South Africa A v Australians, Potchefstroom, 3rd day November 3, 2011

Australians get hostile initiation despite win

27

South Africa A have played their part in softening Australia up ahead of the two-Test series against the senior side next week. Although Australia won the four-day tour match in Potchefstroom with more than a day to spare, their batsmen did not have maximum time in the middle on a lively pitch, which offered plenty of assistance to the bowlers.

"We don't want a red carpet rolled out with a white wicket and teams come and bat for three days," Vincent Barnes, South Africa High Performance and A team coach, said. "That's why we batted first. The wicket looked a bit sporty but we felt we wanted to bat twice and give them [Australia] as little time as possible in the middle so they leave here a bit undercooked."

Australia's quicks, particularly Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle, enjoyed the seamer-friendly pitch, which saw them bowl South Africa A out for 183 before tea on the first day. In a low-scoring match, Australia were then dismissed for 236 and no team was able to score more than 264 in an innings.

Thirteen wickets fell on both the first and second day before the pitch flattened and dried on the third, with Australia getting the easier batting conditions as they neared victory. South Africa A were not too disappointed by their defeat, saying the manner in which it was achieved will probably give the country a headstart in the psychological battle.

"We didn't want them to take as much as they could out of the game," Barnes said. "One or two of them are still walking around thinking 'I haven't really had good preparation in this game,' especially a guy like Ponting." Ponting scored 31 runs in the match and did not have enough time to play himself in or enjoy a decent knock.

Far from being hospitable hosts, the South Africa A side were openly hostile in the field. The South African fielders were not short of a word throughout Australia's chase and made it clear that the battle lines had been drawn, even though the series is a shortened, two-match one.

"That's our responsibility; to make sure these guys go into the Test series feeling a bit underdone," Alviro Petersen, South Africa A captain, said, "We wanted to make sure that they know playing in South Africa is going to be hard work."

Petersen, who was dropped from the Test squad to make room for Jacques Rudolph, grafted out 103 in tough conditions and had some advice to pass on to the national batsmen. "Their bowlers, when they get a bit tired, it's easier to score off them," he said. "They also don't have a world class spinner, although the spinner that they do have, there's something there."

Barnes was more bullish about South Africa's ability to handle the Australian attack. "We are in a better position against their bowlers," he said, adding that the key match-up in the Test series will be between both team's pace bowlers and that South Africa have the edge. "Our bowlers are better in our conditions and I believe our batters can handle their attack."

Mitchell Johnson, who finished the match with nine-wickets and resumed a profitable relationship with South African pitches, was identified as the biggest threat. "He can change a game in one session, he showed it here this morning" Petersen said. Johnson ripped through South Africa's tail with three wickets in five overs in the first hour and Petersen felt he was probably the leading bowler for Australia at this stage.

While South Africa A saw their main task as sizing up the opposition ahead of an important Test series, Barnes described their role a "two-fold," with their second component to analyse the resources in the country. "It showed us that the cupboards are not bare," Barnes said.

He was particularly heartened by the bowling options he saw, with 21-year-old Marchant de Lange stealing the headlines with his five-for in Australia's first innings. "Marchant has come and bowled unbelievably well. He's got a long way to go and a lot to learn but he showed us that there is something there," Barnes said. "He just pulled Wayne Parnell with him. That's the best I've seen Wayne bowl in first-class cricket." Parnell was aggressive and used the bouncer to good effect. He has been seen as an outside contender for the Test squad, having never completed a full season of first-class cricket in South Africa, because of his international commitments.

Vernon Philander, who has been included in the Test squad, is, according to Barnes "ready to play." Philander will compete with Lonwabo Tsotsobe for the third seamers' spot and Barnes expects it to be tough for the selectors to choose between them, especially since Philander has taken 80 wickets in the previous two seasons of first-class cricket.

"Vern is a highly skillful bowler. If there's anything in the wicket, he is going to exploit it. He also has added advantage of batting," Barnes said. With the first Test at Newlands, Philander's hunting ground, Barnes said he won't be surprised to see Philander get his first cap. "You might want to use somebody who has played there for most of his career."

