Adelaide: Actions speak louder than words for South Africa's world number one test team and the players needed little encouragement to turn around their fortunes on day two of the second test against Australia, according to paceman Morne Morkel. Spanked for 482 runs on day one, South Africa rattled through Australia's last five wickets prior to lunch before captain Graeme Smith struck a patient century to drive the tourists to 217-2 at Adelaide Oval by Friday's close.
Morkel symbolised the South African grit, capturing three wickets in the morning as the hosts were dismissed for 550 and the paceman notched his first five-wicket haul against Australia after being punished by their batsmen a day earlier. Among his wickets was Michael Clarke, who he bowled for 230, less than 24 hours after the Australian captain blasted him for five boundaries in an over to bring up his 150th run.
"We're a team that realised and knew what was needed to be done," Morkel told reporters. "The time for talking was over so we needed to react and we needed to step up and pull up our socks. "I know it wasn't our best performance yesterday but it was also a performance we needed to put to bed. "This team always finds a way to fight back and I think in a way you can never count us out and we'll fight hard for the next few days and hopefully we can go well."
While opener Alviro Petersen and number three Hashim Amla lost their wickets cheaply, Smith defied the Australian bowlers throughout the heat of the day to give the Proteas renewed hope. Rather than blaze away in a feisty counter-attack, Smith built the South African total at a patient three runs an over to leave the eight Australian bowlers thrown into the attack frustrated.
"He's one of the best captains I've ever played with," Morkel said. "The amount of passion and pride he's got for this country and the way he's leading - a lot of the people don't see what's happening in the changing room, behind the scenes. "We needed a guy up front to be solid and he's still there... I hope tomorrow can be a really big day for him." South Africa's hopes may also hinge on the batting of another bulky stalwart in Jacques Kallis, despite the all-rounder straining a hamstring on day one.
Jacques Rudolph came in at number four in Kallis's usual spot and did his part with 25 not out to give the 37-year-old time to recuperate. "Luckily he had a day's rest now," said Morkel, who backed his team mate to be up for the task. "Jacques is an unbelievable leader for the team and if we need it, he'll step up. "If he's 40-50 percent fit, he's a really tough guy and he'll bite the bullet for us."