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Australia left with urgent questions
Steve Larkin
06:12 AEST Tue Nov 27 2012

Depending where you were born, not winning can't get more agonising, or glorious, than that.

South Africa's steel to steal a draw in the second Test against Australia will, rightly, be hailed as momentous.

And it left Australian cricket with some serious questions that need answering, and soon.

Not least, what to do with Ricky Ponting?

Is Shane Watson fit to replace Rob `quack quack' Quiney?

Who will come to rescue if Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey fail?

Is Mitchell Starc's left arm the right thing to replace injury-cursed quick James Pattinson?

Was Matthew Wade's shaky glove-work just a blip?

Will spinner Nathan Lyon ever be more than an honest toiler?

Can paceman Pete Siddle recover in time for Perth?

Things, surely, won't go so wrong for the tourists in the third bout in Perth, for the heavyweight championship of the world.

South African superman Jacques Kallis won't tear his hamstring in the first hour and legspinner Imran Tahir won't get smacked for world-worst Test figures. Kallis won't, and Imran shouldn't, play in Perth.

The Proteas won't lose their world's second-ranked bowler, Vernon Philander, to a back injury on the morning of the game.

And surely the South Africans won't lose their composure as readily, and bowl as badly, as they did in the home side's first innings in Adelaide.

But back to Australia.

Ponting admits his gloried Test career hangs by a thread after 20 runs in three digs this series.

Without runs in Perth, one of the most brilliant and enduring Test careers could end.

Meantime, Quiney and his pair of Adelaide ducks appear destined to become a future Test trivia answer: who was the Australian batsman who only played three Test innings, and didn't score in two of them?

The woes of Quiney and Ponting put an unhealthy reliance on Clarke and Hussey, who have made three substantial partnerships at substantial pace this series.

In the Brisbane draw, the dynamic duo put on 228, scoring at 5.01 an over.

In the Adelaide draw, they put on 272 at 5.49 an over in the first innings and, on a wearing pitch in the second innings, a steadying 70 at 4.07 an over.

Their feats helped protect wicketkeeper-batsman Wade, hailed for his batting but this series yet to play an innings of note - and notably, being unsure with the gloves.

Wade botched a first innings stumping when Proteas skipper Graeme Smith was 46. He made 122.

Wade also dropped Faf du Plessis before tea on the last day. More than two hours later, he walked from the field a drawn hero, unbeaten on 110.

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