South Africa in Australia 2012-13 October 27, 2012

Smith ready for 'unique challenges' in Australia

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South Africa's preparations for their three-Test tour of Australia have hit a speed bump. The team management asked for their three-day practice match in Sydney to be played at venue closer to the first Test in Brisbane, without success.

"We tried hard to move it from Sydney but we haven't had any luck," Graeme Smith, the South Africa Test captain, said prior to the team's departure. "But we'll have to get stuck in and make it count no matter where we play it. We are not going to be able to use that as an excuse."

With no Test matches between the two countries taking place over the festive season, South Africa will play at the Gabba for the first time since readmission. They have only ever played three Test matches at the venue, the last one being in 1963, and lost two of them.

Despite the hiccup in preparation, Gary Kirsten believes the squad will be ready to take on Australia. "We went to England in the same way. We wanted to prepare really well. We didn't want to say too much, we wanted to make our performances count because in a three-match series, one session can make a big difference," Kirsten said.

As was the case with South Africa in England earlier in the year, they may be accused of being undercooked in Australia. Of the touring party, six have not played any competitive cricket since the squad returned from England. Smith, Dale Steyn, Hashim Amla, Robin Peterson and JP Duminy were given time off, while AB de Villiers has been recovering from a chronic back injury. Morne Morkel, Thami Tsolekile, Alviro Petersen, Jacques Kallis, Faf du Plessis and Jacques Rudolph all took part in the Champions League T20, while Vernon Philander, Rory Kleinveldt and Imran Tahir have played some first-class cricket.

But Kirsten has maintained that action on the field is not as important as the mental aspect of getting ready. Smith believes the team has done as much as they can in that regard. "We know we are going to face some unique challenges in Australia and we will be ready for them," he said.

One of those will be going up against the man who put the foundations in place for their ultimate rise to No.1: Mickey Arthur. Under him, South Africa won in both England and Australia in 2008 and 2009, and his knowledge of the South Africa team may give Australia the advantage. Smith does not see it as too much of a hurdle.

"As a South African, It's not something new that we have had to face [one of our own in another team]. I suppose, if we can put Australia under pressure, we know how Mickey is going to be reacting in the change room. But if I lose sleep over what Mickey is telling Australia that will affect the team," he said.

The other challenge is the battle of the pace attacks. As was the case ahead of the tour to England, this series is being dubbed the battle of the quicks and South Africa have chosen to go in with only their top three and one backup in Kleinvedlt. Some of Australia's options have been on display in the Champions League with Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins providing a taster for the big meal.

The difference between the two packs could be lack of certainty about who will line-up in Australia's, according to Smith. "We know Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle are their two main guys and they may rotate the youngsters. So it's also a little bit of an unknown, in terms of who they are going to play," Smith said. "It's all guys that we have come across before, though. We have got a really good pace attack as well and hopefully they can attack. Brisbane and Perth could be quite fiery from the sounds of things. We know our attack has the opportunity to exploit things."

While there was suggestion in Australian media that Smith said the South African bowlers will target Ricky Ponting, Smith has denied making any such comments. "I don't look to put his head on a mantelpiece. He has done well and he deserves all the respect in the world. Our job is to go there and make sure that he doesn't perform," Smith said. "With our bowling attack, we need to be able to put all the Australia batsmen under pressure. We do have a proven bowling attack that has travelled the world and done well, so we are not going headhunting."

Instead, South Africa will focus on stopping an Australian side that Smith said will be bullish. "They are on a momentum shift and an upward curve, and they would believe they are going to beat us there, but it's well known that we've got some really quality players as well."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SICHO on October 30, 2012, 15:49 GMT

    @Marcio- lol you remind of landl47 during the Eng-SA series. "Philander will struggle, Philander was lucky to play on green tracks, Philander this, Philander that" blah blah blah we've heard all that before and the results remained the same. So I've got one thing to say to you: get used to it.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on October 30, 2012, 13:01 GMT

