Australia in South Africa 2013-14 January 31, 2014

Clarke accepts SA favourites at home

ESPNcricinfo staff
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Michael Clarke backs 'world's best' attack

Australia arrive for their tour of South Africa on the back of a rousing Ashes win and, although South Africa have never beaten the visitors at home since re-integration, Michael Clarke has picked the hosts as favourites for the series. Australia are scheduled to play three Tests and three T20s on their South Africa tour, beginning with the first Test on February 12.

"Being in South Africa's backyard, I would imagine they will be favourites," Clarke said in his first press conference after landing in South Africa. "But that doesn't bother us."

The last time Graeme Smith's side lost a series was nearly five years ago, when Ricky Ponting led a new-look Australian team. Since then, South Africa have established themselves as undeniably the best Test outfit in the world. The recent form of touring teams also seems to suggest that South Africa have the advantage. In 2013, Zimbabwe were the only side to lose Tests at home and Australia, too, had a torrid time on their tours of India (0-4) and the Ashes in England (0-3).

"It will be a great challenge to come to South Africa and play the No. 1 Test team in the world," Clarke said. "We know we have to be at our best to have success."

The biggest challenge for Australia will be South Africa's pace trio of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel, one of the strongest bowling attacks in recent times. Australia have reasons to be buoyant, though, after their Mitchell Johnson-led attack turned in one of the great series performances in the 5-0 drubbing of England.

"I think it's going to be a tough tour for the batsmen," Clarke said. "You have two very good bowling attacks. I don't know what the wickets are going to be like, but generally there is a bit in the wickets in South Africa."

Clarke, though, tipped his bowlers as the better unit: "I'm a little bit biased, but in my opinion, this Australian attack is the best in the world. What I've seen from the Australian fast bowlers over a long period of time, I feel we have the best attack in the world.

"I have said that, statistically the South African attack is unbelievable. They love their own conditions and they have had a lot of success here. They are going to be extremely tough to face."

Australia have only one warm-up match to get to grips with the South Africa surfaces. Their training in Potchefstroom was also curtailed by rain.

"It's about getting used to the conditions, but if we can play a similar brand of cricket to what we played in Australia, then I think we can have some success over here," he said. "It is important we get some good preparation and training in so we need this rain to disappear."

The tour kicks off with a four-day practice game against a South African Invitational XI starting Wednesday.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ozcricketwriter on February 2, 2014, 8:45 GMT

    Part 3:

    Australia do in fact have the better bowling unit, both in terms of ranking and form, with them massacring England and before that they were doing very well too. While Steyn and Philander are ranked 1 and 2 in the world, Johnson is the only bowler of either side who has intimidation factor, who can will batsmen out. The key issue though, will be whether South Africa will be as intimidated as England were - and if Johnson can continue doing so well.

    With Australia having the better bowling, but South Africa having the better batting, overall it is looking like a close contest. It being in South Africa means that Australia have the edge - as South Africa are so weak at home and Australia do so well in South Africa. This makes this match up almost too close to call.

    One key may be who replaces Jacques Kallis and how well he does versus, for Australia, who plays at number 6.

    But this series could end up as a 1-1 tie. It is certainly looking very, very close.

  • Ozcricketwriter on February 2, 2014, 8:42 GMT

    Part 2:

    The wicket keeping duel will be interesting, as A B de Villiers has played most of his career as a keeper while Brad Haddin for most of his career has stunk, but de Villiers was always a good keeper and in spite of the length of time away, he has done well since taking over. Not as well as Haddin has though, as Haddin is in best of all time form. de Villiers, though, is in significantly better batting form.

    South Africa's 2 best batsmen, Amla and de Villiers, are unmatched by Australia's batting, as even Michael Clarke is nowhere near their level. Faf du Plessis completes the trifecta of batting domination. The weakness for de Villiers is that he is the regular ODI captain and occasional test captain (but usually vice captain), which is potentially a weakness. While Smith is no longer good enough to warrant staying in the team on merit, de Villiers can't be risked as test captain because he has the triple burden of captain, keeper and best batsman, a potential weakness.

  • Ozcricketwriter on February 2, 2014, 8:39 GMT

    My preview Part 1:

    Australia have a better record in South Africa than South Africa do, though South Africa have wisely chosen their best 3 grounds against Australia, in an attempt to even things up. In recent times, Australia are still doing better in South Africa than South Africa are. South Africa, as most people know, have the worst home record of any team, so this being in South Africa is actually a disadvantage to them. Australia, out of all teams, have the best record in South Africa. That makes this match up a lot closer than it should be purely on form.

    South Africa are deservedly ranked number 1 in test cricket, but it should be noted that, beyond Steyn and Philander, in fact Australia's top 3 bowlers (Siddle, Harris and Johnson) are all currently ranked in the top 10 in the world, suggesting that, overall, Australia has the superior bowling unit. South Africa, like Australia, don't have a strong spin bowler, but Australia's is superior.

