Like a pig in ****

As regular readers will know, I write this blog as the game progresses so what starts off as one thing ends as another and today is no exception!

From the number of you following this particular set of ramblings and ravings I get the impression that you’re about as excited about this match as watching paint dry or grass growing; and to a degree you’re correct.

However, this is not the crash bang wallop of thrash and bash nor the excitement generated by Test matches but this is the pure hard graft of the engine room of the game.

It’s in the first class game where potential test players develop, where skills are honed and the patience needed for the long game practiced. The wider stage – as in all walks of life – grows in matches like these.

Add to the pot the fact that in Australia as elsewhere the first class game has been marginalised, played at the wrong time of the season, downgraded in status and not publicised and you are where we are.

The view of the locals attending is that this is a ‘nothing’ match and each side putting out a ‘second XI’. I can’t comment but from what I’ve seen, the standard looks good.

But for me – I’m like a pig in ****! The setting is idyllic, the weather fine (cool southerly wind today taking the edge off the temperature), the cricket absorbing. What can I ask for?

Lunch on day 3 sees SA at 4/213 – Drew went in the first over with the new ball just before lunch for 85 and was really undone – and hit – by the ball before. The new ball bouncing that little bit more. At one stage SA seemed to have stopped and came to a halt against what looked like reasonable but not difficult bowling. Are they playing for the draw already?

The new ball brings both wickets and runs so that, with 30 minutes until tea, SA took the initiative. Lehmann went to his hundred and immediately declared at 7/309; conceding a lead of 138 on first innings. There was a distinct urgency after lunch but the declaration took most of the crowd by surprise and sets up the rest of today and tomorrow.

Multi-coloured scoring!
Lehmann in full flow
Long haired bowlers lend to great photos!
Chris Tremain – almost praying!
Manenti – did someone teach him this?

What target do NSW set? What would SA want to chase? How long for each? Will NSW be bowled out in time or can NSW bowl SA out? There are 140 or so overs left in the match, so any forecast is as good as any other! And NSW don’t want the honour of being the first side in their history to have a winless season!

Personally I think chasing 325/350 in the time left – say all day tomorrow – could be a challenge but it means NSW getting 200 in the 40-odd overs left today. All to play for!

As the day draws to a close it’s clear that NSW are timing this perfectly. A slow start after tea but they up the pace in the second hour after MacDonald and Hackney each score 50s and the lead closes in on 300.

They’re scoring at 4 an over without any problems and SA don’t look like taking a wicket any time soon; so, I suppose that NSW are worried about taking 10 wickets on a flat pitch with little discernible help for the spinners tomorrow.

Personally I’d have Jack Edwards padded up and ready to really up the pace. From what I’ve seen so far, he’s a talent to watch and international honours are not out of the question.

Jack Edwards

But time and overs are the main elements in each side’s equations for tonight’s homework! The lead is 341 at the close…is that enough?

A decent target, a couple of quick wickets and dressing room panic soon sets in. I think NSWs bowlers are a notch or two above the SA attack – all of which means I can’t wait for tomorrow!