South Africa showed they were willing to divert themselves from the formula that proved successful in England by making two changes to their starting line-up for the crucial third and final Test against Australia in Perth.
However, the batting line-up failed to measure up to the revamped Australian bowling attack with Faf du Plessis once again being the lone resistance, with 78 not out, on an otherwise Australian day. South Africa were bowled out for 225 and Australia reached 33/2 at the end of the day, but Graeme Smith would have hoped for more after winning the toss.
Both Imran Tahir, following his disastrous match in Adelaide, and Jacques Rudolph, who has failed to assert himself in the South African middle order, were both dropped with Dean Elgar making his debut and Robin Petersen coming back into the team since his last Test appearance four years ago. For those of us fearing the Proteas couldn’t make the tough choices, they just did. Now they need to get down to business.
Du Plessis once again showed the application required against an energised Australia, who took the radical step of replacing their entire seam bowling trio, though one of those changes was injury enforced. AB de Villiers’ poor run with the bat continued and serious questions need to be asked whether he should be keeping and batting, since the experiment has rendered one of the world’s most talent batsman a mere bystander this Test season thus far.
Dale Steyn, who has under-performed this series along with the rest of the South African attack, showed some spit and fire when Australia began their short day at the crease, dismissing Ed Cowan on his third delivery. Vernon Philander finally also claimed his first wicket of the series, trapping Shane Watson in front, after a terrible outing at the Gabba and missing the second Test due to back pain.
South Africa fought back from 132/7, and while Australia still hold the aces, the Proteas through a fine bowling performance tomorrow morning can get back into the game. However, if Australia win the first session, it seems unlikely South Africa will be able to come back.