A Sense of Unreality

I didn't see the fall of the World Trade Center on 11th September 2001 as it happened, but people who did reported that doing so induced a sense of unreality. Many of them genuinely couldn't believe what they were seeing.

Today was a bit lke that. As I watched the Australian second innings wickets tumble in the kind of surreal freefall rarely seen away from the game's lower echelons, I briefly felt as though what I was seeing couldn't reallly be happening.

This was Australia.

Australia. The side, if not the players, who used to bestride the world, trampling all challengers underfoot.

And they were 21 for 9.

Precise reasons were hard to come by. There was some fine bowling, of course, and the pitch did its bit, but, as the cliche goes, 'it wasn't a 47 all out wicket'.

There were poor shots, from Hussey and Haddin in particular, but, more importantly, Australia, despite their fine showing in Sri Lanka, remain in an uneasy place. Watson now looks several places too high, Hughes, jumpy and staccato, still fails to convince, and Ponting may be facing the final curtain. Johnson just struggles on.

For all Clarke's class, the many qualities of Steyn, Morkel and the excellent newcomer Vernon Philander were always going to test their mettle to its limits.

They did, and they were found wanting. The game could go either way tomorrow but South Africa are favourites.

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