Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Preview, 1st Test, Australia versus South Africa, GABBA

Are we there yet..........
Are we there yet.............
Are we there yet.................


You all know that feeling when you just want to get somewhere and have to go through a mind numbingly boring experience to get there.

That is how I felt with 3 months of T20 being forced feed to us and culminating in the CLT20 Tournament that had all the appeal of a Dead Toenail taking up a period of time that could have seen this series stretched out to 5 Tests.

Which everyone wanted except the International Cricket Council who only cares about $$$$$$$


Deep sigh...........so here we are and let us dissect this mouth watering clash

The Pitch

The GABBA is probably the best and purest Test pitch in the World. With it favouring no one, but providing a canvas for good players to excel as well as a full proof manner to expose impostors in the Test arena

Expected Teams

Australia
 
The Team has been dealt a bitter blow with the injury to all rounder Shane Watson that deprives the side of its best old ball bowler. Who can not only be that defensive bowler allowing the attacking bowlers to bowl in short sharp spells from the other end, but also is lethal with his reverse swing. 

HUGE loss to the bowling

Also his absence in the batting means a debutante in Rob Quiney will come into the Team and be expected to bat at three against the might of the South African attack.

Which if it happens is akin to throwing the lad to the wolves and the Teams Think Tank 
should hold his head in shame. Especially with a perfect number three in Captain Michael Clarke taking the easy way out by batting at 5!

The Aussies in the lead up have also been talking up the need for a spinner in Brisbane meaning Nathan Lyon will play.

Making the Team as follows

Cowan, Warner, Quiney, Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, Wade, Pattinson, Siddle, Starc, Lyon


South Africa 


The South African line up is very settled indeed with no real conjecture over any of the spots this will be the line up

Petersen, Smith, Amla, Kallis, DeVilliers, Rudolph, Duminy, Steyn, Philander, Morkel, Tahir


The Keys to Winning

Australia


There is little doubt that despite the loses of an elite new ball bowler in Pat Cummins and the best old ball bowler in the game in Shane Watson, the Aussies still have an attack that could trouble any batting line up.

But sadly for the hosts, if there bowling is bordering on exceptional it is scuppered by their batting which is average to say the very least

Only Michael Clarke, who has been transformed from the player whose face was on every fans dart board after the Ashes to being a true revelation in his batting renaissance since becoming Captain

The South African's know Clarke's pedigree well with 151 out of 284 the Capetown Test of 2010 schooling them. In which he played one of the best innings seen in the Modern Age on a very willing pitch that had sweated under the covers. Front row centre were the South Africans to see Clarke's importance to the teams batting as was further evidenced in the 2nd innings when he failed and the Team were rolled for 47....

In a sense it is like what the Aussies were in the mid 80's with everyone knowing that if you stopped Allan Border the rest would more than likely fold like a deck of cards

Quite simple in the now someone from the top 6 needs to stand up and be counted to support Clarke

My assessment of the rest of the top 6 is as follows

Dave Warner- gained respect from the brilliant innings he played in Hobart against a very decent New Zealand pace attack. But I think he is a sucker against the short stuff

Ed Cowan- The maybe man, who has at times looked good and one of the few in the Aussie line up who plays a traditional game. I just have a feeling he might surprise a few and really irk with his old style play a bit like Simon Katich used too.

Rob Quiney- He is a Victorian, so that is always a bonus, but averages barely 38 in First Class Cricket............need I say more?

Ricky Ponting- Has talked the talk in the lead up to this series, and is desperate to make the Ashes, but can he walk the walk against the South Africans?

His exceptional form in the Shield this year where he has averaged 118 offers promise, and you can never doubt the fight in a true warrior

Mike Hussey- Been playing T20 Cricket for months which does nothing for his preparation, and he might live to regret that in this series

If one or two of these can rise this series could be a classic with the chance of an Aussie upset...

Away from the concerns over the batting the loss of Shane Watson to the bowling unit is crucial with his pedigree as a top class old ball bowler with a real mastery of reverse swing impossible to replace.

Plus it changes the dynamics of the attack with 
Nathan Lyon's role changing. In his career he has been used brilliantly by Michael Clarke as a situational bowler with him being brought on at times when they are on top and it is unlikely he is attacked. With only three seamers here, it means Lyon will have to be bowled as a stock bowler and cannot hide. Meaning the excellent South African batsmen will probably expose his lack of class

If he is knocked out of the attack making Clarke have no confidence to bowl him it will be decisive in this match.

Lastly the excellent Aussie pacemen will have to make adjustment for this series with the South African batsmen all embracing traditional styles. Meaning they will never gift their wickets, and as the English were driven crazy over they will make you bowl to them with any ball even a inch away from off stump will be left.

So the Aussies will have to go old school in this series aiming to hitting the off stump with every delivery aided by swing and cut.


South Africa 

After reading the morning Papers in Australia today I could have sworn I heard the laughter coming from the South African Teams Hotel down here in Melbourne so absurd were the words being penned on how to stop them.....

Australia will target Hashim Amla with verbal aggression and engage him in a "psychological war", 

LOL!..........do you think a traditional Muslim man living in a hysterical World in regards to anything Islam would care about some chitchat or nasty words, and does not know how to laugh them off?


I am pretty sure Clarke standing at 1st slip saying "nice beard dickhead" in his effeminate voice is not going to rattle him too much.

Quite the opposite, I think he would use it to strengthen his resolve and desire to plunder his precursors with him probably being one of the strongest players mentally in the game. 


including peppering Jacques Kallis with bouncers 

This is obviously born out of Kallis getting felled by two brutes of deliveries from Mitchell Johnson and Sreesanth in South Africa years ago. 

But do you think a man that has scored nearly 12500 Test runs with 43 centuries would care about the short ball?

Ridiculous!

Away from this farce it is hard to see South Africa not dominating this series based on the completeness in their Team that encompasses excellent batting, bowling supported by top class fielding.
Only Imran Tahir is a weakness that the Aussies could expose, but this is unlikely to happen for you can see the lethal South African seamers dominating. So when Tahir is thrown the ball everything will be in his favour

The Team can improve too....

This might shock and startle a few, but this can start with one Dale Steyn, who has been a real disappointment in 2012 a
veraging only 29.22 which is well down on his career average of 23.50.

Proof that the 'Steyn Remover' is indeed mortal, but makes us all sense that he is primed to be a wrecking ball in this series.

You just get the whole side is primed to not only win, but do so in a manner that takes some casualties and leaves a real legacy in the minds of their opposition.

They want to grind the Aussies into the turf similar to the manner in which the Aussies used to do all too regularly to them.

The silent joy taken in gaining Andrew Strauss's scalp in the aftermath of the English series gave this impression

Prediction


The loss of Shane Watson is huge to the Australian Team with his absence changing its whole dynamic. In particular its bowling which is its strength, and with Watson in it has few weaknesses, but without him it pushes Nathan Lyon forward in a more pivotal role.

Which he is in no way up too

Add to this the worries over the Aussie batting

You can see South Africa winning this Test comprehensively


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