Barnes also had a compliment for Petersen, who has handled his rejection with classy composure. "That's one of the better 100s I've seen in a while under the conditions and the bowling," he said. Petersen, on the other hand, chose not to dwell on being dropped. "I think Jacques Rudolph played really well in the last year or two and I think he deserves his call up," he said. "I was just the unfortunate one to be left out."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • thirdmanboundary on November 4, 2011, 13:31 GMT

    I'd like to see Tsolekile (who is batting and keeping superbly) and Alviro replace Boucher and Smith, who are past their prime. That might be alarming for the fast bowlers, suddenly replacing both the keeper and first slip, but it needs to be done. Duminy isn't looking altogether comfortable, but his ability to be a second spinner gives him, at Newlands, a slight advantage over Prince. But if De Villiers remains injured (and it concerns me that he has had so little time in the middle), both Duminy and Prince get to play. Incidentally, and entirely on merit, this scenario would result in South Africa's first team in which players of color are the majority (Alviro, Amla, Tsolekile, Prince, Duminy, Lopsy, and Tahir). That's great for creating diverse role models for upcoming players. I include Tahir as a pertinent player of color even though he was born abroad. In the UK, they never bothered to differentiate between black English players born in England and those born in WI. Why shld SA?

  • RJHB on November 4, 2011, 8:11 GMT

    This sort of rubbish is why SA cricket is still not ready to be the best in the world and probably never will be! I get why they wanted to deny the Aussies some more batting practice but they also denied their own batsmen the opportunity to smack around the Aussie bowling and give them something to think about. And then to be a little smug about it, despite losing the game? Wierd! Guess we'll just have to respond in kind when you guys come back to Australia with a Gabba greentop and a Perch trampoline!

  • jonesy2 on November 4, 2011, 7:53 GMT

    also the sledging bit was funny. do they not realise this is an aussie team with the likes of ponting, clarke, harris, haddin and siddle? some of the best sledgers around.

  • on November 4, 2011, 7:15 GMT

    AUSTRALIA WILL WIN THE SERIES 1-0,SOUTH AFRICA TRADITIONALLY UNDER PRESURE PLAYING AUSSIES

  • lien on November 4, 2011, 5:44 GMT

    "give them as little time in the middle".They only needed a little time in the middle to win comprehensively.The only way you undercook the opposition is by beating them. SA A were not unhappy with the defeat - what on earth is that about.The coach is supposed to be preparing these youngsters for international cricket and they not unhappy about been beaten so comprehensively. One can only shake one's head at the comments made.

  • Nihontone on November 4, 2011, 5:43 GMT

    Hahahahaha. That's awesome. I needed a good giggle after a hard week. Hmmm...SA 'A' really stuck it to Australia. I mean, they really roughed them up. I'm sure the Australians are shaking in their boots.!

  • sachin_vvsfan on November 4, 2011, 5:10 GMT

    This may backfire.This reminds me of the durban match against INDIA. Amla went on to say that they wanted to wrap up the series by that second match (on a doctored pitch that gives the result in 3 days). Someone like Ryan harris may do more damage on that day than the likes of steyn,morkel. Just 2-3 quick wickets and SA will choke. Series for Aussies.

  • redneck on November 4, 2011, 5:08 GMT

    whats the problem with the pitch? a bit of bounce in the wicket should be applauded! im with RandyOz, south africa playing mind games never works for them. i recon that south africa will try to prepair a raging turner in capetown to utilise there 1 advantage. no point dishing out wickets to suit steyn and co as that will suit aus even more!

  • on November 4, 2011, 4:57 GMT

    South Africa should remember that the only time they won against Australia post admission was when they arrived in Australia and didnt mouth off how they are going to beat them. Hope the team can back this up otherwise they will look like chumps

  • farkin on November 4, 2011, 1:32 GMT

    a bad cricket pitch could you not call that match fixing !

