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Former Australia captain, now a cricket commentator and columnist

South Africa's quicks need to be proactive in Adelaide

The pitch won't allow them to sit back and wait for the batsmen to make mistakes

Ian Chappell

November 18, 2012

Comments: 30 | Text size: A | A

Michael Clarke asks for a review, Australia v South Africa, first Test, Brisbane, November 9, 2012
Michael Clarke's attacking instincts will serve him well in Adelaide © Getty Images
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The South Africans should be wary of the Adelaide Test. They were extremely lacklustre at the Gabba, especially following the washed-out second day.

The two areas where they fell down badly were their bowling, which lacked venom, and tactical imagination. They sat back and waited for Australia to make mistakes, and against good sides that ploy usually backfires.

Adelaide might be known as the city of churches but it can be most unwelcoming for fast bowlers who aren't prepared to bend their back for long periods and stretch their imagination to the limits. Batsmen with a thirst for runs look forward to visiting Adelaide, not just because there are actually more pubs in the near vicinity of the oval than places of worship. The pitch is true and the bounce reliable for the first three days, and that's the time for batsmen to slake their thirst. After that, things start to get more interesting for bowlers. The bounce becomes variable, the ball occasionally deviates off the wearing sections of the pitch, and the spinners extract some turn.

That's why Test matches that appear for all money to be headed for a draw suddenly come alive at the tail-end. The second Test of the 2003-04 series against India is a classic example, where both teams amassed in excess of 500 in the first innings. Then, on a seemingly benign pitch, Ajit Agarkar led a second-innings heist and Rahul Dravid piloted India to an unlikely victory.

At the Gabba, the South Africans functioned like a badly tuned Model T Ford. While Graeme Smith seemed content to settle for a draw following a day lost to rain, Michael Clarke, as usual, was busy conjuring up ways to clinch victory. If Smith and the South African fast bowlers adopt a similar passive approach in the second Test, the chances of an Australian win will greatly increase.

South Africa's lack of variety in attack will be corrected by the inclusion of Imran Tahir for Adelaide. However, the absence of venom from their quicks will only be rectified by a concerted effort from Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. We hear how South Africa has the No. 1 attack in the world, but at the Gabba they appeared to lack a bowler to "shake up the opposition". Unless they are prepared to inject a bit more venom into their bowling in Adelaide, the Australian batting line-up will continue to excel.

Smith has to be more proactive. Adelaide has the sort of pitch where you need to try a few things to get into the batsman's mind and create doubt. Sitting back, waiting for errors of judgement, won't work. On the evidence of Brisbane, Clarke has a big advantage over Smith in this regard.

Australia's biggest dilemma is whether to include the injury-prone Shane Watson for a Test where having bowling options will be invaluable. Cricket Australia is correct to have reservations about Watson's ability to get through a Test physically - either as an allrounder or as a specialist batsman - but it's ridiculous when it calls into question his right to a lofty ranking on the list of Australia's best batsmen. Watson is a high-class player of fast bowling, and while his penchant for quickfire 60s may not win games, it can set the team on the early road to victory. It's simple arithmetic: the longer bowlers have to take 20 wickets, the greater the chances of victory.

The Australian bowlers at the Gabba, particularly James Pattinson and Peter Siddle, displayed more passion than their South African counterparts. Pattinson and Siddle are both capable of explosive spells where they test the technique and temperament of the opposition batsmen, and there's a call for this style of bowling at the Adelaide Oval. It helps that Clarke, with his intuitive, proactive captaincy, is quick to sense the right time for such an onslaught.

Incredibly, after a pedestrian first day's bowling and a top-order collapse, Australia took the psychological honours from the drawn Brisbane Test. Clarke's captaincy, as much as his fluent strokeplay, was responsible for that tremendous turnaround, and a repeat performance in Adelaide will see Australia take the lead in the series.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator and columnist

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Posted by enigma77543 on (November 21, 2012, 16:31 GMT)

@paps123, just because most of the English batsmen can't handle a little spin & your 120km/h trundlers can't get wickets unless conditions help them, doesn't mean the "pitches are poor". The damn pitch didn't even turn that much, it was mostly flat & a better team with better batting & bowling skills would have easily drawn the Test! And if Indian pitches are so easy to bat on & Indian batsmen so pathetic then why do English & many other foreign batsmen struggle to score in India???? English players simply don't know how to bat & bowl in sub-continental conditions, just as much as sub-continental don't struggle to do that in Eng & other places where the ball moves &/or bounces; the only difference is that sub-continental teams don't whine about "poor pitches" in Eng, Aus, SA, etc. Besides, as somebody has said, both teams have to play on the same 22-yards & the better team wins, so stop whining & learn to admit the fact English aren't good enough in these conditions!