    A good contest between the two best sides in the world by some margin. Aus are ahead in the pace bowling aspect with an array of sparkling young talents and all of them being genuine quick 140+ . Not so lucky atm with the batting side esp. the young ones and the big three again have a big job at hand .SA are a better batting unit as a whole with spin unlikely to play a big part. Aus go in as favourites with the pitches likely aid bounce,carry and bit of seam and remain pretty quick. The big three need to play to potential and the rest have to put valuable runs for the pacers. If they so it consistently Aus will win 2-0 maybe 3-0. Expecting a good one though with SA no less a class of their own an a tight contest.Waiting for the champ-Punter to reel off a ton or 2 carrying on from last summer and hope Watto make a big 100 and live to his potential at last. Go Aus ...you r the best...

  • Beertjie on October 29, 2012, 22:12 GMT

    The last series' result of 1-1 could easily have been 2-0 to SA. Oz needs to strike using 4 quicks with Starc targeting Smith and Kallis, using his angle. SA will not risk Tsolekile, so AB won't get much with the bat given his lack of game time. It's all up to the Oz batting to get that win next week. Once SA gets things sorted out we just might get another 1-1, otherwise I fear the worst.

  • thruthecovers on October 29, 2012, 20:32 GMT

    De Javu with all the over-confident Aussies on here. Doesn't they sound just like landl47 and the rest of the barmy army posse before the ENG series? Some people never learn, I guess. The way I see it, SA have only 3 important wickets to get...Ponting, Hussey and Clarke! That's not to say that Warner, Watson and the others won't bat well. Just that Aus' runs will most likely come from these 3. SA, on the otherhand, have Smith (contrary to marcio, jonesy et al's believe, when Smith score big SA win...end of), Amla, Kallis and de Villiers. You could almost add Duminy to that quartet (given his exploits the last time) but in fairness lets put him with the other possibles ie Petersen and Rudolph. What sets the SA bowling attack apart from Aus is what they achieved in that 1st Test in ENG. Or Nagpur when last they toured India. The new ball will be key in this series for both sides, but will Aus be able to come back if it doesnt work and expected to work hard for their wickets?

  • on October 29, 2012, 15:02 GMT

    Marcio why are you against philander? He is doing well and that is because of hard work, not luck. If there is movement he will find it and if he don't no one will. He swings the ball as well and puts it in the correct area most of the time. Pace do not gaurantee wickets but movement and swing does and hitting the correct areas.

  • Jesinthan on October 29, 2012, 10:00 GMT

    Marcio it wasn't luck that made Philander achieve what he achieved.

  • disco_bob on October 29, 2012, 9:02 GMT

    @sachin_vvsfan, maybe, but last time we only had Hilf and Sid v1.0 and Johnson. This time we have Hilf and Sid v2.1 and Starcy.

  • VivtheGreatest on October 29, 2012, 6:56 GMT

    @Cpt Meanster, Absolutely true man. Some people just believe their own hyperbole

  • ROXSPORT on October 29, 2012, 5:42 GMT

    @ screamingeagle : On the contrary, I think Ricky Ponting will do well.It is the back-up guys who have to support him. I am not so sure about Hussey,but the openers are going to struggle, Shane Watson's recent CL T20 exploits notwithstanding.

  • sachinanddravid on October 29, 2012, 5:02 GMT

    Very eager to see the test match between the two strongest team.Aus is having very good pace attack but when compared to Steyn and Morkel they are bit behind.and the result will be 2-0 on SA favour.but hope that aus ll not leave the s.africans to get that very easily.

    comeon Dale I want you to get five wkts atleast in every innings.

    Good Luck SA.

  • SICHO on October 30, 2012, 15:49 GMT

    @Marcio- lol you remind of landl47 during the Eng-SA series. "Philander will struggle, Philander was lucky to play on green tracks, Philander this, Philander that" blah blah blah we've heard all that before and the results remained the same. So I've got one thing to say to you: get used to it.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on October 30, 2012, 13:01 GMT

    A good contest between the two best sides in the world by some margin. Aus are ahead in the pace bowling aspect with an array of sparkling young talents and all of them being genuine quick 140+ . Not so lucky atm with the batting side esp. the young ones and the big three again have a big job at hand .SA are a better batting unit as a whole with spin unlikely to play a big part. Aus go in as favourites with the pitches likely aid bounce,carry and bit of seam and remain pretty quick. The big three need to play to potential and the rest have to put valuable runs for the pacers. If they so it consistently Aus will win 2-0 maybe 3-0. Expecting a good one though with SA no less a class of their own an a tight contest.Waiting for the champ-Punter to reel off a ton or 2 carrying on from last summer and hope Watto make a big 100 and live to his potential at last. Go Aus ...you r the best...

