Thursday, January 31, 2013

Player Profiles- South Africa versus Pakistan Test Series

Tick....tick..tick.......with my umpteenth glance at the clock showing only 75 hours and 31 minutes until the stars of the show begin to captivate us in the much anticipated South Africa versus Pakistan Test Series...

I am fully prepared for 5 days of Test indulgence with copious amounts of fast food in my cupboard, the local Pizza place memorised on speed dial on my phone, my cat booked into feline retreat so as to not disturb me and all the ladies begging to take me out put on hold....


LOL......., I WISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My imagination strayed there somewhat, but let us refocus and meet the stars of the up coming show, and run the rule over their prospects in the series

South Africa

Likely Team


Smith, A Petersen, Amla, Kallis, DeVilliers, DuPlesis, Elgar, R Petersen, Steyn, Philander, Morkel


Player Profiles 

Graeme Smith ( C )


In my view, the South African Captain is still the most important part of the teams batting with his success or failure impacting on the rest. You saw this with him inspiring the procession in England, and then awakening the Sleeping Giants in the batting with his inspirational lead in the decisive Perth Test against Australia. With the series dead locked.

It always astounds me how under rated he is as a player to the point where he is often mistreated in peoples judgements....


Strengths

His sheer inspiration to his Team mates is his greatest strength with him always leading the South African charge. As a batsman, he is not the most talented, but in the mind is so strong making him relentless in his yearn for success. He is old school in being nigh on impossible to break down and with this he intimidates


Potential Weaknesses

It is obvious that Smith does not like the inswinging balls from left handers as seen by his struggles against India's Zaheer Khan a few years back. This backed by the fact that in his 187 innings career he has been dismissed by a left armer 39  times.


Series Prospects

I think his battle with the young left arm fast bowling phenom Junaid Khan will be a key part of the series.

Sadly, I think he might come out a loser from that battle


Alviro Petersen 

The veteran after having a revolving door type career in the Team staked a claim for permancy in 2012. His 182 in England was of the highest calibre showing he could be the answer for one of South Africa's greatest issues in regards to a long term partner for Smith at the top


Strengths

The fight in the lad with him being dropped a few times from the Team but never giving up. instead going a way and making himself better and never losing his belief.


Potential Weaknesses

Temperament.........we saw this in Australia with him having the bowlers at his mercy only to throw a way his innings. Against a Pakistan bowling unit that is very good at strangulation he will need to be more disciplined

Series Prospect:


I like him, and think he might slip out of the noose with most of the focus being on others in the batting line up

Hashim Amla 


The more you write about Amla, the more you realise how out of line your words are with them in no way being able to portray how good he is

He is complete at a level that could see him end his career averaging over 60 and being in the conversation as being the 2nd best ( behind Bradman ) in the games history


Strengths

Sincere Completeness in him having all the gears in batting allowing him to play dour stonewalling innings as adeptly as he would playing a stroke filled attacking Gem.

As adept against pace and spin too


Potential Weakness

One of the funniest things I have ever heard was on the recent Australia tour with the Aussies planning to target Amla with sledging. just one look at Amla's traditional Muslim appearance in a World hysterical over anything to do with the Muslim faith would show how absurd this idea was.

This farce aside, I cannot think of any weakness in his batting

Series Prospects


He is not only exceptional, but ultra consistent meaning you know he will be a factor in this series. It is just a question over how much a factor he will be

Jacques Kallis


In the past we have queried about whether Kallis is the best all rounder the game has seen and recently with his exceptional batting we have brought up the possibility that he is the best batsman in the Modern Age

Without doubt, one of the best in the games history


Strengths

One of the best batsmen seen, a very accomplished bowler with him completing his Resume by being a A grade fieldsman any where on the ground. In particular in the Slips where he is one of the best ever


Potential Weakness:

I cannot think of one- can you?


Series Prospects 

Like Amla, Kallis is characterised by his consistent excellence meaning you know he will have a say in this series. The only question is the extent of his say

A.B.DeVilliers


The ultra defensive mannerisms of the South African think tank that has seen them revert DeVilliers to a keeper to extend the batting. Which has been questionable. I say this for with the class of Kallis, Amla, Smith and DeVilliers in the teams top 6 why would they even consider this move?

