Australia Dominate Day 1
Australia are in a commanding position at the WACA after Day 1 having surged to 0/101 in reply to South Africa's underwhelming 242, after the tourists won the toss and elected to bat. David Warner's brilliant 73 not out left South Africa reeling at stumps with a brittle lead being whittled down to 139, all 10 Australian wickets still in the shed, and a wicket that is likely to be best for batting on Day 2 and Day 3. Australia's pace spearheads Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood went a long way to dispelling doubts about their fitness heading into the game by taking 4 and 3 wickets respectively. Only a middle order fightback - a classy 84 from talented wicket-keeper batsman Quinton De Kock and a fighting half century to Temba Bavuma - spared the tourists from a complete disaster on Day 1. On a lively but flattish batting wicket, South Africa were left reeling at 4/32 on an opening morning full of fraught batting and controlled and disciplined fast bowling from Starc, Hazlewood and Siddle.
De Kock Looks a Serious Player
I would be surprised if Quinton De Kock is still batting at the lowly spot of Number 7 in the near future for South Africa. He looked a class above a few of his comrades on Day 1 as he cruised his way to 84 before succumbing as wickets fell around him . While De Kock fell in a soft manner, he was forced into some desperate batting given he was running out of partners. And while he failed to match his best Test score of 128 n/o, it was probably the most important knock of his young Test career. Against an Australian attack containing considerable bite and menace, De Kock scored freely off front and back foot and looked to have plenty of time to play his shots on a lively wicket. The 23 year old gloveman is a classy left hand batsman who plays in a fearless and aggressive manner. It has always been just a matter of time before De Kock cemented his spot in the Test side after, at just 21 years of age, setting the record for the most consecutive centuries for an ODI player with three in a row. Go back just over a month and De Kock was in his element playing a stunning 178 against an admittedly watered down Australian attack in the recent ODI series. De Kock is already a formidable ODI player with 11 hundreds in 69 ODI games as an opening batsman, at the impressive average of 43 and strike rate of 94.
Frazzled Batting Display from South Africa's Top and Lower Order
Whilst you have to give credit to the hosts for their discipline and controlled display with the ball, there were a few really poor moments of cricket from the tourists. Skipper Faf Du Plessis looked in fine touch heading into lunch on 37 n/o. Having known Mitchell Starc's propensity to take wickets in his first over, it was perplexing then to see him attempt a wild and woolly back foot slash, only to edge straight to slip and the safe hands of the Australian captain. Starc is most dangerous in his first few overs and it seemed an odd time to play such a cavalier shot. Whilst Vernon Philander is not in the same class a player as Du Plessis, his shot was equally disappointing. Having nearly seen off a lively spell from Starc, he and Quinton De Kock were just a few balls away from heading off to the tea interval with some momentum. However Philander played what appeared to be a premeditated pull shot against one of the quickest bowlers in the world. Debutant Keshav Maharaj, would have been nervous but had done a good job to reach 19, having built another promising little partnership with De Kock. However, to hit Nathan Lyon straight down Long On's throat was a dumb shot when his main job should have been to support De Kock. De Kock looked to be in full control and well on track for a hundred, however a couple of soft shots from Philander and Maharaj showed a lack of game sense. De Kock had every right to be a little disappointed with the pair.