Will South Africa's Test Cricket Breakthrough Come?

 By: Amelia Stenson
Pundits may argue that South Africa's test cricket breakthrough has already been realised with an historic series win over the Australians in their own back yard. However, if we are talking ICC ranking, then the South Africans may have to wait a tad longer before they can claim the crown of test cricket.

The battle lines have been drawn

The battle lines have been firmly etched into the rich, fertile African soil with Graeme Smith's men returning from Oz with the coveted scalp of the omnipotent baggy greens but nothing is ever a done deal in the world of sport, especially not between two such traditionally competitive sides.

Although Ricky Ponting's men were smeared with the unenviable title of "underdog" upon their arrival on the Dark Continent, they have been anything but. With a pugnacious but sublimely elegant batsman at the helm and an entire harem of young bloods fighting for a place on the side of the most successful cricket team in history, the Australians have fought back - and hard.

New referral system unkind to Smith and Co

Not even the brand new referral system has been kind to Smith and his obviously undercooked mob. Although it may be safe to say that many of the referrals sent up to the TV umpire by the current number two in world cricket were based on raw emotion rather than on concrete fact, there were many rather surprising decisions taken by the third umpire that have resulted in negative decisions for the hosts.

Armchair critics have been quick to voice their disapproval of a system that has been rather unkind to the home side, but any sports information system that can assist in erasing or minimising poor umpiring decisions can only be a good thing for the future of test cricket.

Smith, who has had his hand fractured by the same opponents for a second time in as many months, will spend the rest of the series nursing his wounds in the dressing room and, without the smouldering leviathan at the forefront of the Protea assault, there is growing doubt that the South Africans will be able to lift themselves from a distinctly dastardly display to date.

Only an attack by bat and ball will decide an outcome

At the end of the day, it isn't the 3D cricket ball tracking, the "hotspot" on the bat or the startled lines of the "snickometer" that decides a cricket test. It is the unfaltering attack by both bat and ball that claims a test victory; a victory often likened to a battle of attrition in the trenches.

Any team or individual that is elevated to the top spot in world sport for any length of time has to be the best and, sadly, the Proteas' winning ways in Australia may well have been the exception rather than the rule.
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