  • philander50 on February 7, 2014, 21:13 GMT

    I agree with a lot of people saying that the aussie bowling unit is strong but not the best - I don't mind clarke saying that he thinks they are the best in the business and thrashing england at home is great but when you can roll 3 teams out for under 50 all in a row at home, then perhaps you can you can actually believethey are the best in the world.

  • Macker60 on February 6, 2014, 10:26 GMT

    Manxmuppet, Its not the swallow The Australian Test that lost India is not this team, And the Bowling Unit that Lost to England Also did not Allow them to score, In those games Our Batsmen let us down, But the One Swallow you are referring too, They only allow 1 Batsman to score 100, and for the first time in 50 plus years they capture 100 test wickets, That is every wicket in every game, Name another Team that gone close to that, This Bowling Unit under McDemott is getting better with every outing, Since Lehmann took over, And before you say Hadden save Australia, Only one of the Australian batsman failed to score a test century,

  • Manxmuppet on February 4, 2014, 12:26 GMT

    "What I've seen from the Australian fast bowlers over a long period of time, I feel we have the best attack in the world."........that period of time, would it include the 0-4 in India and the 0-3 in England?

    One swallow does not a summer make. Rolling over a pathetically inept England team doesn't make you the best bowling attack in the world. Rolling over this SA batting line up will give Aus bragging rights, but let's wait until they've done it before we start talking about best bowling attack in the world.

  • on February 4, 2014, 11:05 GMT

    I think that the result of this series could be determined by three things: 1) Team attitude: (the side that looks for more ways to win probably will) 2) Fielding: ( No Jonti Rhodes [on either side] but whichever side puts pressure on their opponents better will be favored) & MOST IMPORTANT 3) Catches: [win matches] (An extremely important subset of fielding)

    As to who wins: I have no idea, SAf deserve (at home & no. 1) to be favorites; but I'm hoping for a 2-1 Aus win or maybe a 1-1 (with one washout).

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 4, 2014, 9:18 GMT

    @Kolpak As much as I love Haddin since his return I think you're taking it a bit far there. Haddin's glovework was shocking prior to his break, but since his return I have been really impressed, it's gone up at least 2 or 3 notches. He used to be not much better than Wade, now he's a real wicket keeper. AB has solid glovework, and isn't really tested because SA don't have a quality spin option. Haddin wins as a keeper but AB is good enough for the way his team is constructed.

    I'm Australian, I love the refreshed Haddin's work. But to say he's in any way a better batter than AB is ludicrous. One comes in at 7 and swings away, gives up plenty of chances and sometimes runs into England who can't catch or take any chances. AB is a technical, destructive batsman. You could easily make a case he is the best batsman there is. According to the rankings he definitely is. Comparing that to Haddin is silly, so let's not make Australian supporters look completely daft, if that's ok with you.

  • Kolpak1989 on February 4, 2014, 6:03 GMT

    Ozcricketwriter, you have got to be kidding about De Villiers being a better keeper/batsman than Haddin! De Villiers has been a part-time keeper for most of his international career (behind Boucher) and as a result his glovework is not in the league of Haddins. Additionally, in the Ashes Haddin averaged 66 with the bat. De Villiers, by way of contrast, is returning from hand surgery and hasn't had a hit for five weeks. I think Haddin will be the pick of the two.

    As for the batting, Michael Clarke is every bit as good as De Villiers and Amla. Clarke's run of scores throughout 2012 and 2013 stacks up positively against both of those players and he was contending with a tour of India, which might as well be the moon as far as batting is concerned (for Aussies/Poms/Saffers). Petersen at the top of the order is a weakness for South Africa and Faf has never had to bat this high in tests before. Game on I reckon.

  • redneck on February 4, 2014, 2:08 GMT

    couple of comments that pop up in these articles bother me. first why no 5 test series? well because both countries play their home test at the same time of year and both refuse to tour the other during boxing day/new years period!!! and no 5 test series will ever be played in australia without including the boxing day test in melbourne and the new years test in sydney. secondly philander being the no. 1 bowler that just proves the ranking are skewed!!! philander did little to impress when in australia. he skipped the adeliade test fearing for his bowling avg. one that he complied playing only at home, in eng and nz and all in favorable conditions. the moment he saw the adelaide deck he ran for the hills!!! a green top bully, nothing more!!! steyn now theres a bowler who can take wicket on any surface and the true no. 1!! johnson may challenge this if he keeps bowling like he did in the ashes however!!!

