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Proteas finally show some fight to salvage a draw against Australia in Sydney

The Proteas held on for a draw to avoid a whitewash against Australia. Photo: Dean Lewins/EPA

The Proteas held on for a draw to avoid a whitewash against Australia. Photo: Dean Lewins/EPA

Published Jan 8, 2023


Cape Town - South Africa finally showed some old-fashioned fight and courage on the final day of this punishing series in Australia.

It saved the Proteas from the ignominy of suffering a first 3-0 whitewash in Australia since 2001. Such have been the slim pickings on this tour that it is indeed something to celebrate.

Equally, the fact that Dean Elgar’s team posted their highest score of the series too in the first innings - 255 - although it was still not enough to avoid the follow-on which provided Australia with one final opportunity to stick the knives in.

But there was to be no drama in the final 47 overs with Sarel Erwee and Temba Bavuma closing out South Africa’s second innings when the two captains agreed to shake hands.

The resistance in the first innings was provided by the two South African spinners Keshav Maharaj and Simon Harmer. Both had been expected to play a bigger role in this Test match with the ball, but the consistent downpours over the first two days restricted their impact.

They therefore knuckled down with the bat and put together a solid 80-run partnership for the eighth wicket. Maharaj (53) brought a much-deserved half-century, while Harmer also contributed 47. The former was the more aggressive, utilising just 81 balls, striking a half dozen boundaries and a six. Harmer’s vigil lasted 165 balls.

Unfortunately their partnership was followed by the customary collapse with Josh Hazlewood picking up wickets to finish with the impressive figures of 4/48.

Australian captain Pat Cummins had no hesitation in inserting the Proteas again, and there was sufficient time for Elgar to close out his miserable tour in much the same fashion.

The Proteas’ skipper’s technique in dealing with rising deliveries down the leg-side has been exposed in Australia and he was dismissed in that manner once again to finish the series with just 56 runs at an average of 9.33.

Australia had their opening and may have had plenty more if off-spinner Nathan Lyon had a bit more good fortune with the officials.

A couple of “umpires call” decisions went against Lyon, while a Steve Smith “catch” in the slips was also ruled not out upon television reviews.

This allowed Heinrich Klaasen, who was only playing in his second Test, to take South Africa to relative safety at 75/2 when he was eventually bowled by the reverse-swing of Hazelwood.

The remainder of the afternoon meandered with Erwee, in particular, fighting on in the bid to ensure he remains part of the Proteas’ plans when the Test side reconvenes in February for the home series against the West Indies.