Coming into day four still more than a hundred behind South Africa’s first innings total, the first thing Australia would have wanted to do was to make the Proteas bat again. But persistence and patience from the Proteas pacers at Hobart meant the hosts were staring down the barrel of an innings defeat at home after Adam Voges and Callum Ferguson were dismissed in quick succession.
On a pitch that has offered plenty of assistance to the seamers, Australia knew that they had to bat time and put away the bad balls. But what they possibly couldn’t have foreseen was the choice of shots by two players at the opposite ends of the international experience spectrum.
After Usman Khawaja was dismissed early on day four, with Australia still more than 100 in arrears, Australia needed Adam Voges, the batsmen with the best Test average in the current squad and with plenty of experience of playing in swinging, seaming conditions in England to stand up.
Instead, Voges’ misjudgement not only gave South Africa a crack at Australia’s brittle lower middle-order but also put the 37-year-old batsman’s Test future in doubt after scores of 1, 0, 2 in his last three Test innings. Coming into the crease after the fall of Khawaja, Voges needed to perform not only to keep Australia in the game but also secure his place in the side.
But the first ball of Kyle Abbott’s 20th over of the innings, Voges misjudged the length of the ball, opted to go for a pull shot and then pulled out of it and eventually ended up guiding the ball to JP Duminy at Gully. Not only was it terrible judgement from a player with nearly 200 first-class matches under his belt but also signalled the lack of confidence despite average well in excess of 50 in Tests.
To a ball that wasn’t especially short, Voges pressed forward and couldn’t decide whether to pull or leave and ended up leaving his bat hanging at an angle and the ball ended up taking the middle of the bat and he had to depart having scored just 2 runs off 17 balls.
You can check out the comical way in which Voges was dismissed here.
Not too long after Voges was dismissed, debutant Callum Ferguson followed him back to the pavilion with another similar moment of indecision. The 31-year-old, who has played 100 first-class matches was dismissed by Kagiso Rabada as he, like Voges, was caught in two minds.
If the ball bowled to Voges wasn’t short, this was more of a back of a length delivery that was swinging back in, but Ferguson decided to perform a hybrid action of ducking and swaying as he just went down but not long after, the ball brushed his glove and lobbed up to Dean Elgar at third slip.
Elgar did no mistake this time as the 31-year-old debutant’s decision to duck and half-sway from a back of a length ball swinging in and outside off ended up sending him back after scoring just four runs on his Test debut.