  • thirdmanboundary on November 4, 2011, 13:31 GMT

    I'd like to see Tsolekile (who is batting and keeping superbly) and Alviro replace Boucher and Smith, who are past their prime. That might be alarming for the fast bowlers, suddenly replacing both the keeper and first slip, but it needs to be done. Duminy isn't looking altogether comfortable, but his ability to be a second spinner gives him, at Newlands, a slight advantage over Prince. But if De Villiers remains injured (and it concerns me that he has had so little time in the middle), both Duminy and Prince get to play. Incidentally, and entirely on merit, this scenario would result in South Africa's first team in which players of color are the majority (Alviro, Amla, Tsolekile, Prince, Duminy, Lopsy, and Tahir). That's great for creating diverse role models for upcoming players. I include Tahir as a pertinent player of color even though he was born abroad. In the UK, they never bothered to differentiate between black English players born in England and those born in WI. Why shld SA?

  • RJHB on November 4, 2011, 8:11 GMT

    This sort of rubbish is why SA cricket is still not ready to be the best in the world and probably never will be! I get why they wanted to deny the Aussies some more batting practice but they also denied their own batsmen the opportunity to smack around the Aussie bowling and give them something to think about. And then to be a little smug about it, despite losing the game? Wierd! Guess we'll just have to respond in kind when you guys come back to Australia with a Gabba greentop and a Perch trampoline!

  • jonesy2 on November 4, 2011, 7:53 GMT

    also the sledging bit was funny. do they not realise this is an aussie team with the likes of ponting, clarke, harris, haddin and siddle? some of the best sledgers around.

  • on November 4, 2011, 7:15 GMT

    AUSTRALIA WILL WIN THE SERIES 1-0,SOUTH AFRICA TRADITIONALLY UNDER PRESURE PLAYING AUSSIES

  • lien on November 4, 2011, 5:44 GMT

    "give them as little time in the middle".They only needed a little time in the middle to win comprehensively.The only way you undercook the opposition is by beating them. SA A were not unhappy with the defeat - what on earth is that about.The coach is supposed to be preparing these youngsters for international cricket and they not unhappy about been beaten so comprehensively. One can only shake one's head at the comments made.

  • Nihontone on November 4, 2011, 5:43 GMT

    Hahahahaha. That's awesome. I needed a good giggle after a hard week. Hmmm...SA 'A' really stuck it to Australia. I mean, they really roughed them up. I'm sure the Australians are shaking in their boots.!

  • sachin_vvsfan on November 4, 2011, 5:10 GMT

    This may backfire.This reminds me of the durban match against INDIA. Amla went on to say that they wanted to wrap up the series by that second match (on a doctored pitch that gives the result in 3 days). Someone like Ryan harris may do more damage on that day than the likes of steyn,morkel. Just 2-3 quick wickets and SA will choke. Series for Aussies.

  • redneck on November 4, 2011, 5:08 GMT

    whats the problem with the pitch? a bit of bounce in the wicket should be applauded! im with RandyOz, south africa playing mind games never works for them. i recon that south africa will try to prepair a raging turner in capetown to utilise there 1 advantage. no point dishing out wickets to suit steyn and co as that will suit aus even more!

  • on November 4, 2011, 4:57 GMT

    South Africa should remember that the only time they won against Australia post admission was when they arrived in Australia and didnt mouth off how they are going to beat them. Hope the team can back this up otherwise they will look like chumps

  • farkin on November 4, 2011, 1:32 GMT

    a bad cricket pitch could you not call that match fixing !

  • Marcio on November 4, 2011, 1:30 GMT

    At first I thought this article was taking the micky, you know a tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted poke in the ribs. But it actually seems to be serious! Not exactly a great way to begin proceedings, and I dare say if the pitch was doctored for that purpose it runs close to being against the spirit of the game. Warm up matches are provided for the touring team to prepare for the upcoming games, not to provide the home team with advantages. For the last Ashes tour AUS gave England several warm up games in good conditions, played in the right spirit, which is standard. If they had prepared a land-mine ridden pitch deliberately then that would have been poor sportsmanship. As for the alleged sledging, again a bit strange in a warm-up game. I know the Australian team have been deliberately trying to cut out, or at least minimise, that aspect of the game for the last 3 years. But if they go that way I'm sure Ponting can pull out a few old favourites from the sledging file to fire back ;

