Australia in South Africa March 6, 2006

Richards tips Ashes repeat

Cricinfo staff

Barry Richards says Australia are vulnerable © Getty Images

Barry Richards believes Graeme Smith and South Africa can give Australia "a dose of the Ashes" when the three-Test series begins on March 16. Richards said the Proteas had a "real chance" of reversing the January result in Australia, especially with the visitors missing Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie.

"Even though Smith copped a hiding in Australia, he is strong-willed enough to bounce back and he has made it his mission to give Australia a dose of the Ashes," The Courier-Mail reported Richards writing in his internet diary. "Already Australia without McGrath, and inexplicably Jason Gillespie, have been found wanting. Their back-up bowling is not high class and South Africa have been quick to seize on that."

Richards also said the home batsmen were more comfortable facing Shane Warne than in previous years and bowling was not their only problem. "Australia are starting to look vulnerable in all facets of the game," he said. "No young batsmen are putting their hands up and the bowling stocks look worse."

Shane Watson, the allrounder who took two wickets in the second and third ODIs, said Australia would be a different proposition in the Tests. "It's pretty hard to read too much into the first couple of games," Watson said in The Courier-Mail after Friday's loss. "One-day cricket, you can turn it around so quickly, and we were playing pretty good cricket just a couple of weeks ago."