Australia in South Africa 2011-12 November 13, 2011

Backed South Africa to chase 300 at Newlands - Gibbs

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Herschelle Gibbs, the former South Africa opening batsmen, has said Graeme Smith's team could have chased down an even bigger target against Australia in Cape Town. After that win, he said, the home side will look to finish off a wounded Australia in the second Test in Johannesburg, which begins on Thursday.

South Africa chased down 236 to win at Newlands and did so comfortably, a sign of their maturity as a team. Far from the skittish men who Gibbs described in his autobiography, To the Point, as being paralysed by "fear of failure", the squad seems to have settled as an established group of players who have what it takes to win in crunch situations. "South Africa have had the same Test squad for some time and they have built up a good record," Gibbs told ESPNcricinfo. "Even if Australia had got 300, I would have backed South Africa to chase it because days three and four are the best for batting at Newlands.

"Australia are not as mentally tough as they used to be, to play anywhere in the world," Gibbs told ESPNCricinfo in Cape Town. "They are not going to be as strong as they were under Steve Waugh and any team that plays better than them on any given day can now beat them. They are not as intimidating as they used to be."

Meeting a mortal Australian side is not something South Africans, especially of Gibbs' era, are used to. Gibbs played 15 of his 90 Tests against Australia and was on the losing side 13 times. South Africa only managed to beat Australia once in that time, in Durban in March 2002. Gibbs' century was the highest score of the match and helped South Africa chase 335 in a dead rubber.

Times have changed and South Africa have now recorded two consecutive wins over Australia in their own backyard. But, their victory on Friday gave them only their fifth win over Australia at home since readmission, an indicator of how dominant the visitors have been.

In the bizarre match at Newlands, all four innings took place on the second day, resulting in some of the lowest innings-scores in recent history. South Africa were skittled for 96 in their first innings before Australia were ousted for just 47 in their second.

The result would have given South Africa additional satisfaction because of criticism they copped beforehand about being underprepared for an important series. None of Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Mark Boucher and Dale Steyn had played a SuperSport Series match before the Test, leading to speculation that South Africa would be undercooked. "Given that they went into the Tests with no first-class match-time, it makes the win even more special" Gibbs said. "They will want to rub it into the Aussie noses now."

More important than making a point, will be the chance to win a series against Australia. "They have got the Aussies in sixes and sevens and Australia will probably be making changes to their side," Gibbs said. "I think South Africa have enough experience to put the final nail in the coffin."

Gibbs also believes the right leadership is in place to ensure South Africa do not get carried away with their Newlands win and look to close out the series. "Gary Kirsten will demand the highest level of consistency, just like in his playing days," Gibbs, who knows Kirsten well from opening the batting with him, said. "They know that true professionals are not happy with one win."

A different contest is expected at the Wanderers, with Johannesburg notably warmer than Cape Town has been. "The first few days of this match, the air stayed cool here in Cape Town, and there is always something for the bowlers," Gibbs said. "But Jo'burg will have a different wicket. The ball comes on to the bat quicker and better [there]."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Randolph on November 15, 2011, 22:35 GMT

    When SA get rolled in the second test lets see all these crows go quiet.

  • bhanu on November 15, 2011, 5:25 GMT

    @Supa_SAFFA: classic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Marcio on November 15, 2011, 2:06 GMT

    Somehow I think the S Africans are getting a bit carried away with things. I'd be careful if I were them. The media and public seem to have gone a bit bonkers over one win, are are in denial of the fact that conditions were a very big factor in the win, with Kepler Wessles being the only one to actually admit this to my knowledge. They are writing and acting as if they are 20 times better than Australia, which is nonsense. There is not much between these teams, and Australia can come back well and win the next game.

  • Joe on November 14, 2011, 18:57 GMT

    @jonesy2 dry your eyes mate, Oz had their run of luck when they were on top in years gone by. Accept it, Oz got pressed properly, no excuses!

  • Dummy4 on November 14, 2011, 16:06 GMT

    Aussie look more potent when they have a leg spinner in their team

  • rahul on November 14, 2011, 15:01 GMT

    @Roshini... Thanks much Roshini for clarifying your identity.. It pretty much sounds like and is one of the common Indian names and all SLankan fans would have gone gaga over your comment if your identity wasn't revealed.

    @Seether1: LOL.... Hey mate...Your comment is pretty hilarious...Very well said..No iffs and buts in the game of cricket..Team which plays the best wins the match, since even luck favours the team that is positive on a given day and that out plays their opponents..Thats why even few of the successful risk taking and attacking batsmen survive in the modern game of cricket due to their brave attitude.. Ex: Sehwag, Clarke defined this with his 155..awesome attacking cricket and even Hashim played attacking cricket even after being dropped twice which inturn provoked Smith to attack..

    My prediction.. No way out for Aussies though they will try to come back pretty hard and this series is pretty much over for them.. SA gonna take it 1-0 or 2-0 ...

  • Grant on November 14, 2011, 14:07 GMT

    If SA had been forced to follow on - and this very nearly happened - the game would have been wrapped up by the end of day 2 with SA losing by an innings. Coulda, shoulda, woulda ... whatever... SA won. See you in Jozi.

  • david on November 14, 2011, 13:37 GMT

    randy jonesy2nz lets not hide the facts with lies as per normal its happened before. remember leeds 81 bothams ashes aus 401 and 111 eng 174 and 356. those were the day when we beat . mind these are the days when we beat u lol. dpk

  • Dummy4 on November 14, 2011, 10:50 GMT

    SA missed chances too, or have you forgotten? AUS came out to bat on 214/8 on day 2 and in the first few overs SA had missed chances which in the end cost them dearly as the final 2 wickets brought a further 70 runs for AUS. This would have left SA chasing under 200 instead of the 237 they finally had to chase. SA also dropped Hughes on 0 in the second innings and he went on to make 7......so that total could have been 40 instead of 47. None of this matters anymore. Its all in the past. You can't count missed chances, it smacks of sour grapes. BTW SA used to be the leaders in dropping catches. I remember getting up in the early hours of the morning to watch the Test Series Down Under during the Hansie Cronje era and seeing SA drop about 8 catches in one innings alone.

  • Mark on November 14, 2011, 9:31 GMT

    SA provided one of the best comebacks test cricket has ever seen.....and in the end, the better team won. However, we like SA, Oz will not roll over and we can expect them to come back in the second test and play a strong match. Both sides need to brush up on the catching though.

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