With it having a detrimental effect on DeVilliers deadly dangerous attack minded batting as well as making the Team suspect behind the Stumps.

AB is a brilliant factor in the field, but he is not a keepers bootlace, and could cost the Team BIG


Strengths

The batting X factor that the team has yearned for years. At his best, AB is a true attacking genius with him being able to turn games on their ears


Potential Weaknesses

As a batsman he is very complete, but I think his mind has been off since assuming the keeping role. So this could be a factor to exploit with lapses in concentration being a concern

Series Prospects 


I love AB as a player, but the South African Selectors have done him and the Team a disservice with their use of him. I think he will have a So So series with the bat and be found out behind the Stumps


Faf Du Plesis 

It was so ironical that the Aussie version of 'Mr Cricket' in Michael Hussey retired recently only to be replaced by a player who is a dead ringer for him. Every thing about Du Plesis reminds fans of Hussey with him being such a gritty, resourceful and tough batsman with a real embrace of traditional values. Even the fact that away from the batting crease, he is always involved in the game with him being a fabulous fielder, useful bowler and natural leader

Potential Weakness


He looked brilliant and so complete so far in his career, but I think the Pakistani's might let Saeed Ajmal interrogate his credentials against high class spin.


Strengths

Just the lads powers of concentration are outrageously good as we saw in the epic saved Test in Adelaide that he commandeered.


Series Prospects

This guy is the real deal, and with how traditional his batting is you can see the comparison with Michael Hussey being apt with him having a similar career.

The only thing that could derail him is if he is found out against spin in this series....


Dean Elgar 

Elgar's brief career has been two sides of a coin with him getting a pair and being humiliated by his meekness against the short ball in Australia to him filling his boots with runs against the dreadful Kiwis

First impressions stand true maybe???????


Strengths

His ability to hit back from a humiliating failure. As seen with a pair on his debut in Australia followed by a century in South Africa


Potential Weakness

You know as soon as Elgar walks in there will be a short leg, a backwards short leg and the sign given to the bowler to aim between his Heart up to his eyes


Series Prospects

I will be stunned if he makes it to the 2nd Test Team unscathed

Robin Petersen


A big hearted performer for the Team, but just lacks real quality for Test Cricket with his spin being borderline average in this standard of the game. His best chance of Test survival is reverting to a holding bowler which would allow the excellent South African quicks to operate in short sharp attacking spells. But any batting line up worth its salt would see this ploy and endeavour to milk him to evaporate his defensive potential.

Strengths

His heart, he knows his limitations, but just puts all of himself into everything he does

Potential Weakness

A lack of real Test class as a Spinner will see him exposed

Series Prospects 


A lot will depend on how effective the pacemen are. If they are stellar, the pressure comes of Petersen meaning he will be a neat and tidy bowler picking up a few wickets here and there with the scraps throw his way by the quickmens pressure.

if the batsmen are on top when he bowls, he can expect to receive some 'tap'

Vernon Philander 


We all keep expecting Philander to slow down on his incredible wicket taking carnage that has seen him take 74 wickets at an average of 17.4 in his 13 Test match career. But timing is everything in sport, and his has been impeccable with him being an old style traditional bowler matched against a generation of batsmen that for the most have no clue against old style bowling.

He will be tested in this series with part of Pakistan's recent success being found in attention to the games basics in batting


Strengths

As a bowler, his relentless consistency that could see him make a mark on the pitch and hit it with 9 out of ten balls. the result of this is that he does not merely 'test' batsmen, but rather he ruthlessly interrogates them


Potential Weakness


Philander is as certain as Death and Taxes and also has an upside with him under performing in batting. Which he has real talent in

Series Prospects 


A clash of Philander's relentless attention to disciplined lines and lengths versus Pakistan's battings adherence to defensive mannerisms highlighted by the leave...

Compelling!


Dale Steyn 

The man viewed as one of the best bowlers ever has been living on reputation for a while with his performances of the last year belying his legend. An average of 29.71 for 2012 shows this, and though that is a very respectable figure for mere mortal bowlers, the man known as 'The Steyn Remover' in his career has been revered for his immortal like deeds


Strengths

Basically he can do thing with ball in hand that few in the games history have been able to replicate.