Posted by Greatest_Game on (November 20, 2012, 20:24 GMT)

Ian Chappel justifiably criticises SA's Gabba flat-track failure, but is unfairly suggestive when writing "We hear how South Africa has the No. 1 attack in the world." We DO hear this, but from whom? Not the ICC - they list No.1 teams & players, but not attacks. We don't (often) hear the claim by players & administrators. Yes, occasionally egotistic autobiographers & ignorant administrators err when prodded by the press, but....

"The No.1 attack" is a media label. It is Journalists who bestow the empty epithet, employing it erroneously to add 'weight' to wispy content. When usage is clearly unjustified, they simply add 'arguably' to the label, happily substituting opinion for empirical evidence! (Arguably, they are untruthful!)

Mr. Chappel: daily we hear this from journalists, & today, even from you. However, the players - in this case the Saffers - are not the source, & thus it is unfair to judge their play using this meaningless title. Don't blame the team for a media meme!

Posted by silverhawk on (November 20, 2012, 11:22 GMT)

Test match is not all about great batting and great bowling, these are conventional tactics to get the game, but the five day match needs more things to be considered. First of all combination of team always matter in test matches. Every team needs to include verity in bowling. Though conditions are being changing rapidly on the field due the excessive cricket but still people believe that a balance bowling side could make a difference. Quality fast bowlers and at least one quality spinner, especially leggy would make a difference. Now come to other side, Captaincy, off course the most crucial department to be handled and fulfilled with all its requirements. When two teams seem to be equal in all terms then there comes captaincy that finds the loop holes in other teams batting. Giving a ball to the right bowler at right time would come up with lot of goods. No need to wait for the mistakes, go and make them commit that mistakes..

Posted by raghavan88 on (November 20, 2012, 2:12 GMT)

In 2008 SA routed India at Motera and earlier this year SA thrashed England at the Oval.Steyn destroyed India for 76 at Motera and ABD made a 200.Against England,the bowlers came back after an ordinary day 1,Amla,Kallis and Smith flattened the English attack and Tahir outbowled Swann.Both tracks are similar to Adelaide,slow in nature with bit of turn but batsman-friendly.So SA can win provided their batsmen make big scores and their bowlers show improvement in their performance from the Gabba.

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (November 19, 2012, 23:18 GMT)

South Africa should have the edge, but Michael Clarke and Hussey are enough to make it equal. Especially Clarke. His form has been godly in the last year and he seems like a very determined captain. Apart from Mahela, I think Clarke is probably one of the best captains in cricket today. (Dhoni way too overrated in captaincy but he is a great ODI captain)

Posted by RandyOZ on (November 19, 2012, 17:19 GMT)

Australia will win easily. Hussey and Clarke to score doubles.

Posted by Bollo on (November 19, 2012, 9:30 GMT)

@tariq Wani - not sure about Aus being saved by `one brave individual effort` as you put it - centuries to Cowan, Clarke and Hussey and Pattinson the best bowler on display...

Posted by paps123 on (November 19, 2012, 6:33 GMT)

Whatever said & done, both Australia and SA have an equal chance of winning which is not the case in the IND- ENG series where bcoz of poor pitches having nothing for English fast bowlers with the new ball, 2 or 3 poor Indian players will look like top batsman. Pitches make a contest or make it lack lustre as in sub continent

Posted by Alexk400 on (November 19, 2012, 0:50 GMT)

SA bowling rely on Steyn but steyn getting non effective in flat pitches. Philander will have GODLY stats but he will disappear when his team needs him. Morkel can pick up few wickets. They really need a "super fast" bowler to compllement steyn. That said pliander may pick up tons of easy wickets and stats. he is not one SA should rely on him crunch time. Clarke is dummy against real fast bowler who can bowl chest height. He is only indian batsman in aussie line up. :). I think what i think SA should do attack the batsman as a team and find the thing batsman least want to do. Make batsman play uncomfortable shots.. Evey on have center of gravity they lean towards that and make them do opposite of what they are comfortable. People talk about length all the time. It kinda over rated concept. It is not length is the issue it is length that batsman uncomfortable means...bowlers ability change length after batsman made his move make a bowler great bowler.

Posted by Alexk400 on (November 19, 2012, 0:33 GMT)

SA supposed to be number 1 team with great batting with great bowler. I feel like they never peaked because of multi culture. Something make them docile. They are not fighting hard. I meant they are not planning that well. That said smith captaincy , clarke captaincy and dhoni captaincy all same. All luck based. Same guys will look clueless and without ideas when they start losing. They all are roosters in chinese astrology. They are best leaders but you can't expect them be shrewd. Thats not their reportiere. They are solid. They always have united team when they win. Clarke is marginally better because of aussie fighting spirit. If you make the team to be pure athletic and match of mental toughness , aussies win most games. SA lacks that extra where someone bring their X factor. Great all rounders had that extra , they will the team to win in many case by sheer ability. SA lacks that powerful alll rounder. Kallis is more of all batting all rounder than the impact bowling all rounder

Posted by MattyP1979 on (November 19, 2012, 0:02 GMT)

Aus played very well, SA with 10 men didn't....result draw. Clarke is on fire atm both as a captain and batsman but Chappel is off his collective head if he thinks Aus are going to walk away from this series winners. Looking forward to the next match and I hope for another close contest but for me Aus cannot improve from the last test where SA WILL.

