Sport

Greg Baum

Greg Baum is chief sports columnist and associate editor with The Age

Steeled again: Peter Handscomb and Nathan Lyon in the field on day three

Australia fortifies its edge

Cricket is a game of cosmic connections, or coincidences, as you will, of mysterious causes and effects. Shine will make a ball swing. But not always, and not predictably. Almost any substance will make it shine. Out-of-form players, who can least afford unplayables and shockers, cop them. If Richard Kettleborough says it's out, it is. If Aleem Dar says it's out, it's not.

Matt Renshaw and Usman Khawaja at Adelaide Oval on Friday.

As night falls, a light at last

S​uddenly, Australia could do no wrong, or not much. From consecutive balls in the middle of this day, Peter Handscomb scored the first of his 54 impressive debut runs and Usman Khawaja the 100th of his epic 138 not out, and both brought the Adelaide Oval crowd to their feet. Even Matt Renshaw's 10 had been worth a mini-ovation; it had defused the new ball's threat, forestalled another collapse and made all that followed possible. It was that sort of day.

Early wicket: Fast bowler Josh Hazlewood combined with Australian debutant Matt Renshaw to claim the wicket of South ...

The caps fit; now for the careers

Between overs, Matt Renshaw dashed hither and thither from his first slip eyrie, ferrying caps for bowlers, delivering compliments and encouragements. If a thick edge had to be retrieved from boundary rope, off he obligingly went, but perhaps resisting the urge to sprint, for this was Test cricket, after all.

Faf du Plessis caught polishing the ball with minty saliva.

Sugar and spice flavour the third Test

It's been a sour week for sugar. First, multi-media identity Peter Fitzsimons released The Great Aussie Bloke Slim-down, a book detailing how he made himself half the man he was by giving up sugar  and alcohol. Sugar, we get. Then the Grattan institute proposed a tax on sugary drinks, as way to reduce obesity and/or raise revenue. All the while, Faf du Plessis was giving mint confectionary  and its agency to a cricket ball a bad press, made worse by his refusal to say anything about it.

Test newcomers Matthew Renshaw and Chadd Sayers.

That selection was fun. Now what?

When Trevor Hohns awoke, his head was throbbing. Groaning, he hauled himself into the sitting position. Bit by bit, the room came into focus. Paper was strewn everywhere, crumpled and torn. A whiteboard in one corner was covered in thick red crosses and lines, also something that trickled. Underneath it, sitting on top of a pile of pizza boxes, was an Under 19 tour handbook and a sheaf of cricinfo print-outs.

Australian all-rounder Mitch Marsh is not making an impact.

All round, it doesn't add up

It's all Shane Warne's fault. Or Warne's and Glenn McGrath's together. It's Adam Gilchrist's fault. Jacques Kallis is to blame and so is Andrew Flintoff.