Two T20Is, three ODIs and two Tests – a ridiculous number of matches considering the stature of both the teams.
Australia and South Africa have dominated and have had an unparalleled rivalry in cricket over the past decade with both super heavyweights trying to establish their dominance in World cricket. An Australia-South Africa series may not have the attention like an Ashes or an Indo-Pakistan series, but it definitely is big in its own way and the past couple of series between the teams suggest that.
South Africa won the last series in Australia with a 2-1 scoreline while the Aussies beat the Proteas by the same scoreline on the return tour. The present series also has already had its glory moments with Theron and Parnell scripting an improbable victory to level the T20 series while Mike Hussey ensured that Aussies took home the ODI series after the series was leveled 1-1 after two games.
As the teams enjoy an extended break before the real test begins, South Africa welcome back the backbone of their middle order into the squad with Ab De Villiers recovering in time for the Testswhile Michael Clarke hopes to continue the winning run that he began in Sri Lanka as Australia move into the next phase of their building progress with their new No. 3 batsman in the form of Shaun Marsh.
Marsh replaced Ponting for the Test in Pallekele when the latter flew home for the birth of his child and after he knocked up a wonderful 141 on debut, he kept his place even after Ponting returned and cemented the all-important spot with another 81 in the following Test. The big news for South Africa is the selection of Jacques Rudolph after five years. Rudolph’s selection was anticipated after he scored more than 900 first class runs last season which meant Alvaro Petersen found no place in the squad despite having a decent run in the domestic circuit.
Imran Tahir may be the man to watch over the two Tests as the leg-spinner got his first Test call-up after an impressive World Cup while Australia may ponder playing with four pacers with the impressive Pat Cumminsfighting for the fourth bowler’s spot with Nathan Lyon and Trent Copeland.With Ponting, Clarke and Hussey at 4, 5 and 6 and with Haddin to follow, Australia’s middle order looks impregnable but with Steyn and Morkel in the South African lineup, it will be a battle worth watching.
JP Duminy was the Proteas’ hero in Australia last time around while the sight of Mitchell Johnson bloodying batsmen was the story in South Africa.A few years down the line, Duminy is the batsman who is yet to fulfill the promise that he had showed while Mitchell Johnson lost his line, length and eventually place in the squad and both the players will be looking at this series to prove that they still belong to the top level and the series may as well shape out depending on the performances of these key men.
South Africa: Graeme Smith (Captain), Ab De Villiers (Vice-Captain), Jacques Rudolph, HashimAmla, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince, JP Duminy, Mark Boucher (Wicketkeeper), Paul Harris, Imran Tahir, Dale Steyn, MorneMorkel, LonwaboTsotsobe, Vernon Philander.
Australia: Michael Clarke (Captain), Shane Watson (Vice-Captain), Phillip Hughes, Shaun Marsh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, UsmanKhwaja, Brad Haddin (Wicketkeeper), Michael Beer, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Trent Copeland, Pat Cummins.