  • loudmouth on November 3, 2011, 22:42 GMT

    Nice one coach! Looks like our friend Vinny Barnes is looking to get some quotes in the press to up his chances of landing the big job in SA cricket. Good luck to him. I remember the good old days when Graham Smith used to mouth off about the Aussies only to find egg on his face! I guess I just don't trust predictions anymore. Prior to the 2009 Ashes in England everyone predicted Johnson would be a match winner and Phil Hughes would keep scoring tons. And look what happened. Eng 2 -1. Then people suggested SA couldn't possibly beat Australia in Australia and look what happened. SA 2 - 1. Then when SA hosted the Aussies apparently it was going to be more SA victories but then look what happened. Aus 2 - 1. This series will do the exact opposite of everyone's predictions. Everyone's saying the two teams are close and it will be a real contest. I'm saying it will all be one way traffic and the series will be a comprehensive 2 - 0. I just can't decide which team will be doing the damage!

  • RandyOZ on November 3, 2011, 22:04 GMT

    Haha South Africa is dreaming. This is just another stepping stone to #1 status. It will be 2-0 easy. I predict at least one innings win with Huss scoring a double ton. Hoping haddin fails so we can dump this utter deadweight!

  • Number_5 on November 3, 2011, 21:12 GMT

    lol..gotta love the passion the SAf show. This sort of preparation is just what Australia would want heading into a two test series, tricky pitch, hostile conditions, we should be thanking their coach. It really is a pity this is only a two test series (who;s idea was that??) as it is shaping up to be a wonderfully entertaining series on many levels, bat, bowl, on field, off field, test cricket and cricket, at its best.

  • kishore122 on November 3, 2011, 20:22 GMT

    Phew... its not how you win... worked hard and won or won easily .... or won by one wicket or by all 10.. winning is winning.... wierd that they even account the loss to a game plan....

  • bumsonseats on November 3, 2011, 19:48 GMT

    if SA think that was the way to go in a pre test game im baffled. sure if the wickets iffy, u put the team in, u bowl them out, bat big and try to put the visitors under pressure. im not sure what they were trying to do. ausssie to win 1 - 0. dpk

  • er.crick_freak on November 3, 2011, 18:16 GMT

    never heard nything like dis as a an explanation to defeat......

  • Peterincanada on November 3, 2011, 18:02 GMT

    It was a comprehensive win. Johnson seemed to be able to take a wicket whenever he wanted. Ponting and Hughes a bit of a concern though. Hughes may be underdone but Ponting is looking overdone.

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on November 3, 2011, 17:26 GMT

    I would have thought a higher intensity game would be of much more use to Australia ,even if some players didnt get the chance for runs, rather than a leisurely picnic match. The nature of tours these days means that most teams have few warm up games so they just have to get on with it. That said we should take the word of the S Africans. They did of course win a home series against Australia a mere 41 years ago so the right way to go about things must be fresh in the memory.

  • Force01 on November 3, 2011, 17:18 GMT

    Really looking forward to this series. Two extremely competent sides squaring up against each other. Its a real pity that the series has been truncated to two matches for something as insignificant as the Champions League. The ICC really needs to set its priorities straight.

  • Smithie on November 3, 2011, 17:14 GMT

    "no team was able to score more than 264 in an innings" derr because that is all Aus needed to win in their second dig! Are these comments by the coach for real ?

  • on November 3, 2011, 16:57 GMT

    AGREE 100% ........... with umar_amir_fawad on (November 03 2011, 16:31 PM GMT)

    South Africans digging their on grave!!!Never under-estimate Australia,...they are there to win!!!My prediction 1-0 to Aussies..

  • jonesy2 on November 3, 2011, 16:57 GMT

    also fairly disrespectful and completely naive words coming out of here. i look forward to australia winning this series 2-0. funny thing is "Our bowlers are better in our conditions and I believe our batters can handle their attack". um no mate thats probably the opposite in reality, australia's batsmen are better and australia's bowlers are better in SA conditions than SA bowlers, not by much but siddle, johnson, harris, cummins if he was to play would bowl better in SA than anywhere. not that SA's bowlers are not the same.

