Morne Morkel
Morne Morkel

Frustrated South Africa bowling coach Allan Donald is ruing the brilliance of Michael Clarke and Ed Cowan after a wounded Australia climbed off the canvas on day four of the first Test at the Gabba.

The Proteas looked on course for an easy victory late on Sunday when Australia crumbled to 3-40 - but captain Clarke (218 not out) and opener Cowan (136) were the catalyst for a sensational baggy green revival.

Now Australia holds a 37-run lead after finishing up on day four at 4-487, having run the South African attack ragged for three extended sessions.

"You see Michael Clarke walking down the stairs last night at 40-3 and you think about being a little bit greedy, mentally. You think 'it could be 80-5 for 90-5 overnight'," Donald said.

"To be fair, they played well. I thought Australia rode that pressure really well and got through those stages.

"We started a little bit slowly this morning and then quickly got into our work. We created chances for long periods.

"I thought at one stage we could have had Michael Clarke caught a couple of times with some really good, telling deliveries that fell into spaces. The same with Ed Cowan."

Heartbreakingly for South Africa, left-hander Cowan was caught behind off Morne Morkel on 47 in the second-last over of play on Sunday - but it was a no-ball.

Donald admitted that moment was a 'big setback' for the Proteas.

By the end of day four, the no-balls started to pile up - there are 22 in total so far throughout Australia's batting innings.

"There's no excuses for that. We police that very hard at training," Donald said.

"It's not that we have to tell these guys, who are professional cricketers playing at the highest level, that they need to get their feet behind the line. It's something they know they're responsible for."

A flat Gabba wicket also hasn't helped South Africa's cause, according to Donald.

"This pitch really hasn't done anything off the seam. Not that you expect it from very good Test pitches, but if anything that was the surprise to me," he said.

"I don't know what the wicket's like here normally. I've watched the New Zealand game on TV here and there seems to be a bit more nip and carry and bounce and pace.

"I always thought that the biggest test for us here was the test of length, and mixing your pace.

"I've heard so much about the Gabba and the bounce and the pace, but you can only play on what you get.

"I walked out there straight after the day's play and I reckon after tomorrow, you could probably play another three days on it. It's that good (for batting). It looks really fantastic."


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