Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne were involved in some brilliant by-play on Thursday during the Boxing Day Test after a miscommunication in the slips. Theunis de Bruyn nicked a Scott Boland delivery straight to Smith at second slip, who had to contend with a bizarre distraction from Labuschagne.
Standing at third slip, Labuschagne stuck out his hand in a split-second attempt to take the catch, before realising it was going straight to his teammate Smith. Labuschagne took his hand away at the last minute, and luckily for him Smith still managed to complete the catch.
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Smith looked at Labuschagne in disbelief as Marnus realised his mistake, apologising to his teammate straight away. Smith could be seen shaking his head and shooting daggers at Labuschagne, obviously peeved at his slips partner's actions.
One commentator said Labuschagne was too close to Smith and needed to go wider. "He is hungry for the ball all the time Marnus. He has great confidence in Steve Smith - one of the great catchers in the game," the commentator said on Channel 7.
"Maybe push another foot wider. Marnus wants it, he is hungry for it. It is going straight to Steve Smith's right hip. Marnus, if he was a foot wider it would have been more simple."
But things took a twist just minutes later when commentators noticed that Labuschagne was no longer fielding in the slips. Marnus had been banished to the gully, with Usman Khawaja taking his place at third slip.
"(Smith) has gone 'you're out'," one commentator said. "I wonder if it is just a little suspension? I reckon he's said 'I've had enough of you. You're out. 'Uz', you're in'.
"No-one is talking to Marnus either. He is opening up and looking for a bit of encouragement, Usman is closing him off. He is practicing his leggies. He's been sent to Siberia."
Aussies cash in on South Africa mistakes at MCG
The de Bruyn dismissal was one of the three wickets the Aussies snared in the morning session on Thursday. Mitchell Starc trapped Saral Erwee for 21 before de Bruyn was sent packing for 28.
Things then took a horrible turn for the visitors after Khaya Zondo was runout for just 1 in diabolical scenes. Desperate to rotate the strike after a number of dot balls, Temba Bavuma took off for a quick single that wasn't there and left Zondo short of his ground.
However commentators were highly critical of Zondo's lack of effort after he gave up well before the ball hit the stumps. Zondo also didn't bother to slide his bat or dive to make his ground.
"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."
Mark Waugh said on Fox Sports: “That’s a terrible run. It really is. There was half a single in it and Zondo had given up. I think that probably sums up their tour so far. Just mistake after mistake ... There’s just no energy or game awareness.”
Zondo's runout came after Starc had blasted de Bruyn for leaving his crease early on two occasions. Ricky Ponting suggested on Channel 7 that Starc's warning may have contributed to Zondo being on his heels and not ready to run.
South Africa stumbled to 4-120 at lunch, with Bavuma and wicket-keeper Kyle Verreynne offering some resistance. However they lost their last six wickets in quick succession to be all out for 204, suffering an innings and 182-run loss to hand Australia an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
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