Standard Bank Proteas top order, driven by an 11th career century by Dean Elgar, had established on the opening day of the third Sunfoil Test match at PPC Newlands on Thursday.
The Proteas, having won the toss on a good batting surface and a fast outfield that rewarded strokeplay, had passed 200 for the loss of only 2 wickets as Elgar and Hashim Amla (31 off 87 balls, 3 fours) put on 86 for the second wicket and Elgar and AB de Villiers (64 off 95 balls, 10 fours) a further 128 for the third.
They enabled the Proteas to dominate the first two sessions, putting on 75/1 before lunch and an impressive 110/1 between lunch and tea.
Elgar’s century second against Australia took his career total past the 3 000-run mark and also gave him an impressive 50 percent conversion rate as he now has 11 centuries and the same number of half-centuries.
But Cummins turned the innings on its head when he replaced Josh Hazlewood, who had been Australia’s most impressive bowler up to that stage, at the Wynberg end. He bowled 8 consecutive overs of sustained pace and pressure (2 maidens among them) to return the outstanding figures of 4/13.
He got rid of De Villiers to a lofted off-drive to the fifth ball of his spell and then Faf du Plessis, Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock all followed back to the pavilion in quick succession.
Mitchell Marsh then took over from Cummins to dismiss the last specialist batting partner for Elgar in Vernon Philander as Australia completed a big session in which they had taken 6 wickets while conceding only 81 runs.
Elgar batted through to the close for an unbeaten 121 (253 balls, 17 fours and a six) and has the opportunity to carry his bat for the second time this year with Kagiso Rabada currently at the crease and only Morne Morkel to follow.
Just how much their total of 266/8 is worth remains to be seen until Australia have batted but one feels it is well short of what the Proteas had in mind at the tea interval.
These two teams will meet again 30 March, 10:00am at Wanderers Stadium Johannesburg.