Western Australia v South Africans, Perth December 11, 2008

Heavyweights return for South Africa

Cricinfo staff


Dale Steyn will get a first-hand knowledge of conditions at the WACA during the two-day game © Getty Images
 

The focus will be on Dale Steyn, the leading wicket-taker in Tests this year, as South Africa play their final warm-up game - a two-day match against a Western Australia XI - at the WACA on Friday. Besides their lead bowler, South Africa will be boosted by the return of Graeme Smith and left-arm spinner Paul Harris, all of whom missed the one-dayer on Thursday due to injury niggles.

Steyn will be hoping to have a better start to the tour than fellow fast bowler Morne Morkel, who slipped while trying to deliver his first ball and in the process suffered a mild ankle strain. Morkel is unlikely to take the field for Friday's game but is expected to be fit in time for the first Test on December 17, also at the WACA.

"It is too early to make a call on the next step in his treatment," physiotherapist Shane Jabaar told Sapa. "Fortunately we got him off the field straight away before the injury could get any worse and applied an ice pack. We will have a better idea of his condition in the morning once the swelling has had the chance to subside.

"At this stage he is not considered a doubt for next week's first Test match."

Both teams will be allowed 12 players for the match (12 batting and 11 fielding), which will consist of 90 overs each day, with a compulsory declaration after the first 90 overs. For the visitors, it will be a like-for-like switch; Smith, Harris and Steyn taking the place of JP Duminy, Robin Peterson and Monde Zondeki.

Mickey Arthur, the South Africa coach, was pleased with the team's performance in the one-day game. South Africa strolled to 185 for 2 in their allotted 50 overs, and Western Australia replied with 215 for 4 off their 50. It effectively meant a seven-wicket loss for the South Africans, but Arthur was not too concerned.

"I thought we got as much out of the game as we could expect," he said. "Two players [Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis] had lengthy innings which meant that others had to miss out in a 50-overs game. However, we will counter this by moving Ashwell Prince and AB de Villiers up to Nos 3 and 4 when we get to bat in the next match.

"All of the bowlers had a couple of spells and the exercise was much better than spending an extra day in the nets."

Amla raked up a brisk 118-ball 105, with 15 fours. "By the time I came to the crease the openers had taken the shine off the ball and conditions were pretty good for batting," he said. "The ball came on to the bat at a nice pace and there was good reward for playing attacking strokes.

"The conditions were particularly difficult for spinners and, if the Test wicket is like this, then the spinners are likely to fill a defensive role. It will be difficult for them to attack with fielders around the bat."

Kallis was far more circumspect for his 52, putting on an unbroken 144 with Amla. "It was good to see both Jacques and Hashim showing top form so early in the tour," Prince, who led the team in Smith's absence, said. "I was generally pleased with the bowlers and I gave them all the opportunity to bowl both with the wind and into it to get used to conditions for the Test match."