It’s taken some time and for his best mate to land the role, but finally Glenn Maxwell has a captain that understands his value to Australian cricket.
After being thrashed in the first match of the series, Australia looked to bounce back in the second at Adelaide Oval.
Shaun Marsh returned to the team, but, alas, the buttocks abscess that had prevented him from playing in the first ODI did not. Despite this abscess absence, Australia were confident of bouncing back.
Here are the ratings for the second ODI between Australia and South Africa.
South Africa won the toss and put Australia in to bat, which was excellent news for those of us with early dinner reservations.
Things were going mostly to plan for Faf du Plessis when Chris Lynn strode to the crease with the score at 2/66 after Marsh’s inevitable healthy-bummed dismissal.
For several overs, Lynn batted like a person who wasn’t a maniac, but inevitably grew tired of sensible strokeplay and decided he would instead smash Kagiso Rabada for eighteen from an over. Or, two-thirds of an over anyway. The first ball went for six, which was followed up by three fours from the next three deliveries.
It was a classic case of Lynnsanity and the Adelaide Oval crowd was going correspondingly nuts. Or as nuts as South Australians ever permit themselves to go. This was what they wanted from this powerful Australian batting line-up. This was what they’d paid to see.
Then, of course, Lynn was out from the fifth ball of the over, top-edging a shorter ball through to the keeper.
You know what they say: The definition of Lynnsanity is hitting the same massive boundaries over and over and expecting not to eventually be caught behind.
Here’s a fun quiz: Can you think of a five-letter word ending in ‘ITE’ that describes Australia’s ODI batting? (Hint: it’s not ‘elite’).
Travis Head was trite, making just eight.
Glenn Maxwell made this hard to write, taking nineteen balls to make his inevitable fifteen. (Your fifteen needs to come in eleven balls or fewer, Glenn, or else what’s the point of it?)
Marsh made just 22. Presumably out of spite.
Marcus Stoinis tried to smite.
Aaron Finch looked to unite.
And when Alex Carey was out, it was g’nite.
Is it time for a recall of Cameron White?
The World Cup
Most of Australia’s focus in this ODI series, and indeed, every ODI series since the 2015 World Cup, is the 2019 World Cup.
It’s a far smaller World Cup than in previous years, restricted to just ten teams. But, sadly, based on current batting form, that feels like probably still nine teams too many for Australia to be competitive.
Or are we jumping the gun? Is this perhaps instead the ideal preparation for a tournament taking place in the bowler-friendly conditions of England? Name me an international side that has an attack more used to defending small totals than this current Australian bowling unit. I’ll wait.
In contrast to Australia’s battle-hardened attack that has attempted to defend more subpar totals than they’ve had nonsensical metaphors from Justin Langer, South Africa must be utterly baffled. What’s their best seam attack going into the World Cup? Is it Steyn? Ngidi? Rabada? Pretorius? Phehlukwayo? Who can say?
Great work from the Australian batsmen to sow such confusion via simple displays of consistent ineptitude.
But all was not lost. First, there were scallops with shallots, pine nuts, fried chicken and lemon myrtle. Followed by pork scotch with black barley, currants, green apples and kale. All savoured alongside a sublime bottle of Moorilla Syrah 2014.
Hmmm? Oh, sorry.
Remember a few paragraphs back when I said I had early dinner reservations? That wasn’t a joke.
Bowler Number Optimisation
By the time I’d returned from my meal, some last-minute Zampsanity had seen Australia scramble to 231 all out. And also raised the question of whether Australia should just select a team made up of eleven bowlers, if they’re the only ones who are going to make runs anyway.
But Finch was approaching things from a different perspective. He’d decided he didn’t want eleven bowlers. Four was going to be plenty, because he was going to bowl out the seamers (Mitch Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Marcus Stoinis) in a bid to knock South Africa over inside forty overs.
Stoinis was so struck by this show of faith that he started getting rid of South African batsmen even when not batting, running out Aiden Markram.
Eventually, Finch realised it would take more than forty overs to finish the match and adjusted his numbers so Adam Zampa would bowl many of the death overs.
More importantly, Maxwell was called upon to defend twenty runs from the final over, his first. Naturally, he responded by bowling a delivery that destroyed Lungi Ngidi’s bat.
This was enough to ensure that Australia had defended their total of 231 with seven runs to spare.
A great morale-boosting victory for Australia and easily one of the best one-day internationals of 1994.