Aussies invincibility aura gone

HARARE - When Australia and South Africa took to the field in Hobart for the second Test last Saturday, there was a sense of inevitability as to the result.

However, nobody expected to see the home side bowled out for 85 on the first day.

It was always going to be an all lose situation for Steven Smith and his men, but the manner in which they capitulated to South Africa reminded me of the horror Tests in 2005 when Zimbabwe were beaten inside two days at Newlands in Cape Town, and again by New Zealand at Harare sports Club.

The pitch was always going to be a Vernon Philander type of pitch, which was similar to the pitch at Headingley in England.

The overcast and rainy conditions suited big Vern down to the ground, but, he still had to put the ball in good areas, and that is exactly what both he and Kyle Abbott did, and the Australians had no answer.

This was the first time Australia had lost an opening series of their summer since 1988 against the West Indies, but the difference is that the West Indies were operating with their full strength lethal bowling attack which sent shivers down the spines of every batsman who graced a cricket pitch, while South Africa were hampered by the loss of Dale Steyn due to injury, Morne Morkel to a combination of match fitness and confidence, and their mercurial batsman and skipper AB de Villiers, also due to an elbow injury.

There has been talk that de Villiers may be available for the third and final Test which will be played under lights at the Adelaide Oval, but would you really want to tinker with a team who beat Australia by 177 runs and an innings and 80 runs respectively?

If anybody in the top order were to lose their place to de Villiers, it probably would be opening batsman Steven Cook who has sadly done very little after his century against England earlier this year.

Australia have become the butt of many jokes in a short space of time, and it has been suggested (tongue in cheek) that a Test series between themselves and Zimbabwe may make for interesting viewing.

South Africa on the other hand are dealing with a sticky situation of their own.

Footage has revealed captain Faf du Plessis using saliva and a sweet in order to get maximum reverse swing from the older ball, but whether anything will come off the footage remains to be seen.

For the moment at least, the South Africans can and will rightly bask in the glory of a phenomenal achievement, thanks to their younger players such as Kagiso Rabada, Temba Bavuma, Abbott and Quinton de Cock.

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