Cricket fans and commentators have shredded South Africa over a farcical runout on day four of the Boxing Day Test. Resuming at 1-15 at the MCG on Thursday, Saral Erwee and Theunis de Bruyn made a bright start in moving the score to 1-47.
However things quickly went wrong for the Proteas as Mitchell Starc trapped Erwee lbw before de Bruyn nicked a Scott Boland delivery to Steve Smith at second slip. But things got really ugly for the visitors when Khaya Zondo was run out in calamitous fashion for 1.
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Zondo was slow off the mark after Temba Bavuma called him through for a quick single and quickly realised he was no chance of making his ground. Travis Head picked up the ball one-handed and produced a perfect underarm throw to find Zondo short of his ground.
Many believed there was never a run there, but Zondo came under heavy fire for giving up. The South African batter stopped running hard when Head picked up the ball and didn't even slide his bat into the crease, let alone dive.
"I tell you what Zondo just gave up, which is the cardinal sin," Greg Blewett said on Channel 7. "You have to do everything you can to make your crease.
"Now, whether he would have made it or not is a different story, but well done to the Australians. But I tell you what, if Zondo had have sprinted he would have given himself a better chance."
Fellow commentator James Brayshaw added: "Also dive for the line. You know, try and keep yourself in the game." Blewett said: "He gave up, he actually gave up right there he just thinks 'no, I'm not going to make it anyway.' But it wasn't actually a powerful underarm throw from Travis Head."
Over on Fox Sports, Mark Waugh was equally as critical. “That’s a terrible run. It really is. There was half a single in it and Zondo had given up,” he said.
“I think that probably sums up their tour so far. Just mistake after mistake ... There’s just no energy or game awareness.”
Fans on social media described the runout as 'horrible' and 'awful'.
Mitchell Starc blasts South African batter in 'Mankad' storm
De Bruyn's dismissal came after he was blasted by Starc for leaving his crease early at the non-striker's end. Starc noticed the South African batter was leaving his ground way too early and pulled out of his delivery stride at one point.
After de Bruyn did it a second time, Starc let rip. "Just stay in your crease, it's not that hard," he spat. "The line is there for a reason mate."
Speaking to Fox Sports during a drinks break, Starc said: "He was halfway down Punt Road I think. I was just letting him know that if I have to keep my foot behind the line he can stay in his crease."
Cricket fans and commentators were left divided by Starc's actions, with some suggesting he should have affected the runout rather than warning de Bruyn. The ICC recently moved to legitimise the dismissal after decades of controversy.
"I don't think he (de Bruyn) was trying to gain an advantage," Damien Fleming said on Channel 7. "He just wasn't paying attention."
Ricky Ponting later suggested Starc's actions may have caused Zondo to be on his heels before his runout. The calamity didn't get much better for South Africa after they were bowled out for 204, suffering an innings and 182-run loss to hand the series to Australia.
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