Posted by dunger.bob on (November 18, 2012, 23:38 GMT)

Adelaide is such a weird cricket pitch. Every test there seems to drift along aimlessly for 3 or 4 days and, even though we know what the place is like, just about everyone says THIS ones gotta be a draw. .. then bang, bang, bang and suddenly it turns into another thrilling finish. I've seen it too many times to think it won't happen again. . I reckon a lot depends on how the Aussies handle Tahir. If they can cope with him OK it will throw the pressure right on Steyn, Morkel and co-stars. On the other hand, if Tahir gets wickets Dale and his mates could have a field-day. .. I'm worried about the Aussie top order batting. They can't keep expecting Clarke to score big,big runs and dig them out of trouble. I kind of expect them to be 3/40 these days. Wouldn't it be nice to have a 100+ opening stand now and then. .. re Watto. I suppose he's in the top 10 Aussie batsmen, but I'm not sure he's in the top 6. If he can't bowl I'd be inclined to give Quinney another run. He looks a cricketer

Posted by Greatest_Game on (November 18, 2012, 19:07 GMT)

@vick122. Is the presence of world class players in the SA side also responsible for the overrated player Smith having a 4 plus runs better average, and scoring more runs in less innings, than M. Waugh, Langer, Taylor, Boon, etc. He has a 7 run better ave than his critic Ian Chappel. Smith, Clarke & Hussey - today's players - have averages within 1 run of each other, yet Clark & Hussey have had the benefit of more world class players in their team. Does that then mean that Smith is better?

Smith of course did have the presence of Kallis, who been the world's best batsman & all-rounder since Smith started playing in 2002. Can't deny that having Kallis around helps any skipper!

Posted by Stark62 on (November 18, 2012, 18:54 GMT)

The truth is, SA don't have the "best" attack in world but they do have the best PACE bowling in the world.

For example, who would be more successful on spinning tracks: Steyn, Morkel and philander or Ajmal, Rehman and Hafeez?!?!

SA don't have a quality spinner in their armoury, hence the reason why they might struggle on flat tracks.

Posted by Thamara on (November 18, 2012, 16:38 GMT)

I still think that SA bowling attack is good enough to take 20 Australian wickets. Because, in my opinion, they have the best bowling attack at the moment. But Adelaide pitch will not help south Africans as much as Gabba pitch did. For second test match, I think that they should include a genuine spinner to the XI because Adelaide pitch always help spinners to some extent.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2012, 16:20 GMT)

It is absolutely ridiculous to blame the SA or their Captain about their performance in the previous Test.Aussies were saved by the one brave individual effort.I must not forget that Saffers scored plenty in the first innings and in fact couple of their batters scored centuries.and while in Aussies batting their top order was blown up by some good bowling.I dont understand why Aussies especially their former players are making so much noise from this drawn test

Posted by Dirk_L on (November 18, 2012, 14:31 GMT)

@vick122: As an SA supporter, I really hope you have some influence with the Aussie management. It's a big plus for a team when its captain is deemed by the opposition to be overrated. Maybe Nasser Hussain, Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss were advised by people who also had that blinding insight. I'll agree with you on one point, though: Smith's success is based on having world-class players in his team. One of them is a left-handed opening batsman, currently officially rated among the top 10 batsmen in the world, who has scored 8347 runs in 103 tests at 49.39, with a strike rate of 59.68.

Posted by savageboy on (November 18, 2012, 14:11 GMT)

The South African attack may not be the best attack of all time, but at the moment who is better than them? @jamesthewalldravid, steyn has one of the best pace bowling records in the subcontinent which are mostly flat or spinners wickets.

Posted by Jaffa79 on (November 18, 2012, 12:36 GMT)

I think the Aussies should bring back Mitchell Johnson and give him a long run in the side.

