Australian captain Pat Cummins has reflected on a “special” victory during the Boxing Day Test which was played against the backdrop of a celebration of the late, great Shane Warne’s life at the MCG.
“Boxing Day is always a huge event, and this year was even more special celebrating Warnie,” Cummins said after his side had steamrolled South Africa by an innings and 182 runs to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
Mitchell Starc & David Warner spearhead gutsy Aussie triumph
The one-sided win was sparked by a starring role from player-of-the-match David Warner whose double century during his 100th Test more than justified Cummins’ decision to once again elect to bowl first.
MORE: Josh Hazlewood declares himself fit to play but will he be selected for SCG Test?
“South Africa have had some wonderful contests over the years – I don’t think we’ve won a series in 20 years on home soil,” the skipper remarked.
“That’s sweet, and I’m super proud of how we gutsed it out at times and how the boys played.”
The Proteas resumed at 1/15 after Dean Elgar had been dismissed by Cummins – who finished with figures of 1/20 and bowled eight maidens in his 16 overs – late on day three when bad weather seemed to be the only thing capable of halting the host’s momentum.
Despite suffering a finger injury, which will likely sideline him for the foreseeable future, Mitchell Starc powered through 18 overs and claimed the crucial first wicket of the day when he trapped Sarel Erwee lbw. From there, the wickets fell at regular intervals.
AUSTRALIA GET A BREAK THROUGH. What a review!
— Fox Cricket (@FoxCricket) December 28, 2022
Meanwhile, Cameron Green was unable to take the red ball at all in the second innings after also injuring a finger following his five-wicket haul as the visitor’s 189 on the opening day proved to be decisive.
“Hopefully we did a lot of Aussies proud,” Cummins said. “So many great performances from the team.”
‘Inexperience’ costing South Africa following another batting collapse
The Proteas were finally able to snap seven consecutive innings of failing to reach the 200-run mark, yet their fragile batting line-up was exposed for the umpteenth time throughout a miserable tour.
“Call a spade a spade, the inexperience is killing us, especially with the bat in hand,” Elgar stated post-match.
“You’ve got to hit reality on the head as well. We’ve lost a lot of batters the last few years. I think that’s got a role to play.
“But in saying that, there’s opportunities for guys to come in and play and make spots their own. Unfortunately, that inexperience at this level is really hurting us at the moment.”
Temba Bavuma offered the most resistance with his 65-run knock. Although he also directly contributed to two Aussie wickets through terrible communication and running between the wickets.
“An absolute disaster for South Africa”
Aussies with ANOTHER run out 🤯
— Fox Cricket (@FoxCricket) December 29, 2022
He was the chief architect of two shambolic run outs with Khaya Zondo dismissed for one, before Keshav Maharaj was the final victim when a mix up whilst running a three resulted in a direct hit from Starc.
“Absolute disaster for South Africa,” Mark Waugh exclaimed on Fox Cricket. “That sums up the first two Test matches for them.
“Have a look at the way he turned Bavuma, he turned with his back to the fieldsman and then changed over hands. Amateur hour.”
Pat Cummins’ impressive run continues as Aussie captain
The thumping victory is Australia’s largest since battering the West Indies by an innings and 212 runs seven years ago.
However, remarkably, it only ranks as South Africa’s second worst this year after also copping an innings and 276-run hiding from New Zealand in February.
Cummins reinforced how the whole side had dug deep during the blazing heat of day two and battled through various injury setbacks to deliver the massive win.
MORE: South African bowler Anrich Nortje hit by flying camera during Boxing Day Test
Part-time leg-spinner Steve Smith collected the game-winning wicket when he deceived Lungi Ngidi with a well-flighted delivery that crashed into off stump.
STEVE SMITH WITH THE FINAL WICKET!
— Fox Cricket (@FoxCricket) December 29, 2022
The victory means Cummins has still yet to taste a Test series defeat as national skipper. In fact, he has lost just one Test since taking the reins a little over a year ago.
In that time, he guided Australia to a thumping Ashes win on home soil, while also securing a historic series win in Pakistan.
The Aussies have emerged victorious over India to retain the Warne-Muralitharan Trophy, before making easy work of both the West Indies and South Africa this summer.
“Hopefully he is watching somewhere, proud,” the jubilant captain said of Warne as the chances of a clean sweep at the SCG against their old adversaries now looms large.