Arthur tips difficult tour for Australia after Symonds ban
Mickey Arthur believes the loss of Andrew Symonds will place tremendous pressure on Australia's already embattled batting line-up throughout the three-Test tour of South Africa. Arthur, the South Africa coach, identified Symonds and Matthew Hayden as the batsmen he most feared before the recently-completed tour of Australia.
With both players now out of the picture - Symonds has been stood down by Cricket Australia and Hayden retired last month - Arthur feels Ricky Ponting's men will face a mighty challenge to contend with a rampant South Africa pace attack without their enforcers. "I guess, if anything, it shows that we were on the right track with some of our planning." Arthur said.
"Australia is probably now in a position where it might have to select some untried players on what will be a difficult tour. The challenge will be for us to try to place them under pressure, as we did with Dave Warner in the one-day matches."
The absence of Hayden and Symonds will dramatically change the face of Australia's line-up for the return series in South Africa, which begins with the first Test on February 26. Both were viewed by Arthur as batsmen "who could take the game away from you in a session", and now leave the team with a void of experience and attacking options.
"I've always said that Andrew Symonds is a guy that we really respect," Arthur said. "He has a huge presence and is one of those guys who can really take a game away from you. It will be a big loss.
"Andrew, to us, looked like he was trying to prove a point every time he went out to bat. We were able to peg him back a few times, and when he did get away, like in Perth, he gave [his wicket] away."
Australia's selectors will meet on Wednesday to formalise the touring party for South Africa. The suspension of Symonds, coupled with the back injury to Shane Watson, will likely result in the Victorian allrounder Andrew McDonald retaining his place after he debuted in Sydney.
Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo