Statistics may prove something but it’s consistency that prevails from anything else. Australia might be coming off a glorious season against the English but remember one important fact is that they were playing on home turf and against an over-confident English team. Now the men in baggy green travel to South Africa and one thing is for sure, they’re not going to get off easy like they had in The Ashes series.
The South African conditions are variably similar to the Australian surf but that does not defeat the point that South Africa will have home ground advantage. A 5-0 whitewash to an undercooked English side has boosted the Australians confidence but defeating the number one Test side may be hurdle difficult to jump over.
Australia’s bowling unit have shown tremendous attack in the recent Ashes series. Captain Michael Clarke commented, “We have the greatest attack in the world and they’ve shown it. It’s certainly going to be a challenge for us to perform over there and then our next Test series is in the UAE against Pakistan, which is going to be extremely tough as well.”
Other than Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Nathan Lyon’s brilliant bowling display against the Pommies, the South African batting order might be more content with the Aussies especially towards Nathan Lyon. Despite being overshadowed by their attacking bowling unit, the Australian batsmen have been impressive against the likes of Stuart Broad and James Anderson, all top five batsman getting scores in the series.
Clarke top scoring for the Australians with 148 in the second test, whilst David Warner, Chris Rogers and Shane Watson added valuable scores to the Australian scoreboard. Wicket-keeper Brad Haddin provided a pivoting role in the middle overs for his side as well as Steve Smith.
The Australian team have not been shy in press conferences about their tour to South Africa. David Warner commented that the South Africans ‘are on the back foot’. Another report from Peter Siddle backed Clarke’s comment that Australia has a better bowling attack than the South Africans.
Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn remain at number one and two on the ICC Test bowling rankings with Ryan Harris at number three. Harris has delayed his knee surgery in order to play for Australia in their tour to Africa. AB de Villiers has also come off a surgery on his hand after he found discomfort during the Indian series.
Looking back on the previous tours between the two teams, Australia have come out on top, however Australia have changed and their team does not show similarities to the ones gone before with the same applying to South Africa. This would prove Australia’s characteristics right on what was called as a ‘lucky tour’ as the English were poor in every facet in the entire series. Both teams will know that the pass will be forgotten and both be coming into this tour with a new approach and which team will keep up with consistency performances in the five day game.
This is the first tour where South Africa will be entirely without Jacques Kallis. Since Kallis’ debut, he has only missed 18 Test matches in his 18 year career starting from the end of 1995. The all-rounder provided an extra bowling option for skipper Graeme Smith and gave solid batting display at the number three/four position.
Replacements talks have been speculating for Kallis’ spot, Ryan McLaren and Wayne Parnell have been heard around the lips of every cricket critic. The decision may be rectified as the home team have arranged a match between South Africa and a South Africa Invitational XI just before the first test between Australia.
South Africa are favourites coming into the tour, known worldwide as the number one team, there is pressure for both teams. Can South Africa show once again why they are number one in the world? Can Australia prove that their Ashes victory was no fluke? These questions will be answered soon in the coming months.
South Africa is currently number one and Australia is currently number three in the ICC World Test Rankings. The two teams play three Test matches and three T20s.
Australia to South Africa 2014 schedule:
12 February – 1st Test at Centurion, Pretoria
20 February – 2nd Test at St. Georges, Port Elizabeth
1 March – 3rd Test at Newlands, Cape Town
9 March – 1st T20I at St. Georges, Port Elizabeth
12 March – 2nd T20I at Kingsmead, Durban
14 March – 3rd T20I at Centurion, Pretoria
Australian Team: Michael Clarke (captain), Brad Haddin (vice captain), Jackson Bird, Alex Doolan, James Faulkner, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, David Warner, Shane Watson.
South African Team: Graeme Smith (captain), AB de Villiers (vice captain), Hashim Amla, Alviro Petersen, JP Duminy, Vernon Philander, Faf du Plessis, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Robin Peterson, Kyle Abbott, Ryan McLaren, Imran Tahir, Rory Kleinveldt, Thami Tsolekile, Wayne Parnell.