Three million bucks, five wickets, zero problems. That was Cameron Green’s week, after the big all-rounder followed his Indian Premier League auction success by bagging 5-27 in the Boxing Day Test in front of more than 64,000 people. His contribution saw South Africa bowled out for 189 after again being sent in to bat by Australian captain Patrick Cummins, confident in applying the squeeze to a team that has now gone seven innings without reaching 200. In reply Australia had moved to 45-1 by stumps.
All out for 152 and 99 to start the series in Brisbane, South Africa made only one change, bringing all-rounder Theunis de Bruyn in to bat at No 3 in place of Rassie van der Dussen. Australia went unchanged, with Scott Boland given the chance to repeat his Boxing Day heroics from last year after Josh Hazlewood told medical staff he was not completely confident in his recovery from a side strain.
On a relatively cool morning with some cloud around, Cummins was happy to bowl first on the theory that, if the wicket was to offer any bounce or movement, it would likely be on the first day. In the end the play worked to perfection, dismissing South Africa late in the day and ensuring that the visitors will be fielding on the second day with the forecast suggesting 37 degrees.
Things started well for South Africa, at least compared to their Brisbane debacle, with Dean Elgar and Sarel Erwee batting through the first 10 overs and Elgar surviving what should have been a return catch driven back to Cummins. Boland predictably was the agent of change, beating Erwee with a perfect delivery before having him edge a wider ball to slip. Moments later he burrowed a ball through Elgar that rolled into the stumps but did not dislodge a bail.
A score of 56 for one was reasonable going in the 20th over, then South Africa hit self-destruct when de Bruyn played a smeared pull shot at a ball that was too full and outside off stump. It went high in the air to the wicketkeeper. Elgar achieved the niche distinction of becoming the third player to make 5,000 Test runs without ever being run out, then promptly ran himself out, hitting straight to Labuschagne at cover and setting off. Temba Bavuma nicked Starc behind on the next ball, beaten by the scrambled seam and some movement away. In a trice it was 58-4 , and not yet lunch.
That became 67-5 when Khaya Zondo hit Starc to a diving Labuschagne catch at cover, and the repair work fell to bowling all-rounder Marco Jansen and wicketkeeper Kyle Verreyne. Batting cautiously before becoming expansive, they each made half-centuries and batted well past the tea break. Jansen is batting too high at No 7, looking dicey in defence and being reprieved by a tough chance to Starc and a simple one to Usman Khawaja, but at times he was good in attack, driving the quicks and taking on Nathan Lyon’s spin with drive and sweep. Verreyne hit the square boundaries in following up his excellent 64 from Brisbane.
It was Green who intervened, drawing edges from Verreyne for 52 and Jansen for 59 within three balls, then castling Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi to record his first five-wicket innings of a nascent but increasingly formidable Test career. Lyon had rival spinner Keshav Maharaj caught slogging, the tail all gone for single figures. The first five wickets fell for 67 runs, the final five fell for 10, with the familiar story of only one partnership in the middle: a vital 112. A score of 189 was far less than South Africa needed and more than they might have hoped for at some points.
Khawaja completed a bad day by pushing forward at Rabada to nick him to Verreyne for one run, but David Warner shrugged off any concerns over his recent returns and the attention around his 100th Test match to make 32 not out, taking on Rabada’s short ball with the pull shot and uppercutting Anrich Nortje to the fence. He will resume on Tuesday with Labuschagne on five, the temperature spiking, and Australia once more in the ascendancy.