Australia v South Africa, 1st Test, Perth December 16, 2008

Australia bank on batting prowess

Stats preview to the first Test between Australia and South Africa in Perth


Ricky Ponting is the only batsman to score a century in each innings twice against South Africa © Getty Images
 
On current form South Africa will fancy their chances of putting it across Australia - the visitors have a 9-2 win-loss record in 2008 to Australia's 5-3 - but they'll first have to shake off their baggage of several losses that they've suffered there in the last 15 years. Since their readmission to Test cricket, South Africa have lost seven out of 12 Tests in Australia, winning just one, way back in January 1994 in Sydney. It's easily their worst overseas record against any side during this period - the only other team against whom they've lost more than they've won away is Sri Lanka.

Australia, on the other hand, will want to make amends for their last performance at the venue for the first Test, when India surprised them on what was a far easier-paced track than was anticipated in Perth. Though Australia have won five Tests at the WACA since 2000, it's also one of only three home venues where they have lost during this period.

Australia versus South Africa over the years
  Played Aus win SA win Draw
Overall 77 44 15 18
Since 1992 24 15 4 5
In Australia 32 19 5 8
In Australia since 1992 12 7 1 4

Plenty has been written and said about the performances of Jacques Kallis, South Africa's leading batsman, against Australia, and while his average is well below his career numbers, it's still better than most other South African batsmen in the squad. Neil McKenzie has done well, with three fifties - including a 99 - in 12 innings, but the rest, including their captain, have struggled.

South African batsmen against Australia
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Neil McKenzie 6 415 37.72 0/ 3
Jacques Kallis 17 1105 36.83 3/ 5
Ashwell Prince 9 546 30.33 1/ 1
Mark Boucher 12 558 26.57 0/ 4
Graeme Smith 7 344 24.57 0/ 1
AB de Villiers 6 279 23.25 0/ 3

Australia's top batsmen, on the other hand, have relished the South African attack - Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey average around 60 while for Hayden the number is very close to 50. The stats are especially remarkable for the Australian captain, who is the only batsman to twice score a century in each innings against South Africa.

Australian batsmen against South Africa
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Ricky Ponting 15 1535 63.95 7/ 6
Michael Hussey 6 536 59.55 1/ 4
Matthew Hayden 16 1369 48.89 6/ 5
Andrew Symonds 6 223 24.77 0/ 2

The record of Australia's batsmen in Perth is even scarier: the two Michaels, Clarke and Hussey, have identical averages of 60.80, while Hayden and Ponting both average more than 50. Ponting, though, has only converted one of his seven fifty-plus scores into a hundred at the WACA, a stat he'll surely want to improve upon over the next five days.

Australian batsmen in Perth
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Michael Hussey 3 304 60.80 1/ 2
Michael Clarke 3 304 60.80 1/ 1
Matthew Hayden 8 733 56.38 1/ 3
Ricky Ponting 12 876 51.52 1/ 6
Brett Lee 7 171 28.50 0/ 0
Andrew Symonds 3 144 24.00 0/ 1

The most experienced bowlers for both teams were born within nine months of each other, and have similar stats against the opposition. Brett Lee's 12 Tests against South Africa have fetched him 49 wickets at 30.26, which is a shade better than Makhaya Ntini's average of 31.41 for his 39 wickets in nine Tests against Australia.

South Africa's top-order batsmen have done much better against Lee than they have against the rest of the attack. Kallis and Prince both average more than 50, while de Villiers and Smith have a 35-plus average.

South African batsmen against Brett Lee
Batsman Runs Balls Dismissals Average Runs per over
Jacques Kallis 172 458 3 57.33 2.25
Ashwell Prince 110 244 2 55.00 2.70
AB de Villiers 131 229 3 43.66 3.43
Graeme Smith 109 196 3 36.33 3.33
Mark Boucher 107 194 4 26.75 3.30
Neil McKenzie 81 142 4 20.25 3.42

Against Ntini, Hussey and Ponting have excellent numbers, but Hayden has struggled to play the deliveries angling across him, falling to Ntini seven times at an average of 29.

Australian batsmen against Makhaya Ntini
Batsman Runs Balls Dismissals Average Runs per over
Michael Hussey 112 188 2 56.00 3.57
Ricky Ponting 217 302 4 54.25 4.31
Matthew Hayden 203 384 7 29.00 3.17
Andrew Symonds 26 68 1 26.00 2.29

Perth has traditionally been a favourite venue for fast bowlers, but overseas fast men haven't always adapted to the bounce and have struggled to find the right length. They concede nearly twice the number of runs per wicket, compared to home fast bowlers. Shaun Pollock is among the bowlers who couldn't get it right - in his only Test here he returned figures of 3 for 144.

Australia's spinners have done better too, though the difference isn't quite as stark.

Pace and spin at the WACA since 2000
  Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Overall Pace 8 187 34.88 62.2 6/ 0
Australia's pace 8 113 25.46 53.2 4/ 0
Overseas pace 8 74 49.25 75.9 2/ 0
Spin 8 54 41.57 76.1 2/ 0
Australia's spin 8 28 34.21 77.0 0/ 0
Overseas spin 8 26 49.50 75.1 2/ 0

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo