For the first time, we are all about to witness the progression of Team South Africa after the exit of Jacques Kallis, one of its greatest cricketers and living legends of the game. He walked into the sunset of his career with a magnificent century in his last test.
Luckily for South Africa, they have in Hashim Amla a high calibre player who can provide the solidarity that Kallis used to provide. One thing pretty sure is that he would be thinking twice before leaving the ball after his twin dismissals against India. In Faf du Plessis, South Africa have found a reliable fighter who will chip in when the odds are against them. The formidable batting lineup is colored with one of the most experienced captain/opener amongst the current cricket playing nations along with the AB. de Villiers. The only unsettled spot in the middle order is currently occupied by JP Duminy, who is on the verge of a comeback but yet to hit a purple patch. He needs to deliver soon else the likes of Quintn de Kock and David Miller would surely come into contention. This batting line up has a big challenge to counter a fully fired up Mitchell Johnson and co in bowler friendly conditions.
As far as bowling department goes, South Africa has always been a difficult side to beat at home with Steyn, Morkel, and Philander operating in friendly conditions. The only piece of puzzle that they have to sort out is to find a reliable 4th bowler (to replace Kallis) and a spinner. The lone contender at this point for the All Rounder position seems to be Ryan McLaren although Wayne Parnell could be a surprise selection owing to him being a left arm fast bowler and if South Africa wants to go for variety. In the spin department if Robin Peterson cannot make the cut into the team, then Duminy and Faf du Plessis have to share that responsibility with their part time slow bowling.
The Aussie batsmen would be in for a much sterner test than what they faced at home against a tired and depleted English attack. They have to face the current World’s number 1 bowling attack in their own backyard. Australia can only hope that they don’t have to rely on Haddin and the lower order to prop up their team total. This series is a big test for Steve Smith to prove his pedigree. For Australian batsmen to set up the matches, it is important that the top order clicks and that too consistently. With Chris Rogers not likely to continue for too long, Australia will have to start looking for a stable opening partner for David Warner although this decision will be for an other day. A lot of responsibility is also on the shoulders of newcomer Alex Doolan who will bat at number 3, the spot occupied by some of the great aussie legends. The batting once again strongly depends on Michael Clarke who would like to replicate the form that he was in, when India went visiting down under. His batting form could play a significant role in deciding which way the series would tilt.
The bowling department of the Aussies will face a stiffer challenge in South Africa as compared to the bouncer wary English batsmen. Mitchell Johnson may not find as many bunnies for his express pace as he did back home in Ashes. The bulk of the load would be shared between the same quartet who demolished the English with some support from Watson, Smith. With Watson out of the contention from the first test, his place could go to Shaun Marsh and this will leave the Aussies one bowler short. A left side surprise selection would be that of Moises Henriques who replaces the injured James Faulkner from the original touring party.
All in all this series seems to have all the ingredients of a pot boiler for all the cricket enthusiasts to relish. All the cricket lovers will be looking forward to an exciting series between the world’s two premier teams.
Sportzcosmos predicted XI for the first test:
Australia (probable): David Warner, Chris Rogers, Alex Doolan, Michael Clarke, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon
South Africa (probable): Graeme Smith, Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, Ryan McLaren, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel