Rain threatens to ruin Sydney Test – again But Australia has telegraphed its plan to save it from another catastrophe. Follow all the action from day four here.
10.15am: POSITIVE SIGNS AT SCG
The blankets are off and the players are in the middle, warming up. There’s an inspection in half an hour at 10.45 and barring more rain or setbacks we could have real cricket action within the hour.
Speaking of positives… Matt Renshaw is gone! He has given a negative Covid test and was properly able to rejoin his teammates this morning.
He has participated in the warm-up games on the pitch and is ready to continue batting once play resumes. He’s not outside.
9.45am: Testing plans for Day 4 in Australia are revealed
Whenever the game starts this morning – and it appears to be an 11am start rather than a 10am judging by the large covers still protecting the wicket from Sydney’s unsettled weather – we seem to know what Australia’s plans are .
They’re almost certain to keep batting judging by the sight of Matt Renshaw (5 not outside) wandering to the inside nets alongside a gloved Alex Carey on Saturday morning, as captured by CODE Sport’s Daniel Cherny.
The thought behind it is twofold.
Usman Khawaja, at 195, is on the verge of a first Test double century. He said after last night’s game it would be “tough” if captain Pat Cummins let him down with an explanation.
But the more important point is that it could be Australia’s best – and perhaps only – path to victory should Cummins be ready to impose the succession.
Adding another 75-100 runs would pressure South Africa’s brittle batting to avoid the follow-on (requiring them to come within 200 of Australia’s first innings result).
Then it comes down to whether Australia can take 20 wickets in a day and a half.
9:30 AM: RADAR THAT PROMISES GOOD
Hello from the SCG to the fourth day of the New Year’s test!
The news is far more encouraging after yesterday’s disappointing elimination – the 26th time a full day’s game has been lost in a Sydney Test. More than anywhere else in Australia combined.
It’s an ugly record to own.
And this morning it’s raining and the dark clouds are hovering over the SCG, but that’s better news on the radar where the rest of the day is looking a lot clearer.
I suspect there will be some cloud cover but perhaps not the persistent rain that ruined yesterday’s game chances.
Light might become a factor later in the day but I think there’s a good chance of seeing a decent bit of cricket today.
THE BIG MONEY BRIDGE THAT MADE TRAVIS’ HEAD
– ROBERT CRADDOCK
Do the Selectors owe Travis Head an apology or a thank you?
Anyhow, it certainly seems to have been one of the secret ingredients in Head’s rise to become a top-class Test batsman when he was dropped from the national contract list two years ago.
That was the year Australia experimented with a new theory of only naming 17 players instead of 20.
Head’s resurrection is proof they should use this tactic more often.
Instead of throwing a few soft contracts, they opted to throw a few burrs on saddles by asking fringe players to earn their deals on the run.
The head was initially shattered. He was on a camping trip in the Flinders Range, 450km north of Adelaide, when the list was announced.
The selectors had urgently tried to contact him, initially without success, so they delayed naming the list by a day.
The truth was, the Selectors always had a lot of affection for Head. They liked his natural attacking propensity but felt he was drifting and not improving and was too loose off the stump. They wanted to do something to focus his thoughts and his game.
Since being dropped from the list, Head has been rebounding on the home shore with some of the best form of his career.
He has sailed in Test series against England (357-59), the West Indies (312-156) and South Africa (213-53) with a stunning batting average, scoring just under a run.
The weak points were two series in Pakistan (68 to 22) and Sri Lanka (23 to 7) where his weaknesses against spin were exposed and it is true that this is the problem that needs to be addressed.
The four-day test tour of India will be an intriguing challenge for Head, but the mere presence of Usman Khawaja in the squad reminds us how players can improve against spin.
Early in his career, Khawaja was considered a poor spin player and there was a time when England tweaker Graeme Swann, who had sacked Khawaja five times, threatened to cost him his career.
But he worked feverishly on the nets to improve and is now one of Australia’s better spin players.
South African spinner Keshav Maharaj noted in his day one press conference that the Khawaja he faced at SCG was a different player than the one he faced in 2018.
“He is very confident in his defense,” Maharaj said. “He knows his scoring chances. He’s got really good hands. He’s a different player than four years ago.”
There were times when Australia could have shown more faith in Khawaja and taken him on more tours but Australia have learned from this and will look to let Head make his improvements on the run.
The results will determine his career.
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Originally published as Australia vs South Africa Test 3: Follow four actions from the SCG throughout the day
https://www.codesports.com.au/cricket/3rd-test-australia-v-south-africa-follow-all-the-day-four-action-from-the-scg/news-story/ae532541b660144bb6fce0f1d724c043?nk=6a98489f9a0b740e5d3481631c897dad-1673048173 Australia v South Africa SCG start time, Sydney weather, live stream, result updates