After two days of ground inspections, not much cricket, fast moving mizzle and South African batsmen today was exactly what test cricket is meant to be about.
A fine day, decent colourful crowd, decreasing windiness and a day that fluctuated with New Zealand getting stronger as the day went on.
The first session was pretty much business as usual. South Africa piled on 116 runs for only Duminy’s wicket, two centuries were brought up and the hosts looked as dispirited as they did on the first two days.
Then Martin made a double blow after lunch and suddenly everything seemed different,. And Gillespie, despite alleging after day 1 that he was the true into-the-wind bowler in Wellington proceded to prove he’s a lot better bowling downwind, and every time he got the ball wickets fell.
He finished with 6/113. That’s three tests against South Africa for Gillespie now and 3 5WI. His kind of side to bowl to.
In between all this there was a typically punchy innings from Boucher, an excrutiating 14 ball duck from Steyn and talk on the bank of the two elephants in the room bowling from the southern end.
The Vettori one is tricky. 42 overs without ever looking like taking a wicket but, in Wellington when the breeze is up there is an important role to be played there. Remember how much Gillespie struggle in that role on the second day.
And the other issue is Williamson. He’s bound to get called some time soon.
So SA finished on 474/9dec; short of the 500 they would have planned. But that left 25 overs for NZ to face before stumps against the 4-pronged attack. Gulp.
The main excitement there was when Flynn smacked one straight at Duminy fielding under the lid to hit him fair and square on that lid. What is it about Flynn and balls hitting helmets?
But, apart from a period when Morkel, who only really bowls the one length, roughed up Flynn, the openers looked in relative comfort in making it through to stumps without loss. Who would have picked that when the declaration was made?
And didn’t the ground look a picture?
It was a good crowd in too, and one dressed in various sporting kits. In order.
- Various iterations of the NZ cricket strip. The inevitable beige, current T20 shirts, the 1992 World Cup grey outfit and, strangely, that ghastly teal from the 1990s.
2. Phoenix shirts. There were a lot of those, but they all cleared out mid-afternoon.
3. The 2011 All Black RWC shirt. They’re tight little things.
4. Crusaders. No escape there.
5. India ODI shirts.
6. Wellington NPC shirt.
7. Barcelona (all children, all with Messi on the back) Man U, England cricket etc…
8. Not a single Hurricanes shirt