Can SA weather the Aussie storm?

2012-10-27 15:22

Australia made strides in unleashing a torrent of fast bowlers last summer, but their real test begins against South Africa, writes Khanyiso Tshwaku

The sight of Indian batsmen hotfooting it on pacy Australian pitches last year was not a good one to behold.

However, when you learn your trade on wickets that are dust bowls and flat decks, it is more or less what you deserve.

One might look at the quality of the Indian line-up that contained Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag and say they underperformed.

But they were expertly worked out and one could say it was one tour too far for the Indian golden middle order.

Dravid and Laxman have now walked on into the sunset.

South Africa’s vaunted batting unit, by contrast, resisted whatever the English could throw at them.

This was the same bowling line-up that had so easily dismantled Australia in the Ashes nearly two years ago, but they failed South Africa’s stern examination, particularly from the indomitable Hashim Amla. Can Australia’s young bowlers succeed where England failed?

Pitching the ball in your own half of the track to soften up a batsman works against a subcontinental outfit, who prefer the ball to stay below stump height.

Australia’s use of the short ball was effective in that follow-up deliveries were often full and swinging, never allowing the Indians to settle.

The old-school technician Dravid was, incredibly, bowled seven times in eight innings.

It is a tactic they will need to reprise with a lot more frequency and accuracy against South Africa.

This time last year they were able to keep the hosts on a leash in the truncated series. Pat Cummins’ pace was a little too hot for the South Africans to handle while the accuracy of Peter Siddle, Mitchell Johnson, Shane Watson and Nathan Lyon also kept the Proteas in check to some extent.

With the success achieved against India and the continued rise of the likes of James Pattinson, it is not a lack of depth that is the issue for Australians, but rather the composition of their attack.
Raw they may be, but such potential riches have not been witnessed in a young team since the West Indian era when great bowlers such as Wayne Daniel, Ezra Moseley and Sylvester Clarke simply could not break the selection door down.

Unlike the Indians though, pace is a staple South African batsmen are brought up on.

The Aussies may have an inside edge on the Proteas batsmen’s strengths and weaknesses thanks to Mickey Arthur’s intimate knowledge of the current team, but experience is not on their side.

It will make for an interesting battle.

» The first of a three-test series starts at the Gabba in Brisbane on November 9

South Africa in Australia

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