3rd Orange Test: Australia v South Africa at Sydney, 2-6 Jan 2002
John Polack

Australia 1st innings: Lunch - Day 1, Tea - Day 1, Stumps - Day 1,
Pre-game: Aus wins toss,


The dateline might have changed but there wasn't too much difference in the look of the scoreline as openers Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden combined to hand Australia early command of the Third Test against South Africa in Sydney today.

Exactly as they had been through the final five months of 2001, Langer (126) and Hayden (105) were emphatically on song at the start of 2002, hoisting Australia toward a mark of 5/308 by stumps on the match's opening day.

In adding 219 for the opening wicket after captain Steve Waugh had won the toss on another warm morning in hazy, bushfire-charred Sydney, the pair remarkably raised a fourth double century stand for the summer. It now means that no opening pairing in the annals of Test cricket has registered more partnerships in excess of the 200 mark. And there certainly hasn't been any in history that has scored as many within the space of just nine appearances as a combination.

The home team's position was weakened nonetheless when a hard-working attack hit back to claim all five of the day's wickets in the final session.

It was in that period that Hayden edged a Shaun Pollock (2/64) delivery to slip and Langer played off bat and pad to silly point fieldsman Neil McKenzie from the bowling of the sparingly used Nicky Boje (1/25). In between those dismissals, Ricky Ponting (14) - not the first time in this series - was run out after Langer had pushed a ball to cover and set off the stroke. Later, Steve Waugh (30) also succumbed, beaten as he played outside the line of a Pollock off cutter with the second new ball. And Mark Waugh (19) then complicated matters in the very last over, perishing as he cut errantly at Allan Donald (1/64) and edged a catch to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher.

Yet Langer and Hayden's efforts ensured that this was again a day largely owned by Australia.

There was a nervous period for the twin left handers through the opening half-hour as both Pollock and Donald extracted notable seam movement with the new ball. Langer's outside edge, in particular, was beaten more than once and he later played two shots over the slips cordon and one through it in the air.

Accordingly, it wasn't an opening partnership based on the sort of total domination of the attack that has characterised some of their previous efforts. But it was pretty darn impressive all the same.

Langer's 12th Test century - and an astonishing fourth for the 2001-02 summer alone - was typically full of well-crafted strokes, many of them released from off the back foot.

For its part, Hayden's seventh Test century - also a fourth for the season - was raised more slowly and its arrival was not accompanied by quite the same degree of exuberance. But it was similarly punctuated by a series of powerful strokes, with one crunching cover driven boundary off Donald before tea even staking claim to be classed as the shot of the entire Test summer.

Through a wretched middle session, the South Africans' woes were further compounded as Boeta Dippenaar's penchant in this series for ending on the wrong side of catches continued. With the total at 168, Dippenaar dropped a comfortable waist-high offering at square leg as Hayden (on 68) miscued a sweep at Claude Henderson (0/28). Therein it extended a run of misfortune that has seen the young South African spill three chances in the series and fall to three barely conceivable catches when it has come his own turn to hit balls in the air.

Worse was to come just before tea when Boucher failed to grasp an outside edge as Langer - on 102 - pressed half-forward at Boje.

Confirmation from national selector Graeme Pollock on ABC Radio that the team originally chosen to play in the match was vetoed overnight by the United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA) failed to ease the sense of calamity either.

The UCBSA adopts a policy that at least one coloured player should always be part of its eleven, and accordingly chose to supplement Herschelle Gibbs' presence with the inclusion of young all-rounder Justin Ontong in the side ahead of batsman Jacques Rudolph.

But it still represented something of a shock move, albeit that Ontong was by no means the Proteas' worst player on a day when he bowled two tidy overs and orchestrated the departure of Ponting.


Runs are flowing about as freely as liquid refreshments for revellers on a New Year's Eve as Australian openers Justin Langer (106*) and Matthew Hayden (102*) continue an extraordinary association on the first day of the Third Test against South Africa in Sydney today. By the tea interval, the two prolific left handers had hit the home team to a total of 0/215 as it establishes a platform from which to press for a potential 3-0 series whitewash.

Following partnerships of 158, 224, 223, 3, 1, 80, 8, 202 and 7 in their nine previous appearances together at the crease, Langer and Hayden have almost completely dominated the opening two sessions of the first Test of the new year. There was an early period through which they were made to work particularly hard but, beyond the first 45 minutes of the match, bat has thoroughly dominated ball.

On a pitch offering few concerns, each has played with marvellous understanding of when to attack and when to defend, with several furiously hit strokes played through the field at various moments. Langer has been very impressive off the back foot and Hayden off the front, with one crunching cover driven boundary off Allan Donald (0/57) from the latter even staking claim to be classed as the shot of the entire Test summer.

Langer's 12th Test century and an astonishing fourth for the summer, for its part, has been full of well-crafted strokes to both sides of the wicket. And it has also even been a little reminiscent at times of the play of the man from whom he won back his berth in this team in August. Michael Slater, more than once in his career, played and missed on occasions early in an innings and issued the odd streaky stroke over and through gaps in the slips cordon before assembling a series of thrilling attacking shots.

Hayden's seventh Test century - also a fourth for the season - was raised more slowly and was not accompanied by quite the same show of exuberance. But it has been another mightily impressive innings.

The tourists, meanwhile, have bowled far too many 'four balls' and not sustained any real sense of control over the scoring rate. As Langer and Hayden have established dominance, so they have slavishly been lured into losing their line and length. Frustration has supplanted discipline.

And, as if to underline the extent to which things have gone askew for the South Africans, their plight was compounded when Boeta Dippenaar, with the total at 168, dropped a comfortable waist-high catch at square leg as Hayden (on 68) miscued a sweep at Claude Henderson (0/28). Dippenaar, brilliantly caught by Ricky Ponting in Adelaide and by Hayden himself twice in Melbourne, can seemingly not take a trick when it comes to catches in this series. He spilled two chances at short leg in the previous game of the series and now came another frustrating moment as the man persistently out to rippers found a method of dropping a sitter.

Worse was to come just before tea when a chance offered by Langer, on 102 and shortly after jubilantly greeting the arrival of his century, was dropped by wicketkeeper Mark Boucher. He pressed half-forward at a delivery from the sparingly used Nicky Boje (0/2), attaining an outside edge but deceiving a snatching Boucher with the stroke.


Though it hasn't been a wholly convincing start, Australia's Justin Langer (46*) and Matthew Hayden (42*) are once again in the business of producing an imposing opening partnership on the first day of the Third Test against South Africa in Sydney. At lunch on a warm day, the Australians are stationed at a mark of 0/93 and well placed to take advantage of a pitch likely to play truly throughout the two sessions which follow.

The pair has already produced some mammoth partnerships in their short association together, even to the point of becoming the first set of opening batsmen in Test history to register three double century unions in the course of one season. And, while they made a more uncomfortable beginning than normal this morning, at least one more record has already fallen in this innings - with their country's previous best-ever opening stand against South Africa in Sydney having been cast from the books.

That was one of 74, raised by Warren Bardsley and Charlie Macartney as long ago as the 1910-11 season.

The South Africans, for their part, weren't afraid to exercise a raft of options, switching the bowlers consistently and changing not only their line and length but also their angle of attack from both over and around the wicket.

Opening bowlers Allan Donald (0/36) and Shaun Pollock (0/16) kept things tight early, conceding only 17 runs from the first ten overs of the match. They were also desperately unfortunate not to snare a wicket, beating the outside edge of Langer's bat, in particular, on a series of occasions as the pitch offered encouraging seam movement through the first half-hour. A luckless Donald later returned to again beat Langer twice in succession - and also see the ball driven over the slips cordon - shortly before lunch.

It was only when the Western Australian struck two meaty off side boundaries from successive Jacques Kallis (0/29) deliveries just before the drinks break that the Australians genuinely began to establish command. There followed some typically brutal strokes down the ground from Hayden, some lashing cuts from Langer, and even one delightfully hoisted six over mid wicket off Claude Henderson (0/11) in the midst of the match's opening over of spin.

That blow from Langer came toward the end of the session during which the only clouds hovering over the scoreboard for Australia were provided by the hazy remnants of bushfire smoke continuing to drift toward the ground from the west.


After a brace of hot days, and in the face of a temperature forecast to touch 32 degrees, play is about to commence in the Third Test between Australia and South Africa at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Underneath the blanket of wispy haze that has reached the ground from the series of bushfires raging all across a scorched Sydney, it has been a good start for Australia this morning. The home team, already clasping an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the series, has won the toss and given itself the chance to bat first.

On a well-grassed pitch, that is likely to make the early going for Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer hard work. But, once the new ball's shine is removed, the surface is likely to become particularly favourable for batting. While it may not yield turn quite as prodigious as in some Tests in the recent past, there should be increasing encouragement for the slow bowlers too - which means that the inclusion in the Australian eleven of two leg spinners, Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill, will also be suited by the choice to bat first.

In addition, the conditions in themselves are expected to make the dressing room - rather than the outfield - a better place from which to be watching the action today.

South Africa has already pulled a shock in the midst of the two changes to the eleven which lost by eight wickets in the Second Test in Melbourne - not only including left arm spinner Nicky Boje (hastily rushed to Australia this week) but also promoting all-rounder Justin Ontong for his debut ahead of Jacques Rudolph.

Ontong, who will celebrate his 22nd birthday on Friday, is a promising right handed batsman and emerging spinner but did not enjoy an auspicious match the last time he played at the SCG - scoring a pair and claiming 0/58 from just 12 overs. That was the only match in which he has previously participated on tour.

Aside from Lance Klusener (who has returned home to be with his pregnant wife), the other South African missing from the last Test is fast bowler Nantie Hayward. Hayward can consider himself unlucky to have missed out as he has been one among the more spirited of the Proteas' players in the two largely forgettable performances produced in the series to date.

© CricInfo

Date-stamped : 03 Jan2002 - 06:41