Brisbane: Australia’s bowlers must make the most of second new ball if they want to get anything out of the rain-disrupted first Test against South Africa after disappointing on the opening day, coach Mickey Arthur said on Saturday.
The second day of the contest was washed out by the Brisbane rain but, if the wet weather relents on Sunday, Australia will still need to dislodge seven South African batsmen before they get a chance to bat.
The tourists had reached 255 for two on Friday, with Hashim Amla (90) and Jacques Kallis (84) at the crease in an unbeaten third wicket partnership of 136.
Australia’s pacemen James Pattinson, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus were about to get hold of the second new ball when bad light brought an early close to play on Friday.
“[Our bowling] probably wasn’t good enough, I thought we got our lengths wrong, I think we needed to be a bit fuller,” Arthur conceded at a rain-soaked Gabba.
“We weren’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but we weren’t as clinical as we had been and as we had hoped to be. We weren’t able to put South Africa under pressure for long enough.
“So, on our report card, probably disappointing. We discussed it, and I was confident the guys would have come back today and executed better.
“We still have the second new ball up our sleeve, that’s the one trump we have and we have to make that work for us.”
Arthur said that the “massive hype” before the series, in which South Africa’s number one Test ranking is on the line, had perhaps made some of his seamers nervous.
“When I say disappointed, I say that lightly because first and foremost I thought South Africa batted very well,” he said.
“Maybe nerves played a part, but that is something we have to overcome because we have to be on the money from the first ball.”
Arthur gave South Africa batsman JP Duminy his Test debut when he was coach of the Proteas on their last tour of Australia.
Duminy was ruled out of the rest of this tour after rupturing his Achille tendon while training on the Gabba pitch after Friday’s play.
That left South Africa with just 10 healthy batsmen for the match at the Gabba but Arthur’s first thoughts were with the player.
“To see a guy get injured and be out for six months is a tragedy,” Arthur said. “My thoughts go out to him and I’m sure he will be back fighting fit in six months.”
Arthur also expressed his surprise that South Africa had gone with four pace bowlers and dropped specialist spinner Imran Tahir — a decision that looks something of a gamble now they have been deprived of Duminy’s spin.
As to how the match would pan out after South Africa dominated the first day and the second day was lost to rain, Arthur said it was still too early to tell.
“There’s been a huge chunk of the game taken away, we’ve still got to play very, very well to give ourselves an opportunity to win it, or if we can’t win it, make sure we don’t lose it,” he said.