Alex Carey gets a kick out of Test cricket, writes Greg Baum

Undeterred, Carey began to construct a classic Test innings. He is well balanced at the crease – foot-wise one would say he has ability on both sides – meaning he can play early and late around the wicket. Lungi Ngidi’s three consecutive fours that took him to 50 were his innings in miniature. The first was a pounding climb, the second a pull, and the third a textbook off-drive. It’s nothing if not easy on the eye. You could watch him for a hobby.

Carey’s repertoire is broad due to his T20 experience, which means he always has a trigger shot on hand and is rarely tied. He used reverse sweeps to control Spinner Keshav Maharaj. Nortje tested him with a bouncer he towered over for four. Far from being chastised, when Nortje bounced him off again on the next ball, he clipped him for another boundary.

Alex Carey draws a different line.

Alex Carey draws a different line.Credit:Getty Images

Cameron Green joined alongside Carey. Batting with a broken finger, he was bound to be more limited than Carey but perfect as a foil. Green also has a footy pedigree and plays in WA’s under-16 team before settling on cricket. He’s another who may have escaped.

He and Carey have grown close in the Australia team and when Carey finally punched Marco Jansen through cover to go to 100, it was Green at the back of the non-forward who was the first to raise his arms in triumph. Carey waited, taking in the moment. This first time will not come back.

In an Australian batting order that was twice reshuffled due to retired injuries, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon were already out before Carey and Green put 117 for the eighth wicket as Australia extended their lead to 386. Only then did they explain.

Starc also batted short and then opened the bowling with a bloody hand, meaning South Africa was partially ruled out by two men who were already confirmed too injured to play the next game. That can’t be good for a team’s self-esteem.

Pat Cummins celebrates the sacking of fellow captain Dean Elgar.

Pat Cummins celebrates the sacking of fellow captain Dean Elgar.Credit:Getty Images

It was merciless from Australia, who played to the last man, and caused some upset. It’s a strange thing about cricket fans that they can’t wait for the Test match to come and then wait for it to be over. This is Test cricket; it should last as long as it takes.

Plus, with tours of India and England and a likely Test championship final rushing to Australia next year, they’ll have to practice their ruthlessness.

It worked. As could only happen to the captain of a side in the besieged state of South Africa, in the gathering gloom, captain Dean Elgar promptly nudged a leg-side catch from Cummins to Carey, adding a duck to previous scores of 3, 2 and 26. The ball came to Carey on an awkward trajectory, but as they say in that other game, he has good hands.

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Ryan Sederquist

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