  • Beertjie on October 29, 2012, 22:12 GMT

    The last series' result of 1-1 could easily have been 2-0 to SA. Oz needs to strike using 4 quicks with Starc targeting Smith and Kallis, using his angle. SA will not risk Tsolekile, so AB won't get much with the bat given his lack of game time. It's all up to the Oz batting to get that win next week. Once SA gets things sorted out we just might get another 1-1, otherwise I fear the worst.

  • thruthecovers on October 29, 2012, 20:32 GMT

    De Javu with all the over-confident Aussies on here. Doesn't they sound just like landl47 and the rest of the barmy army posse before the ENG series? Some people never learn, I guess. The way I see it, SA have only 3 important wickets to get...Ponting, Hussey and Clarke! That's not to say that Warner, Watson and the others won't bat well. Just that Aus' runs will most likely come from these 3. SA, on the otherhand, have Smith (contrary to marcio, jonesy et al's believe, when Smith score big SA win...end of), Amla, Kallis and de Villiers. You could almost add Duminy to that quartet (given his exploits the last time) but in fairness lets put him with the other possibles ie Petersen and Rudolph. What sets the SA bowling attack apart from Aus is what they achieved in that 1st Test in ENG. Or Nagpur when last they toured India. The new ball will be key in this series for both sides, but will Aus be able to come back if it doesnt work and expected to work hard for their wickets?

  • on October 29, 2012, 15:02 GMT

    Marcio why are you against philander? He is doing well and that is because of hard work, not luck. If there is movement he will find it and if he don't no one will. He swings the ball as well and puts it in the correct area most of the time. Pace do not gaurantee wickets but movement and swing does and hitting the correct areas.

  • Jesinthan on October 29, 2012, 10:00 GMT

    Marcio it wasn't luck that made Philander achieve what he achieved.

  • disco_bob on October 29, 2012, 9:02 GMT

    @sachin_vvsfan, maybe, but last time we only had Hilf and Sid v1.0 and Johnson. This time we have Hilf and Sid v2.1 and Starcy.

  • VivtheGreatest on October 29, 2012, 6:56 GMT

    @Cpt Meanster, Absolutely true man. Some people just believe their own hyperbole

  • ROXSPORT on October 29, 2012, 5:42 GMT

    @ screamingeagle : On the contrary, I think Ricky Ponting will do well.It is the back-up guys who have to support him. I am not so sure about Hussey,but the openers are going to struggle, Shane Watson's recent CL T20 exploits notwithstanding.

  • sachinanddravid on October 29, 2012, 5:02 GMT

    Very eager to see the test match between the two strongest team.Aus is having very good pace attack but when compared to Steyn and Morkel they are bit behind.and the result will be 2-0 on SA favour.but hope that aus ll not leave the s.africans to get that very easily.

    comeon Dale I want you to get five wkts atleast in every innings.

    Good Luck SA.

  • D.V.C. on October 29, 2012, 3:13 GMT

    @BG4Cricket: We could have a longer series if they started early in Cairns or Darwin.

