Sydney: Australia"s cricket coach Tim Nielsen has called it the stuff of nightmares, after South African young batting prodigy J.P. Duminy steered his team to a 61 runs lead on the third day of the Boxing Day Test.
Duminy transformed Australia"s overnight lead into an alarming deficit, as one of the most exciting young batsmen in the world, but also inflicted on Ricky Ponting, his team and the selectors a national crisis, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
“It is something your worst nightmares couldn"t come up with. It didn"t go to plan but I suppose that"s the way the whole series has gone so far," Nielsen said.
It was the debacle unfolding around Duminy"s nerveless 166 in his second Test that defined proceedings at the MCG.
Meanwhile, vice captain Ckarke said: “It"s definitely one of our most disappointing days for a long time in Test cricket," admitting that the Australians ran out of ideas as they struggled against the Proteas" tail.
“In saying that it is another example of how quickly things can change in Test cricket. We"ve got a big day tomorrow. We"re going to have to come out and bat really well and then we"ll wait and see what happens. I still believe if we bat well tomorrow we can get ourselves into a position to win this Test match," he added.
South Africa began the day 196 runs behind, but Australia"s advantage was eroded by Duminy"s partnerships with tailenders Paul Harris and Dale Steyn, the latter developing into the third-highest ninth-wicket partnership of all time.
But Clarke and Nielsen said that all was not lost.
“If we can bat well tomorrow the game is very much on for both sides and it"s there for the taking," Nielsen said.
Clarke added: “We"ve just got to play positive, aggressive cricket. That is how Australia has been successful for a long, long time."