Losers a lot, but South Africa was less than happy after it rained on day three of the Sydney Test

In the end, the rain won. All three days of the third and final Test between Australia and South Africa were swept away, with play abandoned shortly before 4pm after the rain finally stopped but left the ground too wet to dry out in time.

With Australia still in the first half of the match at 475-4, defeat narrowed their chances of forcing a win to cap the series, although a draw would still be enough for them to qualify for the World Test Championship final in June.

Amazingly, that doesn't wipe out the McGrath Foundation, the breast cancer charity that has turned its third day in Sydney into Pink Day as the centerpiece of its annual fundraising drive. A few years ago when foundations primarily solicited donations through volunteering at games, Pink Day laundering would have meant greatly reduced returns. But the pandemic concept of selling "virtual seats" in imaginary stadiums has continued and worked, and this year saved the day. More than 25,000 were sold to add more than $500,000 to the foundation's fund, bringing this year's overall fundraising to well over $3.3 million. More than 10,000 pink bandanas were distributed by 280 volunteers, and Jane McGrath's high tea went ahead as planned.

Cricket Australia won't be cheerful about the weather, needing to refund tickets for all participants and thousands more who are looking up at the sky and staying home. This came after two days of ticket refunds following the expedited Brisbane Test that kicked off the series.

However, it was a great result for South Africa, going through the whole day without conceding or losing a goal. According to statistical analyst CricViz, that was the only day in Test this summer when the odds of an opponent's losing percentage did not improve. A day of rest would also be welcome, mentally and physically, after two days on the pitch.

For Australia, this means a tactical rethink. It's hard to win when the first inning is still going on on day four. Usman Khawaja isn't out at 195, and it will be hard not to give him at least a few overs to get hit in his first Test double century. But that's not going to be the focus. Speaking after the game was abandoned, Khawaja said Australia would continue playing regardless of its achievements.

“Time is the only enemy,” is his formula, which may seem counterintuitive to keep piling on runs. But the tactical consideration for Australia is to set a challenging follow-through mark, so they can aim to beat South Africa underneath and send them back. Calling soon would give South Africa a top 275 shot and then set Australia batting. a second time, or make a risky second statement. As it happens, a dash towards 550 will set a follow-up mark of 350, and increase the chances of being able to apply it.

It would be a rare follow-up use if it came to pass, with most teams not choosing to implement it in the modern era. It's mostly about looking after the welfare of the bowlers rather than embarrassment based on historical results. When a captain can rest his bowlers in the third innings and then give the last five outs of the game to complete the fourth innings, there's no reason not to. But when time is short, as it is here, the follow-up comes back into the equation.

Two specialist spinners and three part-timers had to help the Australian pull off lots of overs, on a damp pitch, sitting under a blanket and able to do anything on day four. The chance of winning is still very big. South Africa can hit long enough to put him out of reach. They still have their own opportunity to take something from the tour, and to follow their only good day so far with one of their own making.

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