Australia meltdown and other talking points as South Africa register resounding win in Newlands Test

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Morne Morkel picked up a five-wickel haul in his final Newlands appearance.

South Africa completed a remarkable 322-run victory over Australia in the third Test at Cape Town to take an unassailable 2-1 lead in the four-match series.

With the spectre of the ball-tampering saga casting a dark cloud over the Newlands Test, the hosts bundled out the visitors for just 107 runs in front of a vociferous home support after setting them a huge target of 430 runs in the final innings.

Here, we look at the key talking points from a Test that will live long in the memory of cricket fans around the world.

BALL-TAMPERING SAGA’s AFTERSHOCKS

After Steve Smith’s admission that the ball-tampering plan was hatched by Australia’s ‘leadership group’, the cricketing world was left shell-shocked.

When the time came to take the field on Sunday, it was wicket-keeper Tim Paine who led the side out as Smith and his deputy David Warner were stood down from their roles for the Test.

Smith was later handed a one-Test suspension by the ICC and fined 100 per cent of his match fees while Cricket Australia opened their own investigation into the cheating scandal. It was no surprise, therefore, to see Smith receive the loudest boos of the day from the Newlands crowd as he walked out to bat.

The Aussies, especially Smith, faced a hostile crowd throughout the day as ‘sandpaper-gate’ dominated Sunday’s play.

LYON GETS TO 300

After Morne Morkel had breached the 300-wicket mark in the first innings, Australia’s Nathan Lyon became the second bowler in the Test to reach the mark.

The off-spinner joined the club when he had Kagiso Rabada stumped by Tim Paine in the first session on Sunday. In doing so, he became the seventh Australian bowler to reach the 300-wicket mark in Test cricket.

It was a rare moment of celebration for the Aussies on the fourth day after looking like a deflated bunch.

AUSTRALIA SELF DESTRUCT

Chasing 430 to win in the second innings, the visitors got off to a good start with openers David Warner and Cameron Bancroft racing to 57-0 in 20 overs. Disaster struck after that, as Bancroft was stitched up for the second time in the Test as Warner set off for a suicidal single. Faf du Plessis did not miss his mark with the throw as the protagonist of the ball-tampering saga made his walk back to the pavilion.

Very soon, Keshav Maharaj had Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh dismissed off successive deliveries after Warner was dismissed while guiding a Kagiso Rabada delivery straight into the hands of AB de Villiers at third slip.

In the space of 20 balls, the visitors had lost four wickets and the innings spiraled out of control.

NEWLANDS PLAYS ITS PART

Losing four wickets in quick succession was not the end of Australia’s collapse at Newlands. In the simmering cauldron that was the Newlands on Sunday, the crowd got their money’s worth when Smith, in a carbon copy of his first-innings dismissal, edged Morne Morkel to gully for just seven runs.

As the crowd delivered their loudest roar of the day, Australia’s cause was well and truly lost with the dismissal of their best batsman. The procession of batsmen walking back to the dressing room continued as a sense of inevitability engulfed Cape Town. A deflated Aussie bunch seemed to be going through the motions as the last five wickets fell for just 21 runs to give the hosts a resounding victory with Morkel finishing with 5-23.

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Time for Steve Smith and Australia as a sporting nation to hang their heads in shame

Alex Broun 25/03/2018
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Steve Smith during the fourth day at Newlands.

The peanut gallery is loving this.

By that I mean any sportsperson or fan who has ever had to suffer a demoralising defeat at the hands of an aggressive Australian sporting team.

They are loving this: the comprehensive professional and personal humiliation of Steve Smith’s Ashes winning-side at the hands of an impressive South African line-up.

A few short weeks ago Smith was being compared to the Don – now he’s being looked at more like a master of another ancient art-form: Bozo, the clown.

Cameron Bancroft’s pant shifting antics could also earn him a place in more salacious cinematic offerings.

As a (once proud) Australian it’s all been pretty hard to watch.

From Davey Warner’s bleatings in Durban to the Aussies capitulation in Port Elizabeth it’s become harder and harder to stomach.

Over the last few days Australian cricket has descended into broad farce.

It’s hard to know what is more ridiculous: Warner having his own private body-guard patrolling the boundary rope, Bancroft putting the “sticky next to his d—-” – as one Australian ‘newspaper’ so colorfully put it.

Or the batsmen’s meek surrender in the fourth innings on Sunday, where they were literally running themselves out so desperate were they for the Test to end.

But let’s get one thing straight – Australia is still a great sporting nation and whatever happened at the foot of Table Mountain doesn’t change that.

The Australian cricket team – like the nation itself – has changed dramatically in recent decades.

Once a genteel bunch horrified at the ‘bodyline’ tactics of Douglas Jardine, they were morphed by Ian Chappell then Allan Border and finally Steve Waugh to a baying bunch of dogs, ‘mentally disintegrating’ their way to the top of the cricket world.

Australia the country has similarly moved to darker terrain.

Once a nation built on “mate helping mate”, John Howard (a noted cricket lover) moved it a sharp step to the right inducing a wave of solipsism, bigotry and fear of the other.

