Australia v South Africa: third Test, day three – live | Cricket

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Key events

If you’re feeling glum about the weather, this might cheer you up for 58 seconds.

I think the rain has stopped? But there is definitely more coming.

Tony Greig’s Weatherwall: we’re getting periods of deluging rain followed by periods of lighter rain. Chiarroscuro.

Simon Sive writes in. “What are the risks that South African test cricket follows a similar (albeit less pronounced) trajectory to Zim from the late 90s?”

Not that extreme, I would think, given that at least South Africa is not run by a dictator. There is corruption in South Africa, and CSA until recently had a bunch of crooks in powerful positions. But the worst were eventually ousted, there is substantial government oversight, and there is at least a good chance that decent cricket people can outweigh the influence of the self-interested. Very different to how Mugabe’s regime was often actively hostile to cricket, while his mates still wanted to control it and get hold of the incoming ICC revenues.

At the moment CSA is just trying to recover the financial damage from those years, and stay solvent. Test cricket is not the priority because it’s not a revenue spinner for them, given the relative lack of crowds and low value in South Africa of broadcast rights. But that doesn’t mean that it will be dispensed with entirely. I think there is too much pride in that country’s cricket for that.

South Africa had an all-time great batting line-up until a few years ago. They have a very poor one right now. But these things can move in cycles.

“Interested in your thoughts about the prospect of a draw,” writes Tom Ruggles. “The weather looks reasonable after today but it doesn’t look like we’ll get much play this afternoon. Presuming Australia put on a few more later this afternoon and then declare, if, as normal, SA lose a few quick wickets, do you think they’ll start considering a draw if they haven’t already? Could we see a rare example of Australia enforcing a follow on?”

Definitely. The reason Australia (and most teams) don’t enforce the follow-on is because it’s usually not necessary. If you need to bowl more than about five sessions at the end of the game, your bowlers will be cooked and so you probably won’t win anyway. Hence batting a couple of sessions in the third innings to give them a rest first. Also Tests no longer have rest days, which used to factor into the old-fashioned follow-on era, and there is usually another Test a few days away, where there used to be long breaks.

This is exactly the scenario where a modern team would enforce the follow-on. Last match of the series, nothing immediately after it, and if this day is washed out then they’ll need to bowl back-to-back to have a path to a win. That gives South Africa the incentive of knowing that they just need one good innings out of two, and they can hold the other team at bay.

Ric Finlay back on his signature beat.

Dates of Sydney washouts:
Jan 2, 5, 6, 7, 7, 10
Feb 2, 3, 4, 7, 11, 13, 25, 26, 26, 28, 29, 29
Mar 1, 3
Dec 12, 15, 16, 18, 18

— Ric Finlay (@RicFinlay) January 5, 2023

Really hosing it down at the SCG now. Even if the rain clears, there will be a lot of clean-up time. My sweepstake entry is… 2pm local time at the soonest. About four hours from now.

“Thank you for the updates through the day!” writes Tim Linsell. My pleasure, chatting through the rain is a delight. “Can you hear the Richies clearly from the press box? Sitting next to them yesterday and their singing wasn’t very clear even to those in the next bay.”

If I can be completely honest, I’ve never found their singing very clear even from the grandstand. The only song that I remember was Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Mitchell Starc the New-Ball King. Which I thought was lyrically pretty good. But that was at the women’s Test at North Sydney Oval, and there were more female singers, so it helped the intelligibility.

I didn’t hear the Richies yesterday, but the press box here is on the top level and quite far away from reality. Symbolic disconnect between The Media and The People. I did see a lot of Richies whenever I wandered around the ground or outside, which I like to do a few times a day.

As for players departing, there are some absurd headlines about Steve Smith this morning because he was asked how long he would go on, and he said he wasn’t sure, he would play as long as he was enjoying it. Non-answer to a non-question.

But there is the question of how well Australia can stagger the exits of Warner, Khawaja, Smith. The latter is a little younger, 33 to the 36 of the others. But if they all went within a year of one another, that means replacing half the batting in a short space of time. They’re still in a much better position than they were during the sandpaper suspensions though, with Labuschagne, Head and Carey all coming on with the bat, and Green looking as promising as he has.

“Mostly emailing you to provide entertainment and amusement,” writes Murray Henman. Bless you. “I hope Khawaja gets his double today, but it’s been a rather disappointing summer of Test cricket here. To provide some mental activity, can you perhaps try to predict when the older members of our team will retire, and who might replace them?”

Firstly, disappointing, yes. From my experience though there are two kinds of Australian summers. One, most of the time, Australia beats everyone and those of us watching grumble about the lack of competitive cricket. Two, occasionally, someone beats Australia and then everyone here loses their minds with red-hot anger and demands a full review and restructure of Australian cricket.

The radar suggests that there is clear air after this rain system, but the system is big. It’s coming from the ocean, moving northwest, but it’ll take at least a couple of hours to pass by. Might be more. I’m not a… weather… reading… guy.

There’s a little movement on the boundary line… why is Jim Maxwell down there making a presentation to Usman Khawaja. Oh! It’s the McGilvray Medal. That is the ABC broadcast’s award for the Test player of the year. They hand this out at the Sydney Test each year. So, nice to see Jim down there in front of the cameras rather than the microphone. And just as well they’ve got it done, because soon afterwards the rain becomes much heavier.

You can email me. And you might as well, considering I have nothing else to do. Try Twitter as well, if they’ve put some more petrol in the tank. Address details are at the top of the page on your phone, or the sidebar on your desktop.

What happened yesterday? We did get some rain, mostly near the end, but plenty of play to deflate the South Africans. Usman Khawaja will be the most anxious to get going again, on 195 not out.

Here’s the detail from our report.


Hello, hello, and happy Pink Day from the SCG. That’s day three of the Test, when the fundraising efforts for the McGrath Foundation breast cancer charity go into overdrive. I can tell you that the spirit is strong here today. On the walk in, torrents of pink, everybody dressed in it to varying degrees. Pink tour groups, pink umbrellas, pink charity collectors at every turn.

Umbrellas, though, because of course it is raining. The covers are on, with pink sponsor branding. The illuminated pink boundary boards glow through the morning gloom. The only thing ruining the colour scheme is the sky, which is grey. Though to be fair, if the clouds went away then it would still not be pink. But pink and blue is a much more cheerful combination. And an early Mountain Goats song.

Anyway, we’ll keep you updated from here, and hopefully there will be some play before too long.

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