  • solankibhavesh on October 29, 2012, 2:58 GMT

    RSA and AUS both are good team and both team have good test player in their side so we will watch good test Cricket in coming time and its very tough to defate AUS in Australia and when any team go to the downunder to it has a lots of pressure to perfome well in different weather condition and both team are familiar with the weather so its quite difficult for both team

  • BG4cricket on October 28, 2012, 22:18 GMT

    There will never again be a long Test series between AUS and SA as both nations domestic seasons are at the same time so we will need to get used to it. A shame certainly but it will be a ferociously fought series. This will be a make or break series for Cowan in particular if he is to get to the Ashes and he will be critical to whether Ponting and Hussey thrive as well by blunting the SA quicks. Brisbane and Perth will be big tests

  • Cpt.Meanster on October 28, 2012, 20:42 GMT

    @AStyle: hahahahahaha.... what a hilarious comment. It is true both SA and AUS could struggle to win in India. But, as Indian fans, we both should be frightened at our team's weaknesses which outweigh the strengths by light years. We haven't disposed off England yet, so I would be quiet till that happens at least.

  • sachin_vvsfan on October 28, 2012, 18:16 GMT

    @RandyOZ but SA won in Aus last time :)

  • on October 28, 2012, 17:01 GMT

    Still irritated that RSA get only 3 Tests matches against AUS, as they did with ENG a few months ago. These Series absolutely should get icon status.

  • screamingeagle on October 28, 2012, 16:59 GMT

    I get the feeling Ponting might be in for a horror series. Having said that, the pace attacks would be quite a matchup. Not sure about the Aussie batting, SA batting might also falter if Amla cools off. All in all a pretty good match up in store. :)

  • RandyOZ on October 28, 2012, 16:42 GMT

    If they couldn't beat us at home they have zero chance here.

  • TaylorSwift on October 28, 2012, 16:42 GMT

    In my opinion, SA go in as favourites. However, that was also the case last time these two teams met, but the Aussies managed a 1-1 draw. I predict a 1-1 draw again. Eagerly awaiting a closely fought series.

  • Kohli_DaBest on October 28, 2012, 14:48 GMT

    LOL SA will thrash these Aussies left right and center!!! But fair to say neither team can beat India in India. Doesn't metter who wins this series, real challenge is defeating the mighty Indians in their own backyard!!! After toppling England in few weeks time, we're coming after both of you guys, be ready!!!!!

  • popcorn on October 28, 2012, 14:23 GMT

    I am very excited about the forthcoming three Test Series.Both Teams belong to the Southern Hemishere,so both will be familiar with the weather.I think both Teams are evely matched - Australia has a slight edge.

  • bumsonseats on October 28, 2012, 12:35 GMT

    its abit late to ask for a change, glad you got the same answer as you saffers would have given to them.

  • disco_bob on October 28, 2012, 12:21 GMT

    I'm not sure we're going see any nostalgic lavender scented willow wielding cap donning captains this series. This is going to be some dangerous, grinding, edge of the seat, toe to toe heavyweight hitting. Hopefully. I have a feeling that Punter is going to set this puppy ablaze.

  • Hardy1 on October 28, 2012, 12:21 GMT

    Starc, Cummins, Hilfenhaus, Siddle vs Steyn, Morkel, Philander, hopefully this will be more of a contest than South Africa vs England was.

  • Meety on October 28, 2012, 11:50 GMT

    @Marcio on (October 28 2012, 10:42 AM GMT) - regarding sending a team in at the Gabba, ask Nassir Hussain whether it's a goo idea! @spiritwithin on (October 28 2012, 10:03 AM GMT) - thankfully the Ozzy cricket team does not think like that, otherwise we'd call it off hey!

  • TheBengalTiger on October 28, 2012, 11:34 GMT

    why are there no cries of spirit of cricket now?

  • Marcio on October 28, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    Certainly SA deserve favouritism for the series, and Australian conditions won't be an issue for them, any more than SA conditions are issues for Australian touring teams. I think several Aussie batsmen will appreciate a return to hard fast pitches after so many series away on slow, spinning tracks. The toss in Brisbane will be extremely important, and of course the winner will bowl and pound the crud out of the other side. So the team batting first will be on the back foot (quite literally!) from the word go. Australia will need to get the best out of Warner and Cowan. If they have good series, then AUS have a decent chance. SA will rely on Steyn and Morkel as in the past. I don't expect Philander to be much more than a stock bowler in Australian conditions, with the possible exception being if SA bowl first in Brisbane. But his incredible run of luck in bowling endlessly on green seamers' tracks has to end sooner or later. Hopefully it will in Brisbane!

  • spiritwithin on October 28, 2012, 10:03 GMT

    the gap between SA & Aus is too much,after the tour to england the SA team has shown that they r here to stay at the top,their batsman r of far higher standards compared to aus who'll be in for a shock if they thinks that by beating india 4-0 their team is well prepared,the saffa batsman r have more quality while facing pacers and their attack comprising steyn,morkel & philander r superior to aus..SA will win by 2-0 if they plays to their potential

  • on October 28, 2012, 9:36 GMT

    Clash of titans,ultimate cricket.A test of everything,technique,nerves,endurance and all.T20 and IPL etc are kinder garden and rubbish.Welcome to real cricket.Pat Cummins,James Pattison and Mitchel Starc are future!!!

  • Essex_Man on October 28, 2012, 9:18 GMT

    @tinkertinker - Yes, I agree - SA's return from the past decade or so is very meagre considering the quality they've had in their side. Having said that, I would still expect them to beat the current Aussie side which simply doesn't have sufficient quality to trouble top players.

  • Shongololo on October 28, 2012, 8:33 GMT

    Mickey Arthur, given the team and players at his disposal, hugely underachieved during his reign. He should have had a record similar to John Buchanan's, another who was extremely fortunate that his time at the top coincided with a truly great Australian side. No, no need to lose sleep over Mickey Mouse. Should be a great series.

  • Khattak1978 on October 28, 2012, 8:15 GMT

    With the balance in the bowling attack of both teams, i can find that it will be test series of this decade. Although South African batting looks superior than that of australia but off course australia can avail home advantage. i am anxiously looking forward for the contest

  • matchfixerpkn on October 28, 2012, 8:05 GMT

    lot depends on smith,amla and kallis form..

  • landl47 on October 28, 2012, 6:13 GMT

    South Africa really aren't undercooked. Most of them have played some cricket in the last few weeks. However, I'm sure they could have used a little more time to prepare for the conditions. Once again it's sad to see what should be a great test match series held to only 3 games. Still, I'm looking forward to watching it.

  • rickyvoncanterbury on October 28, 2012, 5:21 GMT

    with so much anticipation of this series, I still think 3 tests against the saffers is enough, I still remember the hiding they have just given England and their confidence, and if on the other hand they stand up well they only need to win 2 tests to be number 1 and they still have 3 more tests to improve against Sri lanka with nothing on the line, remember the bigger prize is more than 3 tests.

  • on October 28, 2012, 5:02 GMT

    This is going to be a war.

  • jameswbourne on October 28, 2012, 2:14 GMT

    Patrick CUMMINS- I understand when television commentators pronounce his name incorrectly, but for a feature writer on such an esteemed website to spell it 'Cumming', like it is said by TV commentators who clearly can't read, simply shows a lack of attention to detail and, more staggeringly, a seeming ignorance of one of the world's most exciting young fast bowlers. Is this an overreaction? Was that one of the longest sentences ever written? Almost certainly. Point is this: it is Cummins. Or pronounced 'Cummens', if that makes it easier to remember.

  • disco_bob on October 28, 2012, 1:03 GMT

    @Ronaldus, yes I have to agree. Smith has dropped all the trash talking and has matured into a fine captain. It's a genuine shame that we have to relieve him of the No.1 ranking so soon, he deserved to enjoy it a bit longer ;¬)

  • disco_bob on October 28, 2012, 0:59 GMT

    It is somewhat ironic that the last series (SA ENG) and the current series (SA AUS) Involve the top 3 teams, and had/have the punters champing at the bit with the No. 1 ranking at stake in both series yet both series are only 3 games.

  • disco_bob on October 28, 2012, 0:53 GMT

    They are better off warming up in Sydney than at the Alan Border field.

  • Timmuh on October 28, 2012, 0:21 GMT

    It reslly is a testament to how poorly Test cricket is treated these days that South Africa have one three day tour match before this series. (And that the Aus A side chosen is an utter joke.) Teams really need a minimum of two four day games before a Test series like this. That T20 of all things is prioritised ahead of something of actual relevance to the sport is most damning of all. Its truly sickening how Test cricket is being diminished and demeaned by those who are supposed to responsible for the sport across the world.

