 500 runs in one day in Adelaide, with Michael Clarke yet again showing his class to score an unbeaten double century. What did we learn from the day's play?
South Africa came perilously close to giving up 500 runs in one day in Adelaide, with Michael Clarke yet again showing his class to score an unbeaten double century, while David Warner and Michael Hussey drew confidence from their own tons. What did we learn from the day's play?
1) Clarke's knock was supreme.
He may have survived a few edges here and there early on, but no-one can reasonable say his innings was a lucky one overall. He scored his fourth double century of 2012, the only person do score so many in a calendar year, and his second in a row against the Proteas.
He looked as fresh as a daisy when he walked off at stumps, having gone at nearly a run a ball and wasting as little energy as possible by avoiding singles. He hit 39 fours and a six in the day, and none of the bowlers knew how to bowl to him.
Clarke is also so good at instilling confidence in his partners. First it was Warner, who really needed a big score to banish questions about his place in the side. They put on 155 together, and Clarke was the supporter as Warner made 119 in 112 balls. He knows when to attack and when to retreat.
Hussey's ton was an emotional one for him as he'd had trouble scoring big knocks against the Proteas in the past. When he hit the six in to the construction site that brought up his century, he clung onto Clarke and shed a tear, it meant that much to him.
2) Injuries did much of the job for the Aussies.
Before the day had even begun, South Africa were a man down. Vernon Philander, the number two bowler in the world, awoke with a back spasm and had to be replaced by Rory Kleinveldt, who it could have been assumed would have been waiting a while for another cap.
Kleinveldt's issues with no-balls did not appear to have been resolved as he overstepped six times, and went at nearly five to the over without taking a wicket. An able replacement he was not.
Then, Jacques Kallis had to go off the field after removing two batsmen early on, with what was apparently an hamstring injury. He went to hospital for scans, and at the time of writing it would appear he will play no further part in the game.
And then! Dale Steyn also left the field for a while, clutching the back of his leg, and it was feared that the Proteas would be three top-line bowlers down in one day. He returned to action near the end of the evening session to remove Hussey, but his situation will be monitored closely.
3) Tahir was toilet.
Look, everyone deserves a second chance. Imagine if the Australian selectors had dropped Shane Warne after his poor debut, where he went for 150 runs and took one wicket? But the Proteas leg spinner has had quite a few of those and has yet to overly impress.
He was originally brought into the side to replace Kleinveldt and give Smith a decent spin option, but he ended up being a burden and the frustrated skipper had no option but to persist with him after losing Kallis.
Tahir's first few deliveries foreshadowed what the rest of his day would be like. He was hit for six twice in his first three overs, and it got worse from there as the Aussies used their feet to his inconsistent bowling. He went for 157 runs in 21 overs, without taking a wicket.
Tahir also made the mistake of sending down not one but five no-balls, which is poor for any bowler but criminal for a spinner. Faf du Plessis, who can barely be called a part-time tweaker, was more economical, didn't over-step, and pitched the ball in mostly the right places.
4) Top order troubles for Oz.
Ricky Ponting's dismissal was humiliating, really. Kallis pitched it full and beat the veteran batsman all ends up, Punter ending up on his knees on the pitch. It was ungainly and cringe-worthy, and he had only made four runs.
Ponting's place has been up for much debate, especially given his duck in the first Test, and even he admitted that low scored at the Oval could mean the end of his career if he's dropped again. Aussie fans will be hoping he gets a chance to bat again and come good.
On the other end of the spectrum, playing in only his second Test is Rob Quiney. He was kept in the side despite making only nine on debut at the Gabba, because Shane Watson was not fit enough to play.
He was out for a duck, edging Morne Morkel to the slips, on a wicket that ended up being true and a batting paradise. Luckily for the two batsmen, and Ed Cowan who got 10, Pup, Bull and Mr Cricket knew what needed doing.
5) What happened to objective commentary?
Listening to former Australian players commentating on the match was an exercise in patience. By the time Clarke drew near to his double century, Ian Healy and company were giddy with delight, referring to the Aussies as 'we' and cheering, a clear sign that the objectivity line had been crossed and was a dot in the distance.
One of the more amusing comments to come from Michael Slater was that Dale Steyn is 'South Africa's version of James Pattinson'. He didn't mean that both a fiery and like to get into the batsmen's faces, he was comparing them as bowlers. Erm... no. Give Patto a few years and then check again.
Another gem was the declaration that, 'There's no way Australia will bowl as badly as this'. Which is, frankly, impossible to predict. Sure, they probably won't, and Lyons is a better spinner than Tahir, but let's wait till the Proteas bat on this lovely track before we make such statements, maties.
What stood out for you on day one?
Lindsay du Plessis