Cummins praises brave Australia after series win over South Africa

Victory in the third Test would earn Australia a place in the World Test Championship final at The Oval in June 2023


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Australian players celebrate after Australia's Nathan Lyon gets the wicket of South Africa's Marco Jansen. -- AP
Australian players celebrate after Australia's Nathan Lyon gets the wicket of South Africa's Marco Jansen. -- AP

Published: Thu 29 Dec 2022, 1:44 PM

Last updated: Thu 29 Dec 2022, 8:17 PM

Australia captain Pat Cummins praised the “incredible achievements” of his injury-hit team after the home side beat South Africa by an innings and 182 runs in the second Test on Thursday, clinching the three-Test series 2-0.

Resuming on 15-1 in their second innings and needing 386 to make Australia bat again, the Proteas were bowled out for 204 at tea on day four, crashing to their biggest defeat in a Test in Australia.

That eclipsed the previous unwanted record of a defeat by an innings and 163 runs in Brisbane in December 1931.

Australia are on top of the ICC Test Championship and victory in the third Test in Sydney would guarantee a place in the Championship final at The Oval in June 2023.

Australia are counting the cost of victory, though, with all-rounder Cameron Green and paceman Mitchell Starc unavailable for the third Test starting on Jan. 4 in Sydney, both due to finger injuries.

“All the incredible achievements this week, Starcy with a finger that’s going to put him out for a few weeks, to have the bravery to go out there and do that. Cam Green the same, gutsing it out for us,” Cummins said after the Melbourne Cricket Ground win.

“We saw Steve Smith (making 85 despite suffering flu-like symptoms) and Davey (Warner) batting on day two in 38 degrees (scoring 200 in 99-degree Fahrenheit heat), gutsy, gutsy innings.

“It is probably the best team, you know, Test team I’ve played in just in terms of how well settled everyone is. We can just all sit back and appreciate the place that we are in at the moment because it’s really special.“

Australia spinner Nathan Lyon ends the year as the leading wicket-taker in Test cricket in 2022 with 47, alongside South Africa’s pace bowler Kagiso Rabada.

Lyon claimed 1-53 and 3-58 in the second Test, while Rabada was criticized by South Africa’s bowling coach Charl Langeveldt for lacking control as he conceded 144 runs from his 28 overs in Australia’s 1st innings while taking two wickets.

Tamba Bavuma top-scored for South Africa with 65, although he also played key roles in two runouts.

Starc, nursing a tendon injury to the blood-stained middle finger on his bowling hand, took 1-62 off 18 overs in a courageous performance.

Bavuma and Kyle Verreynne (33) added 63 before Scott Boland (2-49) removed Verreynne lbw at 128-5 in the fourth over after lunch. Marco Jansen (five) fell in the same fashion to Lyon 16 runs later, following a video review.

Lyon took the key wicket of Bavuma who was caught at mid-on at 177-9.

Medium-pacer Green claimed a career-best 5-27 in South Africa’s first innings of 189. All-rounder Green also scored an unbeaten 51 in Australia’s reply of 575-8, retiring hurt for six with a broken right-index figure before returning to share a century partnership with wicketkeeper Alex Carey (111) for the eighth wicket.

Man-of-the-match Warner, who scored 200 in his 100th Test, along with half-centuries from Smith (85) and Travis Head (51), gave Australia a solid foundation before the late-order heroics of Green and Carey allowed Cummins to declare with a 386-run advantage.

The victory was Australia’s first Test series win at home against South Africa since 2005-06. The Proteas were victorious in 2008-09, 2012-13 and 2016-17.

“It was a pretty weak performance I’d say, in conditions which I really felt were in favor of really good Test cricket,” South Africa captain Dean Elgar said of his team's 189 and 204 innings totals.

“Whether it was today or tomorrow, I still wanted to see us with a fighting chance, going out and still giving the Aussies a bit of a tough time, really taking pride in our wickets. The way it unfolded is quite disappointing.”

Elgar said fast bowler Anrich Nortje, who took 3-92 and bowled with fearsome pace, and wicketkeeper/batsman Kyle Verreynne (52 and 33), were two of the biggest positives to come out of the match.

“Even though the Aussies batted us into the ground, I really saw a lot of character come out in our bowling ranks. Maybe not as much in our batting,” Elgar said. “It’s a tough one to digest.”


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