Welcome to our blog for day four of the Boxing Day Test.
Australia starts the day in a commanding position, leading by 371 runs against a South African batting line-up which has not reached 200 in its last seven Test innings.
But Pat Cummins faces a task to manage his bowlers with Cam Green unavailable and Mitch Starc battling through injury.
How long can the Proteas last? Follow to find out.
Pat Cummins has the ball in hand with Erwee and de Bruyn to resume for South Africa. Can they thwart the Aussies in this first session?
9.55AM DAY FOUR PREVIEW
9.50AM HAZLEWOOD FIT FOR SYDNEY
Josh Hazlewood has declared himself fit for selection for the SCG Test.
The paceman withdrew from contention for the Boxing Day Test as he continued his recovery from injury.
“At this stage I am. A few more overs to bowl during this game out in the nets. I had a good hit out two days ago and the signs are good and feel ready and fit,” Hazlewood said on SEN.
Hazlewood said he would have been confident of playing in Melbourne if his workload was 30 overs or less.
But the Australians did not take the risk and it proved a shrewd call with Cameron Green fracturing his finger and Mitch Starc injured while fielding.
CAREY PROVES AUSSIES MUST CHALLENGE CONVENTION
Australia has this year taught us to be careful about what we believe in cricket and it’s time to challenge convention once more.
With Cameron Green poised to miss the Sydney Test, Australia should be cavalier in a likely dead rubber and promote MCG century-maker Alex Carey to No 6 to allow it to have a look at a second spinner.
Australia has never liked making this move.
But let’s remind you that Australia also had a 144-year theory that fast bowlers don’t make Test captains. And that you should always bat first in a Test match.
Both of these maxims have been up-ended this year and there is major upside in clearing the decks to play an expanded bowling attack in Sydney.
Australia needs to get up and running for India and while Sydney is the most overrated spinners decks in cricket, curator Adam Lewis has declared it will take turn.
So it should.
With Australia heading to India for four Tests on dusty decks the more Sydney turns the better.
If it breaks apart, turns square and starts embarrassing batsmen, happy days.
Historically Australia has always loathed shifting the keeper in the batting order. Even when the great Adam Gilchrist was in full sail as a batsman Australia liked to leave him at seven even though he made a staggering 17 Test centuries.
But if Green’s broken finger keeps him out of any part of the Indian tour Australia will need to play five bowlers and Carey at No. 6 is a gamble worth making, if indeed it is a gamble at all.
Carey has a classy Test average of 39 after 13 games.
That’s good enough to bat at six.
Of more relevance is the fact he will finish the year with an average of 48 for his 11 Tests in 2022.
As he displayed at the MCG he is a cool cat with plenty of shots and a willingness to play them.
If you did go with Carey at No 6 you could go with two all-rounders of sorts beneath him such as left-arm spinner Ashton Agar and Michael Neser before captain Pat Cummins and one of Lance Morris, Josh Hazlewood and Scott Boland (if Mitchell Starc is out) plus Nathan Lyon.
The two other spinners in strong contention with Agar are Mitchell Swepson and Victoria’s uncapped off-spinner Todd Murphy.
It would be a surprise if Australia chose a second off-spinner to accompany Lyon – a left-armer or a leg-spinner would provide variety – but nothing is off the table.
Australia continued to dominate the series at the MCG.
One old saying that did have merit was one time mantra of the great West Indian sides who toured Australia – take down the captain, take down the team.
South African captain Dean Elgar, caught down the leg side for a duck, is having a stinker of a tour.
He looked poor in the nets before the game and abandoned a net session to have throwdowns because he was hitting the ball so badly.
At press conferences Elgar comes across with an air on combative defiance.
Previous captains Faf du Plessis and Graeme Smith did as well – but they backed up their words with actions.
Originally published as Australia v South Africa: Follow all the day four action from the MCG
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