Now, Proteas have the look of the hounded: Roebuck

March 19th, 2009 - 1:43 pm ICT by ANI  

Sydney, Mar.19 (ANI): The Australian cricket team has not resolved all of their difficulties and nor is the side settled, but it is hungry for success, not to speak of it being fearless and hard to subdue, claims cricket columnist Peter Roebuck.
In an article for the Sydney Morning Herald, Roebuck says that while at present, the scoreline stands at 3-2 in favour of Australia, there is a need to carry out a fair reflection of the play.
Curiously, he says both teams have performed better away from home, largely because both sides were on top of themselves and, therefore, their games in these periods.
It has been a marvellous and illuminating campaign, and far a cry from the dreary run-feasts staged on docile pitches elsewhere. The series Down Under was an epic, while the current exchanges tell of the rise and fall of man, Roebuck says in his article.
As much as anything, the changing fortunes of the captains lie behind this turnaround. Smith’’s injury and Ricky Ponting’’s recovery have been the crucial factors in the reversal. Leadership has always been the critical issue in cricket, and everything else, he adds.
Smith’’s injury was vital to his team’’s defeat in Sydney. In a stroke, it took away a productive opening batsman whose partner was struggling, and the team’’s main driving force. Even then South Africa only lost with a few balls to spare after a titanic battle deep into the final afternoon.
Seldom had a loss so closely resembled a victory. Smith went home to fix his bones and was able to play in the first two matches of this series. But he has not been as commanding a figure, at the crease or on the field. His team has seemed happier conquering foreign fields than protecting its own patch.
Had their opponents remained the same, South Africa might have survived their shortcomings. But the Australians have played with the gusto missing in the home series. Ponting himself has been rejuvenated. He tends to express the mood in his camp, not define it. Given the chance to lead a bunch of likely lads, and cast for the first time in his career as a challenger, he has responded with a vibrant performance, says Roebuck.
Now, Australia has their chance to win the series 3-0.
South Africa is not suddenly a bad side. Smith and company had won 10 successive series. However, they know, now, the price champions pay to retain their position.
Cape Town offers them a chance not so much to secure a consolation victory as to restore confidence. (ANI)

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