Potential Weaknesses


Of late, Steyn has been very hot and cold and lacked the consistency in excellence of his previous years

Series Prospects
 

A high profile series like this might re fuel the Steyn jets allowing us to see him at his best

Morne Morkel 


I always see Morkel as the South African 'Invisible Man' with all the focus falling on Philander and Steyn meaning people overlook his calibre. His style in fact could be the toughest for the Pakistani's to adapt too with him being a skilled quick that gets real bounce


Strengths

His awkwardness for batsmen to play against with a combination of his pace and natural rearing bounce because of his height being a devastating combo


Potential Weakness

Consistency used to be one, but is becoming a high class and complete bowler 

Series Prospects


I think he will be South Africa's best performed bowler in the series with his rearing bounce proving lethal

Pakistan

Likely Team


Hafees, Jamshed, Azhar Ali, Younis, Asad, Misbah, Sarfraz, Umar Gul, Junaid, Ajmal, Irfan


Player Profiles 

Mohammad Hafees

Hafees is a wonderful thinking player that not only gives Pakistan a lovely balance with his all round skill, but also is the key Lieutenant to Misbah's Captaincy. In my mind it is a bit like how Javed Miandad tactical nous was a huge key for Imran Khan success in Captaincy.

Away from my glowing endorsement for the betterment of the team he needs to do more in his batting. He is a bit what Shane Watson is for Australia in a batsman that looks so good and captivates you with his potential only to throw away so many promising innings.

He cant do that here with the Teams success being dependant on him turning his 'pretty' 30's into decisive 100's

It will be of interest how South African batsmen approach his bowling with him being the Master of strangulation in regards to scoring rates


Strengths

He is the thinking mans cricketer, and such a calm presence in this Team


Potential Weakness 

Mostly temperament in that he gets himself out so many times. But I think a certain M Morkel might examine Hafees with the chin music

Series Prospects


I think he will have a fine series with both bat and ball

Nasir Jamshed


There is something about this youngster that you just like. He is described as an attacking player which indeed is true with him having an array of breath taking shots. But he has a temperament that allows him to read the needs of the game and adapt his play accordingly with him equally adept playing a more restrained innings.

I guess it is why the comparisons with the great Saeed Anwar have begun with him being a long way off that level of batsmanship, but having the potential to have a very Fine career.

Strengths


His career has only been brief, but you cant help but laud his temperament

Weaknesses


Fitness is the main one that will prevent him from playing long innings in Tests because of the stamina he lacks

Series Prospect 


I think he might be like a thief in the night in this series and steal some runs while the South African focus is on others

Azhar Ali 


A man born into the game in crisis during the 2010 Tour to England with it toughening him from his debut. In the last year he has started to develop into a very fine batsmen with him embracing a defensive style, but having some lovely attacking shots in his arsenal. This series will be his judge as to whether he is an A Grade quality batsmen as defined by being able in all conditions or one that struggles with the foreign bounce.

Strengths


He is a traditional number three in the Dravid and Trott sense with him making the bowlers bowl to him and making it a battle of attrition. That he often wins because he has all the attributes to stay the journey whereas his foes fall by an by

Weakness


He needs to be more proactive when on top to best benefit his Team

Series Prospects 


I love this young batsman, and can see him adapting to the conditions and actually doing well.

Younis Khan ( YK )


A true warrior in all regards, and the established class batsmen in the side. He will be the barometer for the Team with how he leads the charge with the runs he gets and the guidance he gives to the youngsters around him. He struggled in South Africa in his previous tours here, but he has the class to be a huge factor here.

Strengths 


His Mind that is as tough as teak and has allowed him turn his average ability into an A Grade performer with him being truly relentless in his desire to prevail


Weaknesses

He is tetchy outside off early in innings


Series Prospects

I think Pakistan's chances rest largely with YK having a decisive impact. I think he might too

Misbah Ul Haq ( C ) 


In my mind, Misbah in his time as Pakistan Captain has been just as noteworthy in his achievements as Imran Khan was in his tenure in the job. On the eve of this series he is presented with a chance to take him from a position of respect to one of real awe if victory is achieved or even a drawn series.

Looking at the series, you can see his batting being important to the Teams success, but his Captaincy being crucial. With the conditions meaning he cannot rely on spin and instead needs to marshal a pace attack into being the primary part of the attack. As well as integrating the spin factor into a more secondary role but maintaining its cutting edge.

