Australia on the rack at 3 down and 524 runs behind South Africa

When bad light ended play early, Australia was reeling at 88-3 and 524 runs behind in Johannesburg. (REUTERS)
Updated 02 April 2018
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Australia on the rack at 3 down and 524 runs behind South Africa

JOHANNESBURG: Africa trio Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, and Morne Morkel did most of the damage to leave Australia staring at a heavy defeat and a series loss on the penultimate day of the fourth and final test on Monday.
Du Plessis struck his eighth test century and combined in a 170-run stand for the fourth wicket with Elgar, who made 81, as the home team declared on 344-6 in the second innings to set Australia a near-impossible victory target of 612 at the Wanderers.
When bad light ended play early, Australia was reeling at 88-3 and 524 runs behind. Paceman Morkel, still nursing a left side strain he sustained earlier in the test, trapped openers Matt Renshaw and Joe Burns leg before wicket.
The highest winning fourth-innings score in test cricket was 418-7 by West Indies against Australia in 2003. To win in Johannesburg, Australia needs nearly 200 more, and would have to make the second-highest fourth-innings total ever — no matter the result — in nearly 150 years of test cricket.
A draw is by far the most realistic aim.
“Tomorrow’s about coming out and just putting in a good performance for Australia, try and do the country proud and just try and really knuckle down and be proud of our performance tomorrow,” Burns said. “It’s going to be a grind, it’s day five, last day of a really tough series, and there’s a hell of a lot of motivation to do well.”
South Africa is 2-1 up and on the brink of beating Australia in a home series for the first time since 1970. Australia has already been hurt by the ball-tampering scandal of the third test, which led to long-term bans for captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and batsman Cameron Bancroft, and led to the short-notice call-ups of Burns and Renshaw.
For South Africa, Du Plessis hit 120 with 18 fours and two sixes despite twice being hit on the right index finger, a digit he broke earlier in the season.
“That would have motivated him more,” teammate Elgar said. “Made him hungrier to stay out there and fight through the pain. That’s his character when he’s batting.”
Opening batsman Elgar was much less expansive as he ground out an ultra-patient 81 off 250 deliveries.
After du Plessis and Elgar were dismissed, Temba Bavuma (35) and Vernon Philander (33) piled on the agony for Australia with an unbeaten partnership of 71 for the seventh wicket.
Paceman Pat Cummins was the most productive bowler, taking 4-58 to finish with a career-best nine wickets in the match.
South Africa batted almost leisurely after starting the day on 134-3, and finally declared at tea. It seemed the home side was giving Morkel, playing his last test before retirement, a chance to recover from the left side strain. Kagiso Rabada was also carrying a lower back strain, and Vernon Philander had his groin strapped.
But all three bowled, and Morkel was the most effective.
His in-swinger trapped Renshaw lbw for 5 with the total on 21.
Usman Khawaja was then out for 7 after opting for a review when a ball from slow left-armer Keshav Maharaj pitched outside off stump. The batsman suggested he played a shot and the Australia No. 3 was unhappy to be sent packing.
Morkel claimed the third lbw of the innings to dismiss Burns for 42.
Peter Handscomb was 23 not out and Shaun Marsh undefeated on 7 at the close.


Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

Updated 21 March 2019
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Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

  • Former Saudi Arabia coach wants to guide the Whites to their first World Cup since 1990.
  • "If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here," Dutchman says of his new job.

LONDON: Bert van Marwijk has told the UAE he only has one thing on his mind: Getting the side to the 2022 World Cup. 

The former Saudi Arabia boss was unveiled as the new coach of the Whites before watching his new team beat his former team 2-1 in a friendly in Dubai (see right). While he was in the stand rather than the dugout — interim boss Saleem Abdelrahman took charge — he would have liked what he saw as he set himself the challenge of leading the UAE to their first showpiece since 1990. 

“I’m here for only one thing, and that’s to qualify for the World Cup,” the Dutchman said.  

“It takes a long time and the first thing we have to deal with is the first qualification round. That’s why I’m here.”

Van Marwijk was celebrated after he led the Green Falcons to last year's World Cup before calling it quits. (AFP) 

Van Marwijk guided Saudi Arabia to last year’s World Cup — the Green Falcons’ first appearance at the showpiece for 12 years — during a two-year stint which ended in September 2017.

That was one of the key reasons the UAE fought hard for the 66-year-old and while it is never easy getting through Asian qualifying — 46 teams going for just four direct slots at Qatar 2022 — the Dutchman claimed his experience, combined with his knowledge of the UAE, will stand him in good stead. 

“The Saudis and the UAE are about the same level. With the Saudis we qualified for Russia, so we will do really everything to go to Qatar in 2022,” Van Marwijk said. 

While he is fondly remembered in the Kingdom — only a contractual dispute regarding backroom staff meant he did not stay on as Green Falcons coach for the Russia tournament — it is his time as the Netherlands coach that really stands out on his managerial resume. Van Marwijk coached the Oranje to within minutes of the World Cup trophy, with only an Andres Iniesta extra-time winner preventing him from tasting ultimate glory against Spain in 2010. 

So why did he return to the Gulf for another crack at World Cup qualification in a tough, crowded race? 

“One of the reasons is the feeling. I have to have the right feeling when I sign a contract,” Van Marwijk said. “We analyzed the UAE, we played four times against each other with Saudi, so I can see the potential.

“I have had the experience to go to the World Cup twice. The first time we were second in the world, the second time was with Australia (which he coached last summer) and we were a little bit unlucky — we played very well. 

“So to go to the World Cup for the third time is the goal.”

Van Marwijk is all too aware his task will be difficult. The “Golden Generation” of Emirati footballers, spearheaded by Omar Abdulrahman, tried and failed to make it to football’s biggest tournament, and a lot of the next three years’ work will likely depend on a new generation.

“I heard there were some young talents, so I’m anxious to know how good they are,” the Dutchman said. “I know the team has a few very good players — the UAE has a few weapons. 

“That’s the most important thing. If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here.”