Posted by kickittome70 on (November 18, 2012, 12:17 GMT)

The Aussies were saved by some amazing individual efforts. Smith is up against a far better skipper but us Aussies have our own problems - 2 bowlers are badly out of form plus a third is only OK. WE have issues with Ponting being picked as a legacy rather than on performance. He looked terrible in Brisbane. Cant think of why you would get rid of Warner except to balace to bowling mix. A non bowling Watson coming back at 3 means Quniey is cut along with his handy seamers - Adelaide slows right down and this would suit Quiney. Trundlers do OK in Adelaide. I dont think Cowan will repeat his amazing feats for a while, unfortunately. The Huss train just keeps rolling and Clarke is in the form of his life. I feel that SA with Duminy at 7 were quite formidable but they dont look as good with possibly Du Plessis there. I cannot see guys like Steyn, Philander and Morkel staying down for too long. And Kallis can contribute. The toss will be critical for these two evenly matched teams.

Posted by peeeeet on (November 18, 2012, 12:04 GMT)

@Paulk - I think what Chapelli tries to say is that there are captains who try to make something happen and those that wait for something to happen. You're right in saying that there's times to defend but you can play defensively and still have a plan to get someone out. He is saying that Smith and SA just let the game drift on without clear plans while Clarke is willing to try the odd different thing (which is ironic that he's praising this tactic when during the game he said Clarke had to keep it simple). I agree with him that captains should be aggressive and imaginative, but frankly on that pitch and with the way Pup batted I don't think there's much else you could do (except bowl less no balls!)

Posted by JamesTHEwalldravid on (November 18, 2012, 10:45 GMT)

Dale Steyn is best bowler in the world by fare. With that said I was quite disappointed with his display in the last match. It is on a flat pitches that the true quality of a bowler is tested and the one criticism of Steyn is that he picks up most of his wickets on helpful tracks. It's not that he can't take wickets on flat tracks. He can and he has in the past, but he needs to show it more often. Also what irritates me is that he keeps talking about bowling faster. He keeps saying that he wants to bowl 150 clicks every ball. Every few months he either says that in an interview of in his column in the newspaper. He is quick and can be express. He is smart and uses his skills instead of relying on pure pace all the time. With that said too often he falls flat and does not increase his pace when encountered with a situation where the Saffers need to shake up the batsman and really attack. I hope he does better because I am fan of him at his best.

Posted by potofazherbaizan on (November 18, 2012, 8:58 GMT)

@HatsforBats I definitely agree that Starc should be in. Drop Hilfenhaus. He was less than average in Brisbane and has lost everything he gained last summer.

Posted by mike.iz on (November 18, 2012, 8:05 GMT)

Adelaide just a road!!!Gotta keep it simple. Set field straight, catches in front of the wicket and bowl bowl straight to attack & can be form of diffidence or pack one side of the filed & bowl wide will keep the runs down & hope for mistake. Who ever bowls fast men or spinners discipline & patience is the what you need for success.On Shane Watson should play if he is fit to bat...he;s a boundary hitter & doesn't run much sake fielder so he should play.Also he brings an CONSISTENT X-factor at the top if the order...Hoping for a cracker @ Adelaide!

Posted by Paulk on (November 18, 2012, 7:40 GMT)

With all due respect to Ian Chappell, frankly I find his opinions to be rather one dimensional. Attack attack attack !! That is not going to work all the time and you have to go defensive if the opposition batsmen play as superbly as they did in the first Test. That does not happen all the time...once in a while from 40 for 3, you run into 2-3 batsmen who play out of their minds and you go defensive. Another time from 40 for 3, you may be able to keep the pressure on, the momentum stays with you and the other team may be all out for 160. One test is way too soon to be passing all kinds of judgments around on captaincy etc etc.

Posted by RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on (November 18, 2012, 7:39 GMT)

fantastic article

Posted by vick122 on (November 18, 2012, 7:33 GMT)

smith is such an overrated captain and player.. one of the worst captains ever.. ppl mite argue tht he has been the longest serving captain and won so many test matches but its largely due to the presence of world class players in his side than his captaincy..

Posted by SamRoy on (November 18, 2012, 7:03 GMT)

I think Adelaide will end in a draw if both teams bat to their full potential. It's Adelaide after all!

Posted by HatsforBats on (November 18, 2012, 3:59 GMT)

I can't help but agree with Chappell here. SA were lacklustre, though Morkel showed some ticker by bending his back in his spells, and they won't be getting more assistance in Adelaide than they did at the gabba. Likewise Aus will need more discipline than they showed in Brisbane. It would be nice for Lyon to have Starc's footprints to bowl at too.

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Ian Chappell Widely regarded as the best Australian captain of the last 50 years, Ian Chappell moulded a team in his image: tough, positive, and fearless. Even though Chappell sometimes risked defeat playing for a win, Australia did not lose a Test series under him between 1971 and 1975. He was an aggressive batsman himself, always ready to hook a bouncer and unafraid to use his feet against the spinners. In 1977 he played a lead role in the defection of a number of Australian players to Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket, which did not endear him to the administrators, who he regarded with contempt in any case. After retirement, he made an easy switch to television, where he has come to be known as a trenchant and fiercely independent voice.

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