Australia v South Africa: first Test, day one – live

Key events

6th over: South Africa 13-1 (Erwee 1, van der Dussen 0) A brute from Cummins! First really good delivery of the innings, it spits off a length and zips past the outside edge as Erwee responds with a movement that is more flinch than stroke. Four balls into the over, Erwee gets forward and pushes a single to cover, finally off the mark.

5th over: South Africa 12-1 (Erwee 0, van der Dussen 0) Success for Starc to start the over outside the left-hander’s leg stump, then he repeatedly hangs the ball way outside the right-hander’s off stump after Rassie van der Dussen comes in. Doesn’t make him play.

WICKET! Elgar c Carey b Starc 3, South Africa 12-1

Ohhh, trouble for the visitors. That’s the shot that looked risky in Starc’s previous over, when Elgar poked down the leg side away from his body. He does the same this time, reaching for that line, off balance trying to catch up to the ball, and only succeeds in touching it through to the wicketkeeper.

4th over: South Africa 12-0 (Elgar 3, Erwee 0) A maiden from Cummins to Erwee, with the bowler getting the radar back on.

3rd over: South Africa 12-0 (Elgar 3, Erwee 0) There’s a half-hearted invocation of the third umpire to start the over, as Elgar squeezes a bump ball from the toe of his bat into the ground and then to slip. The Australians appeal so the umpires have to have a look, though the soft signal is not out. Elgar misses a prod down the leg side, then presses a couple of runs through cover point off the front foot. Runs off the bat add to their tally of… one.

2nd over: South Africa 10-0 (Elgar 1, Erwee 0) Pat Cummins with the new ball, something that doesn’t always happen when Hazlewood is in the side, and he’s off-line to Erwee to begin with. It flicks the thigh pad and runs away for four leg byes. Second ball? Same result! Back of a length and angling down from a right-arm line around the wicket.

Erwee stands upright in his stance, high backlift, and after those false starts Cummins gets the line right, the right-hander leaving and defending the rest of the over. Nine runs out of ten for extras so far.

1st over: South Africa 2-0 (Elgar 1, Erwee 0) We’re away, with Mitchell Starc from the Vulture Street end, and Elgar shifts across his crease to stab the ball away from just outside off stump. Less dramatic than Starc’s first ball of last year’s Test, the one that destroyed Rory Burns’ off stump.

So much for South Africa rests on Elgar getting them through the early overs. He blocks the next ball, then knocks a single to fine leg. Erwee is another left-hander, and he gets a short enough length to knock the ball off his hip, saved at midwicket by Head. Only from the final ball does Starc throw in that full swinging delivery, and it takes out Erwee’s leg. Knocks him over completely, after pitching outside the line of leg stump, and he gets a leg bye.

The skies have changed quickly this morning. Blue when I arrived, overcast when Cummins won the toss, now the sun is breaking through again. Things move fast in the tropics.

The national anthems round out the formalities. Both teams on the field, as per tradition, with large flags held parallel to the ground behind them. The reserve players and support staff ring the boundary, standing to attention with hands behind their backs as they have done for the duration.

The Welcome to Country is performed by Aunty Deb Sandy of the Yuggerah people, who asks everyone in the crowd to call out their names so that she can welcome them properly. A nice addition that I haven’t seen before. She also sends out condolences to the Wieambilla victims.

The ceremonial proceedings are about to get underway. There’s a ground-wide round of applause as a tribute to the two police officers who were killed not far from Brisbane earlier this week. It goes on over James Sherry’s attempts to resume speaking. There are representatives of the forces on the ground with him, and a minute’s silence follows as people remove their hats in a poignantly old-fashioned gesture.


As expected. South Africa go with the keeper at six and five bowlers, the first three of whom can bat decently. Australia go as unchanged as possible, with only Cummins returning for Michael Neser, and Boland retaining his position as first option off the bench.

South Africa
Dean Elgar *
Sarel Erwee
Rassie van der Dussen
Temba Bavuma
Khaya Zondo
Kyle Verreynne +
Marco Jansen
Keshav Maharaj
Kagiso Rabada
Anrich Nortje
Lungi Ngidi

David Warner
Usman Khawaja
Marnus Labuschagne
Steven Smith
Travis Head
Cameron Green
Alex Carey +
Pat Cummins *
Mitchell Starc
Nathan Lyon
Scott Boland

Australia win the toss and bowl

Innnteresting! Cummins must be thinking of putting England under the cosh on the opening morning last year. The pitch is very green, but it often is at the Gabba without providing much meaningful assistance. Still, SA have a sketchy batting line-up so maybe Australia can make inroads anyway. Batting second is historically not an impediment at the Gabba.

If you want a preview of today’s match and the series to come, here’s one I prepared earlier.

Green track, bit of cloud… intriguing call at the toss for whoever wins. The last visiting captain to win the toss, bowl first and win a Test at the Gabba was NZ’s Jeremy Coney back in 1985… #AUSvSA

— Louis Cameron (@LouisDBCameron) December 16, 2022

What’s happening in the middle? The South Africans have just finished an all-in game of some variety of volleyball, and now they’re doing ground fielding drills, running in to pick up balls being pinged at them along the turf. The Australians are more spread out: Smith and Khawaja doing slip catching, Starc and Green going through their run-ups, players throwing medicine balls or chatting to commentators. Mark Nicholas is back out on an Australian Test ground after those years with Nine, must be doing commentary for SuperSport I’m guessing. Pat Cummins has just left the field to get changed for the toss.

My name is Geoff, I’m at the ground keeping my eyes open for anything interesting. You can get in touch by emailing [email protected], or (while it lasts) on Twitter at @GeoffLemonSport.


Geoff Lemon

Good morning from Brisbane. The sun is shining, the palms are swaying, the sky is paradise blue. It is a million miles away from the lead-up to the Ashes Test a year ago, when it rained Biblically for two weeks straight and I was starting to pair off lemurs and marmosets just in case. It is also very mild for Brisbane, which in summer usually has the heat and overwhelming humid of an armpit. I’ am not a meteorologist, but presumably the cool summer system that has made the southern states into a frigid hellscape for the past few weeks has also had a gentling effect on the north, because nothing all week is forecast to get above the high 20s in temperature, and the humidity is relatively low.

That is the setting of the scene, if you’re watching along on television or reading along while doing other things, and wanting to know what the players are feeling. Which players? Those of Australia and South Africa, one of the strong rivalries in the small world of Test cricket, in their first series since the sandpaper business in 2018. Nobody remembers that, surely? It’s not like it has been in the news ever since.

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