  • srivatsan on November 3, 2011, 16:53 GMT

    It does not matter if the opposition is roughed up!. Winning matches mean a lot, the winning team takes lot of confidence.

  • jonesy2 on November 3, 2011, 16:51 GMT

    pfff whatever, that was a completely dominant win for australia ahead of what is going to be a very good test series. the fact that MJ, siddle, watto, clarke and marsh are in splendid form means i think australia look the far better team heading into the series and the odds should be even. will be a brilliant series plenty of bouncers and tough cricket, have to be a tough competitor to score runs and it will be a good case of the best team will actually win.

  • on November 3, 2011, 16:33 GMT

    An Interesting and most probably the oldest trick in the book to strategically use the practice match before a test series to rough up the opposition. It seems like there is nothing special in here. But, its rarely we actually see the hosting team using all the advantages like the pitch, strategy etc (could be a coincidence) but it doesn't hurt to use the players waiting in the wings to be used against a quality opposition this well.

  • hypocrite on November 3, 2011, 16:31 GMT

    South Africans digging their on grave!!!Never under-estimate Australia,...they are there to win!!!My prediction 1-0 to Aussies..

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  • hypocrite on November 3, 2011, 16:31 GMT

    South Africans digging their on grave!!!Never under-estimate Australia,...they are there to win!!!My prediction 1-0 to Aussies..

  • on November 3, 2011, 16:33 GMT

    An Interesting and most probably the oldest trick in the book to strategically use the practice match before a test series to rough up the opposition. It seems like there is nothing special in here. But, its rarely we actually see the hosting team using all the advantages like the pitch, strategy etc (could be a coincidence) but it doesn't hurt to use the players waiting in the wings to be used against a quality opposition this well.

  • jonesy2 on November 3, 2011, 16:51 GMT

    pfff whatever, that was a completely dominant win for australia ahead of what is going to be a very good test series. the fact that MJ, siddle, watto, clarke and marsh are in splendid form means i think australia look the far better team heading into the series and the odds should be even. will be a brilliant series plenty of bouncers and tough cricket, have to be a tough competitor to score runs and it will be a good case of the best team will actually win.

  • srivatsan on November 3, 2011, 16:53 GMT

    It does not matter if the opposition is roughed up!. Winning matches mean a lot, the winning team takes lot of confidence.

  • jonesy2 on November 3, 2011, 16:57 GMT

    also fairly disrespectful and completely naive words coming out of here. i look forward to australia winning this series 2-0. funny thing is "Our bowlers are better in our conditions and I believe our batters can handle their attack". um no mate thats probably the opposite in reality, australia's batsmen are better and australia's bowlers are better in SA conditions than SA bowlers, not by much but siddle, johnson, harris, cummins if he was to play would bowl better in SA than anywhere. not that SA's bowlers are not the same.

  • on November 3, 2011, 16:57 GMT

    AGREE 100% ........... with umar_amir_fawad on (November 03 2011, 16:31 PM GMT)

    South Africans digging their on grave!!!Never under-estimate Australia,...they are there to win!!!My prediction 1-0 to Aussies..

  • Smithie on November 3, 2011, 17:14 GMT

    "no team was able to score more than 264 in an innings" derr because that is all Aus needed to win in their second dig! Are these comments by the coach for real ?

  • Force01 on November 3, 2011, 17:18 GMT

    Really looking forward to this series. Two extremely competent sides squaring up against each other. Its a real pity that the series has been truncated to two matches for something as insignificant as the Champions League. The ICC really needs to set its priorities straight.

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on November 3, 2011, 17:26 GMT

    I would have thought a higher intensity game would be of much more use to Australia ,even if some players didnt get the chance for runs, rather than a leisurely picnic match. The nature of tours these days means that most teams have few warm up games so they just have to get on with it. That said we should take the word of the S Africans. They did of course win a home series against Australia a mere 41 years ago so the right way to go about things must be fresh in the memory.

  • Peterincanada on November 3, 2011, 18:02 GMT

    It was a comprehensive win. Johnson seemed to be able to take a wicket whenever he wanted. Ponting and Hughes a bit of a concern though. Hughes may be underdone but Ponting is looking overdone.