Full house laps up Aussie win
International Twenty20 cricket made a stunning debut in Australia as the home side cruised to a commanding 95-run victory against South Africa in Brisbane.
Yorkers, an absolute disgrace. Like bodyline in the 1930s, a full-pitched ball in Twenty20 cricket is, well, just not Twenty20 cricket. Such ruthless accuracy, intended only to stymie batsmen, is a blight on the shortened-shortened form of the game, and the International Cricket Council must act to outlaw the practice - before strike rates dip below 10 an over.
The above rant is proudly sponsored by the South African top order, which struggled mightily against the "foot theory" of Australian quicks Nathan Bracken and Mick Lewis in last night's first Twenty20 international to be staged on these shores. Restricted to 2-10 from their first three overs, the tourists were never in the race, eventually bowled out for 114 off 18.3 overs to lose by 95 runs after the home side posted 3-209.
Australia, veterans of the Twenty20 game with three internationals under their belts, appear to have stumbled across the first legitimate 20-over defensive tactic. Toe-crushing. And though that might count as new, some things about Twenty20 cricket don't change. Like the full-house signs outside the grounds at which it's played. In the Gabba's case, an all-time record crowd for a cricket match of 38,894 crammed the grandstands to catch a form of the game that can no longer be dismissed as a mere fad.
The lopsided nature of the contest hardly seemed to matter. From the outset, when the South African quicks also set missile-lock on the Australians' sneakers, the crowd roared appreciatively. Those roars reached ear drum-perforating point when Jacques Kallis graciously mixed up his length to Andrew Symonds, resulting in a 17-run over.
Early on, though, it appeared the Gabba was to be denied a tonk-a-thon by the cunning yorker-laden game plan of Graeme Smith who, until Ponting "legitimised" the tactic later in the night, was set to eclipse Douglas Jardine for unpopularity in Australia. Perhaps sensing as much, Smith did attempt to win back favour by spilling a straightforward catch from Damien Martyn, claiming he lost it in the lights. "My chest is too big," Smith told Channel Nine within seconds of turfing the chance via an on-field microphone. "It was a shocker."
Indeed. Martyn would become the first player in the rich, four-game history of Twenty20 international cricket to carry his bat through a full 19 overs, finishing with 96 from 56 balls before falling in the final over. Symonds clubbed an unbeaten 54 from 26 balls at the death to set South Africa an intimidating target of 210. At least we think it was intimidating. We haven't got much to draw on here.
Martyn's innings saved Australia from the relative embarrassment of a sub-200 total. In keeping with the sponsor's terminology, the Australians started the innings hoping for a family feast, but instead were restricted to nuggets and a few cold chips in the early stages.
After James Hopes fell for 17 and Ricky Ponting 27, both suffered the indignity of having a microphone thrust in their faces, forced to relive their downfall before getting a crack at upending the dressing room. At least both achieved retribution during the South African innings - Hopes with two wickets and Ponting executing a breathtaking run out of Kallis.
Bracken, Symonds and Lewis also claimed two wickets apiece; none a card-carrying member of the short-back-and-sides brigade. That seemed fitting. Informality, after all, was the order of the day.
Commentators ditched ties in a desperate bid for "Twenty cred", the Australian players sported nicknames on their uniforms and the DJ spun tracks almost non-stop. Judging by the full-house on hand at the Gabba, it all must have struck a chord.
Except those yorkers. An absolute disgrace.