  • royalankur07 on October 27, 2012, 21:12 GMT

    most awaited series of the year

  • promal on October 27, 2012, 20:01 GMT

    You have said that 6 South Africans, including Amla, de Villiers, JP Duminy, Peterson and Steyn haven't played any competitive cricket since returning from England. That is not entirely true, since these players did play in the World T20, although I guess you are not considering that "competitive cricket", which is understandable. But in that case, the CLT20 shouldn't be considered "competitive cricket" either.

  • Ronaldus on October 27, 2012, 19:41 GMT

    Hasn't Graeme Smith matured as a captain? Wholesome comments from a thorough professional!

  • tinkertinker on October 27, 2012, 19:41 GMT

    As an aussie i always feel we have a good shot against south africa even when they have the better team, take the last two series south africa were clearly the better team on paper and yet they came away with a loss in 2009 and a draw last time.

    The 2008 series remains south africa's only win against the aussies since readmission, a very poor return considering the teams they have had.

    On paper they should win this series and win it comfortably but that was true the last two series as well.

  • on October 27, 2012, 18:26 GMT

    It is unfortunate that Australia and South Africa only play a 3 test series. Too much on the line, but it will be hellofa series.

  • on October 27, 2012, 17:55 GMT

    absolutely...................he' gutsy nd very attacking captain who can turn the game not only wid bat but wid tactics too.....

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on October 27, 2012, 17:55 GMT

    absolutely...................he' gutsy nd very attacking captain who can turn the game not only wid bat but wid tactics too.....

  • on October 27, 2012, 18:26 GMT

    It is unfortunate that Australia and South Africa only play a 3 test series. Too much on the line, but it will be hellofa series.

  • tinkertinker on October 27, 2012, 19:41 GMT

    As an aussie i always feel we have a good shot against south africa even when they have the better team, take the last two series south africa were clearly the better team on paper and yet they came away with a loss in 2009 and a draw last time.

    The 2008 series remains south africa's only win against the aussies since readmission, a very poor return considering the teams they have had.

    On paper they should win this series and win it comfortably but that was true the last two series as well.

  • Ronaldus on October 27, 2012, 19:41 GMT

    Hasn't Graeme Smith matured as a captain? Wholesome comments from a thorough professional!

  • promal on October 27, 2012, 20:01 GMT

    You have said that 6 South Africans, including Amla, de Villiers, JP Duminy, Peterson and Steyn haven't played any competitive cricket since returning from England. That is not entirely true, since these players did play in the World T20, although I guess you are not considering that "competitive cricket", which is understandable. But in that case, the CLT20 shouldn't be considered "competitive cricket" either.

  • royalankur07 on October 27, 2012, 21:12 GMT

    most awaited series of the year

  • Timmuh on October 28, 2012, 0:21 GMT

    It reslly is a testament to how poorly Test cricket is treated these days that South Africa have one three day tour match before this series. (And that the Aus A side chosen is an utter joke.) Teams really need a minimum of two four day games before a Test series like this. That T20 of all things is prioritised ahead of something of actual relevance to the sport is most damning of all. Its truly sickening how Test cricket is being diminished and demeaned by those who are supposed to responsible for the sport across the world.

  • disco_bob on October 28, 2012, 0:53 GMT

    They are better off warming up in Sydney than at the Alan Border field.

  • disco_bob on October 28, 2012, 0:59 GMT

    It is somewhat ironic that the last series (SA ENG) and the current series (SA AUS) Involve the top 3 teams, and had/have the punters champing at the bit with the No. 1 ranking at stake in both series yet both series are only 3 games.

  • disco_bob on October 28, 2012, 1:03 GMT

    @Ronaldus, yes I have to agree. Smith has dropped all the trash talking and has matured into a fine captain. It's a genuine shame that we have to relieve him of the No.1 ranking so soon, he deserved to enjoy it a bit longer ;¬)