Australia up and running; Proteas still in planning

2011-08-31 00:00

THE all-important battle between South Africa and Australia is just over a month-and-a-half away. This high-profile series is important to both teams, yet their preparation couldn’t be more different.

Australia are in Sri Lanka for a T20, one-day and three match Test series. This is ideal preparation for the upcoming series against South Africa.

Things are looking up for them after wrapping up the one-day series and holding onto their number one ODI ranking. Sweeping changes to Cricket Australia’s management seem to have rejuvenated the side. Ricky Ponting, without the pressure of captaincy, has found the form that has eluded him for some time, averaging 49 in the ODIs.

His successor, Michael Clarke, will lead the Australians in the first Test match of the Test series, which begins in Galle today.

By contrast, the Protea’s 28-man squad meet for the first time at a pre-season camp on Monday, bringing an end to a seven-month break for some of the cricketers.

The five-day camp will be held at Arabella Golf Estate near Cape Town. Protea bowling coach Allan Donald said it will not involve any cricketing drills, but will allow the team to plan and to give Gary Kirsten the opportunity to share his vision with the national team.

Some of the squad members were part of the SA “A” side that fared well in Zimbabwe. Others have been on the English county cricket circuit: Imran Tahir for Hampshire, Alviro Pietersen for Glamorgan and Wayne Parnell, who has battled to cement his place, for Sussex. Test captain Graeme Smith has and paceman Dale Steyn are both on the recovery list.

South Africa’s domestic season begins in a month’s time and the first T20 match against Australia will be played on October 13.

Before this 12 of Kirsten’s 28 players (from the Cape Cobras and Warriors franchise) will be involved in the Champions League Twenty20 tournament to be held in India.

Should either of these teams make it beyond the group stages they will have no net time with the Proteas ahead of the first T20 game.

This is a concern for Kirsten who will have very little time to galvanise his squad.

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