Five-fer: Talking points from day three

Australia

The highlights of the day were the wickets taken by Mitchell Johnson, as well as the double century stand put on by David Warner and Alex Doolan. There was very little to cheer about for the Proteas.

Day three of the first Test at Centurion was not a Happy Valentine's for the South Africans, as they walked of the field trailing Australia by 479 runs, and with Michael Clarke and Shaun Marsh well set.

The highlights of the day were the wickets taken by Mitchell Johnson, as well as the double century stand put on by David Warner and Alex Doolan. There was very little to cheer about for the Proteas.

<b>1. Magnificent Seven</b>

Two days in a row with a Mitchell Johnson-related point, we know, but it cannot be avoided. He added to his four wickets on day two by bagging three of the last four required on day three, and thus recorded his third-best innings figures.

His 7/68 was not quite the 8/61 he took against the Proteas in Perth in 2008, or the 7/40 he bagged against England in December, but they were the second best figures at Centurion, and made sure the hosts were all out for 206.

He has now taken 44 wickets in the five and a half Tests since his return, averaging a smidge over 13, and only allowed Nathan Lyon to break the monotony on day three with the wicket of Vernon Philander.

<b>2. What's That Saying About Dropped Catches?</b>

Jonty Rhodes must have watched this fielding effort from the Proteas and wanted to rip his long, strawberry blonde hair out at the bizarre lack of commitment, not to mention the droopy shoulders and lowered chins in the evening.

While the general fielding was average, the Proteas will look back at the three dropped catches against David Warner, the first one in particular, and want to bash their heads against the Castle Corner wall after he ended up scoring 115.

Dean Elgar, on the field for literally minutes in the absence of Dale Steyn, called for a skied catch that saw three fielders converging… and then put it down, with Warner on 26. The other drops, by Alviro Petersen and Graeme Smith in the slips, were much tougher, more like half chances. But still.

<b>3. Wonderful World Of Warner</b>

Heavens above, now Saffer fans know what the Barmy Army felt like, and may have wanted to be drunk by lunchtime too, having to watch the pocket dynamo with a furry top lip score yet another century.

Warner's knock was filled with luck in the first half, as mentioned previously, as he was dropped on 26, 27 and 51, but in between all the flashy cuts and swipes, he played some wonderful cricket shots.

This was his sixth score over 50 since his return to the Aussie side after a series of indiscretions last year, and his third century. He loves playing in South Africa, as shown during his brief exile when he played for Australia A here and made 193. Ominous for the rest of the series.

<b>4. What About Watto?</b>

Oh now, this is a conundrum for the selectors. Shane Watson missed this Test due to a calf injury, and thus Alex Doolan came in at three and Shaun Marsh at four. Both have done brilliantly, with Doolan making 89 on day three.

His innings, on debut, was a classy knock and he will be gutted about getting out in such a tame fashion to a part-time spinner in JP Duminy. He stuck with Warner as they put on 205 runs together, and looked every inch the Test batsman, despite a slow start.

And Marsh, who made a ton in the first innings, was on 44 at the close and looked in imperious form. So he's unlikely to be dropped, but one will feel very sorry for Doolan if he has to make way for the all-rounder in PE.

<b>5. Walking Wounded</b>

By the time the Proteas left the field at 6pm, already mentally battered and bloodied, three key players were not looking all that comfortable physically. Dale Steyn, who had been off the field sporadically, looked to have tweaked something in his upper leg.

Added to Morne Morkel's shoulder injury on day two, he was seen having some treatment on his ankle and only bowled 11 overs after coming on as second change. Both he and Steyn were fairly expensive.

Then, most worrying at this point, was wicketkeeper, and maker of a crucial 91 runs, AB de Villiers. He was seen rubbing his hand and grimacing in pain near the end of the day, having possibly re-injured the hand he had surgery on just weeks ago.

<b>Lindsay du Plessis</b>

Latest