Strengths


Few people know the strength in this Mans mind with him being overlooked and picked and discarded many times before his remarkable time in charge.

His tactical nous and man management as a Leader is exemplary, and as a batsman he might not be the most talented, but boy is he tough to get out

Weaknesses


As a batsman his greatest strength is his defensive prowess, but then it is also his greatest weakness in the times he gets tied down. Meaning the scoring dries up and unneeded pressure falls on others

Series Prospects 


Misbah is a winner, and will leave South Africa with another feather in his Cap


Asad Shafiq

Very much in the likeness of Azhar Ali in his rise in the Test game in recent times. He approached innings with the same dour demeanour, but has an attacking flair in him that I am sure will surface with greater confidence. His temperament is of the highest calibre setting up a career that could verge on him being a very fine batsman for Pakistan

Strengths


He loves the stage and is ice cool under real pressure as seen in his contributions at crucial times against England last year


Weaknesses

It will be interesting to see Asad's response to some expected 'chin music'


Series Prospects 

This boy has real heart meaning you know he will be a contributor to the Teams cause


Sarfraz Ahmed ( wk )

Sarfraz's selection raised a few eye brows with it obvious that his batting prowess got him into the Team ahead of incumbent Adnan Akmal. Especially with how frail the Pakistani tail is. You can understand this with Sarfraz being a very able batsman that has been proven in similar conditions in Australia a few years back on an A Tour. His glove work is also very neat and tidy

Strengths


This boy has a real bulldogs spirit in everything he does

Weakness


A keeper in essence is the Captains second pair of eyes and maintains the intensity in the field. Can Sarfraz do that job?

Series Prospects 


A fine inclusion that will have an instant impact

Umar Gul


I love the 'Gul-Dozer', and are so respectful of his skill with the ball

A series in bowling friendly confines will make him potentially devastating with bounce and seam off the pitch being added to the swing he always gets


Strengths

No one has a bigger Heart that is draped in the Pakistani 'Green' as Gul does

Weaknesses


Every thing to me in the game is about a players contribution to the Team, I cannot fault Gul in his bowling in this regard. But as a batsman he has the talent to average at least 15 and make useful 30's here and there. He needs to do that in this series


Series Prospects 

All the talk about Junaid....Ajmal and the Saffer Bowling greats....I am thinking the 'Gul-Dozer' might out perform them all

Saeed Ajmal 


An unorthodox genius that truly captivates

It has bemused me a bit how the lead up to this series has focussed on how the pace friendly conditions will to a large part nullify Ajmal's off spin......

When in reality the extra pace and bounce will in fact aide him for Ajmal is not a spinner dependant on the turn. He is more an old style type that entraps with his subtle guile and then dismembers with his deceptive variations

Strengths


How he conceals his threat....He bowls all his variations exactly the same making him a nightmare to read from the hand and forcing batsmen to play him off the pitch.

Weaknesses


I cannot find a weakness in his bowling, but the loss of Abdur Rehman and the pressure he exerts in support of Ajmal will lessen his effectiveness

Series Prospects 


A few South African batsmen will be ringing Darryl Cullinan for tips on dealing with Spin nightmares

Junaid Khan 


Compliments are thrown around wily nily in Sport making you take little notice of them, but on seeing Junaid Khan bowl, and hearing that he is as talented as Wasim Akram

Call me crazy, but I saw more than just a semblance of truth in it....

He is consistently over 140kms and makes the ball talk off the pitch and in the air

Strengths


His skill will the ball in hand

Weaknesses


His relative inexperience and dealing with the pressure of expectation

Series Prospects 


I think he will remind all of how great Akram was with a similar type calibre performance

Mohammad Irfan 


This 7'1 lad has everything to be a Test wrecking ball...

The only thing in the infancy of his career in this series is his lack of fitness meaning his effectiveness will depend on Misbah use of him. He will obviously use him as a situational bowler in short sharp 3-4 over burst.

Watching how he goes will be must see

Strengths


Natural rearing bounce combined with decent pace

Weaknesses 


A lack of fitness is the key one, and then the fact he will be a liability in the field and with bat in hand

Series Prospects


I think he will have his moments, but for the most part be weak link in the attack

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