Australia’s gamble to bowl first has paid off with the pace cartel demolishing the South African top order in the first session at the Gabba
Aussie skipper Pat Cummins defied the cricket tradition of always batting first by choosing to bowl on a Gabba green top in the first Test against South Africa after winning the toss.
Former Australian captain Ian Chappell once famously said: ‘When you win the toss, nine times out of 10 you elect to bat. The tenth time, you think about it and again elect to bat first’.
While his decision brought back memories of Nasser Hussein’s fateful decision to bowl first at the Gabba two decades ago – a decision that saw England crushed by the Aussies – there was nothing to fear as the Aussie bowlers ran riot.
South Africa’s Temba Bavuma was forced to dig in after the Aussies ripped through the Proteas’ top order on Saturday
Cummins steams in and Boland celebrates another wicket after he retained his place in the team with Josh Hazlewood ruled out through injury
Pat Cummins became the first Australia captain to opt to field after winning the toss at the Brisbane venue in 22 years and the bold decision reaped rewards on a green pitch.
Another Scott Boland super spell has helped Australia take control of the first Test at the Gabba, with South Africa collapsing to 4-84 at lunch on day one.
Without a fighting 57-run partnership between Kyle Verreynne (35 not out) and Temba Bavuma (21no), the Proteas’ position would have been far more dire after they had crashed to 4-27.
Cummins of Australia celebrates taking the wicket of Rassie van der Dussen of South Africa for five runs
Australia made a wayward start, with Cummins’ first two balls sliding down to the boundary for consecutive four leg-byes.
‘They’ve bowled about 18 balls and I think they’ve got about one in the right area,’ former Australian Test batsman Mark Waugh said in commentary.
‘They’d be disappointed the Australians so far with what they’ve dished up. They were a little bit all over the shop.’
But the fearsome bowling attack quickly found its line and length.
Mitchell Starc claimed the crucial wicket – the 297th of his Test career – of opener Dean Elgar (three) when the South Africa captain failed to get his gloves away from a short, bouncing delivery.
But it was about an hour into the session when the carnage began, with Cummins dismissing No.3 Rassie van der Dussen for five as the Proteas lost 3-0 in 11 balls.
Cummins returned from a quad injury for this match, taking the place of luckless Queenslander Michael Neser, as Boland retained his spot.
There was plenty of colour in the crowd, with this group dressing as Stormtroopers including a trumpeter playing Darth Vader’s theme from Star Wars
Aussie cricket supporters dress as Where’s Wally/Waldo for the Test match against South Africa at the Gabba
But the Gabba crowd showed no ill-feeling towards the Victorian, warmly cheering Boland as he came into the attack in the eighth over.
The ground erupted during Boland’s second over, the bowler adding to his growing highlight reel by taking two wickets in three balls to finish with a double-wicket maiden.
The accurate right-armer dismissed opener Sarel Erwee (10), as Cameron Green grabbed a difficult catch in the gully, before he trapped Khaya Zondo lbw for a duck.
In his fifth Test, Boland has 23 wickets and his average still remains under 10.
Boland celebrates the wicket of Khaya Zondo as the South African top order crumbles in the first Test against Australia at the Gabba
The Proteas, who won the infamous ball-tampering scandal series 3-1 four years ago, have had even more of a makeover than Australia since the rivals last played each other in a Test.
Prolific legends Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis have retired, leaving Australia to deal with a South African batting line-up even Cummins is unfamiliar with.
South Africa opted to play five front-line bowlers at the Gabba, with Verreynne batting at No.6, followed by giant bowling allrounder Marco Jansen.
The Proteas’ strengths rest with their bowlers, led by star paceman Kagiso Rabada, who dominated Australia in 2018.