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End of an Era

December 3rd 2012 17:33
Today marked the end of an era, the end of the illustrious career of Ricky Ponting. He won more Test matches than anyone else. He scored more international runs than any other Australians in history. But he wasn’t able to end his Test career in the way he would’ve wanted. It would’ve suited the way his life in International cricket has gone, had he been able to conjure up a win for the Aussies as it would’ve taken them back to the World Number 1 spot, where he spent so much of his time. But today wasn’t to be his day, today was South Africa’s day.

Australian openers Dave Warner and Ed Cowan came to the crease knowing that survival was the aim of the game. The South African bowlers managed to get the ball moving more than they had last night and got the early reward of Warner. Watson and Cowan stuck together for a while before Morne Morkel removed the number 3 Watson caught by Smith at slip. This brought to the crease the man who everyone wanted to see, Ricky Ponting. He strode to the crease like a man who wanted to silence the doubters on his last outing, a man who wanted to go out in glory, he received a hero’s welcome from the Perth crowd, and in a gallant gesture the South African’s formed a guard of honour for Ponting as he came onto the square. It was a moment he said he would never forget on a day that he would never forget. However, the great Punter was unable to conjure up some world beating magic, and his last innings in International cricket ended when he was caught at slip by another great, Jacques Kallis off the bowling of Robin Peterson, he made just 8, in a final series that sent him off with just 24 runs. A tired, timid end to a great career.

From here on in Australia showed some fight, but never enough to last a couple of days. Wickets fell at regular intervals, to a superb joint effort from all the bowlers. Peterson on his return to Test cricket finished with 6 wickets in the match, including the key wickets of Ponting and Michael Clarke in the 4th innings of the match. Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander all bowled well to finish Australia off for 322. A huge win for South Africa by a margin of 309 runs.

Hashim Amla took the Man of the Match award, and Michael Clarke walked away as the Man of the Series for his 576 runs.

The main talking point now though, surrounds who will replace Ricky Ponting in the Australian side. Philip Hughes is the front runner for the place, but this throws up some big questions about the makeup of the team. Hughes has been batting at 3 so far this season and is more than likely to slot in there, this leaves Shane Watson’s batting position up for discussion. If he isn’t in the top 3, then he shouldn’t be in at 4 ahead of Clarke or 5 ahead of Mike Hussey, this puts him back down the order at 6. Neither openers are likely to be dropped, and having Watson at 6 does give him the opportunity to rest up after his bowling efforts, also allowing him to bowl more over's.

The retirement of great players will always create problems in the following matches. India have been able to fill the positions of Laxman and Dravid with Kohli and Pujara, but the decisions for Australia are more difficult with no obvious candidates putting their hands up.

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