The Australia of 2018 is a far cry from Bob Hawke’s Australia or even Robert Menzies.

Hawke no doubt would be privately decrying the crass acts of Steve Smith and co as “bloody un-Australian”.

And that’s the thing about Aussies – we can dish it out but we sure find it hard to take.

Warner was quick to berate Quinton de Kock for crossing the line in Durban by referring to his family in a sledge-fest, but then Warner had done the same thing repeatedly hours before.

Live by the sword – die by the sword.

Two true Australian sporting heroes - John Eales and George Gregan

Two true Australian sporting heroes, John Eales and George Gregan.

Smith’s team is discovering that the hard way.

The greatest sporting teams are the ones who make it look effortless as they crush all before them – Messi’s Barcelona, Brady’s Patriots, Curry’s Warriors, Maradona’s Argentina, Pele’s Brazil – and Australia has had a few of those.

John Eales’ Wallabies, Rugby World Cup champions in 1991 and 1999, were a side who carried themselves with greatness on and off the field – and names like Toutai Kefu, Tim Horan, George Gregan, Jason Little and Eales himself will always be uttered with respect and considerable awe.

As will Rod Laver, Kenny Rosewall, Cathy Freeman, Shane Gould, Betty Cuthbert – Bradman himself.

No longer will the name Steve Smith command such respect. Or Cameron Bancroft. Or David Warner. Or any of the young men who have tarnished the baggy green over the last few weeks.

The sin itself was trivial and altogether pointless – Australia losing the Test by 323 runs – but the intention was hellish.

This was pre-planned, team-wide, criminal collaboration against – as Malcolm Turnbull said – both the rules and spirit of the game.

As joyously as all Australians celebrated their superb victory over England, they just as venomously have turned on Smith and his co-conspirators as the details of the deception emerged.

The admirable end of day confession came far too late.

The Aussies may as well not even bother to turn up for the fourth Test in Johannesburg. Hopefully Darren ‘Boof’ will give his final order as coach and tell the bus to head straight from Newlands to the airport.

The failed ball tampering has already become the subject of ridicule – the stain upon the ethos of a great sporting nation will take much longer to fade.

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Bottle top, zipper and other items used for ball-tampering

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Cricketers have never been shy of trying ingenious ways to gain any sort of advantage on the field. Some may call it cheating, others resourceful. But the fact is players at the highest level constantly push the limits of what is permissible during a match in order to give their team the edge.

Australia’s ball-tampering controversy during the third Test in Cape Town has sent shock waves across the world, not because a player was caught tampering with the ball but because captain Steve Smith admitted it was a collective decision by the senior members to go ahead with it.

While the spotlight is not on how the Aussies attempted to cheat the game, the way they went about doing it makes for interesting viewing. Cameron Bancroft isn’t the first player to be caught trying to alter the condition of the ball by unfair means. Here we take a look at the items used over the years to ‘make’ the ball:

TEETH

The most outrageous attempt at ball-tampering. During an ODI against Australia in Perth in 2010, Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi picked up the ball and started to bite into it oblivious to the cameras focused on him. He was banned for two T20s.

SHOE SPIKES

In 2010 during an ODI in England, Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar dropped the ball while walking back to the pavilion and stepped on it. Akhtar had earlier been fined for picking on the ball with his fingernail.

MINT

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis was caught on camera sucking on a mint during the second Test in Hobart in 2016 before using his saliva to shine the ball. Du Plessis fined 100 percent of match fee. Rahul Dravid was fined 50 per cent of his match fee for rubbing a cough lozenge on the ball during a 2004 ODI against Zimbabwe.

NAILS

Quite a common practice to rough up one side of the ball. Players like Vernon Philander (2014 Galle Test against Sri Lanka) and Waqar Younis (2000 ODI against Sri Lanka) have been found guilty of using their finger nails to rough up the ball. In 2001, Sachin Tendulkar was accused of using his fingernails to tamper with the ball during the Port Elizabeth Test but his ban was overturned.

BOTTLE TOP

New Zealand players Chris Pringle and the late Martin Crowe admitted upon retirement that they used bottle tops to gouge the ball during the 1990 Faisalabad Test against Pakistan. The logic given was that both sides were doing it so the umpired turned a blind eye.

ZIPPER

Faf du Plessis was earlier charged for using a foreign object to change the condition of the ball in a 2013 Test against Pakistan in Dubai. He appeared to rub the ball against the zipper on his trouser pocket and was fined 50 per cent of his match fee.

STICKY TAPE

Australia’s Cameron Bancroft admitted to using sticky tape to collect dirt and then use it as a sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town. Tried to hide his act by hiding the object in his underpants but was caught on camera.

VASELINE

India accused England of unfair tactics during the 1977 Madras Test after the umpire saw a Vaseline laced strip used by pacer John Laver. India captain Bishan Bedi lodged a complaint and lab tests found Vaseline on the ball. No charges were made.

DIRT

England captain Mike Atherton was fined for using dirt from the pitch to work on the ball during a Test against South Africa at Lord’s in 1994. However, he was not removed from captaincy nor was he suspended.

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