  • Ozcricketwriter on February 2, 2014, 8:45 GMT

    Part 3:

    Australia do in fact have the better bowling unit, both in terms of ranking and form, with them massacring England and before that they were doing very well too. While Steyn and Philander are ranked 1 and 2 in the world, Johnson is the only bowler of either side who has intimidation factor, who can will batsmen out. The key issue though, will be whether South Africa will be as intimidated as England were - and if Johnson can continue doing so well.

    With Australia having the better bowling, but South Africa having the better batting, overall it is looking like a close contest. It being in South Africa means that Australia have the edge - as South Africa are so weak at home and Australia do so well in South Africa. This makes this match up almost too close to call.

    One key may be who replaces Jacques Kallis and how well he does versus, for Australia, who plays at number 6.

    But this series could end up as a 1-1 tie. It is certainly looking very, very close.

  • Ozcricketwriter on February 2, 2014, 8:42 GMT

    Part 2:

    The wicket keeping duel will be interesting, as A B de Villiers has played most of his career as a keeper while Brad Haddin for most of his career has stunk, but de Villiers was always a good keeper and in spite of the length of time away, he has done well since taking over. Not as well as Haddin has though, as Haddin is in best of all time form. de Villiers, though, is in significantly better batting form.

    South Africa's 2 best batsmen, Amla and de Villiers, are unmatched by Australia's batting, as even Michael Clarke is nowhere near their level. Faf du Plessis completes the trifecta of batting domination. The weakness for de Villiers is that he is the regular ODI captain and occasional test captain (but usually vice captain), which is potentially a weakness. While Smith is no longer good enough to warrant staying in the team on merit, de Villiers can't be risked as test captain because he has the triple burden of captain, keeper and best batsman, a potential weakness.

  • Ozcricketwriter on February 2, 2014, 8:39 GMT

    My preview Part 1:

    Australia have a better record in South Africa than South Africa do, though South Africa have wisely chosen their best 3 grounds against Australia, in an attempt to even things up. In recent times, Australia are still doing better in South Africa than South Africa are. South Africa, as most people know, have the worst home record of any team, so this being in South Africa is actually a disadvantage to them. Australia, out of all teams, have the best record in South Africa. That makes this match up a lot closer than it should be purely on form.

    South Africa are deservedly ranked number 1 in test cricket, but it should be noted that, beyond Steyn and Philander, in fact Australia's top 3 bowlers (Siddle, Harris and Johnson) are all currently ranked in the top 10 in the world, suggesting that, overall, Australia has the superior bowling unit. South Africa, like Australia, don't have a strong spin bowler, but Australia's is superior.

  • philander50 on February 7, 2014, 21:13 GMT

    I agree with a lot of people saying that the aussie bowling unit is strong but not the best - I don't mind clarke saying that he thinks they are the best in the business and thrashing england at home is great but when you can roll 3 teams out for under 50 all in a row at home, then perhaps you can you can actually believethey are the best in the world.

  • Macker60 on February 6, 2014, 10:26 GMT

    Manxmuppet, Its not the swallow The Australian Test that lost India is not this team, And the Bowling Unit that Lost to England Also did not Allow them to score, In those games Our Batsmen let us down, But the One Swallow you are referring too, They only allow 1 Batsman to score 100, and for the first time in 50 plus years they capture 100 test wickets, That is every wicket in every game, Name another Team that gone close to that, This Bowling Unit under McDemott is getting better with every outing, Since Lehmann took over, And before you say Hadden save Australia, Only one of the Australian batsman failed to score a test century,

  • Manxmuppet on February 4, 2014, 12:26 GMT

    "What I've seen from the Australian fast bowlers over a long period of time, I feel we have the best attack in the world."........that period of time, would it include the 0-4 in India and the 0-3 in England?

    One swallow does not a summer make. Rolling over a pathetically inept England team doesn't make you the best bowling attack in the world. Rolling over this SA batting line up will give Aus bragging rights, but let's wait until they've done it before we start talking about best bowling attack in the world.

  • on February 4, 2014, 11:05 GMT

    I think that the result of this series could be determined by three things: 1) Team attitude: (the side that looks for more ways to win probably will) 2) Fielding: ( No Jonti Rhodes [on either side] but whichever side puts pressure on their opponents better will be favored) & MOST IMPORTANT 3) Catches: [win matches] (An extremely important subset of fielding)

    As to who wins: I have no idea, SAf deserve (at home & no. 1) to be favorites; but I'm hoping for a 2-1 Aus win or maybe a 1-1 (with one washout).

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 4, 2014, 9:18 GMT

    @Kolpak As much as I love Haddin since his return I think you're taking it a bit far there. Haddin's glovework was shocking prior to his break, but since his return I have been really impressed, it's gone up at least 2 or 3 notches. He used to be not much better than Wade, now he's a real wicket keeper. AB has solid glovework, and isn't really tested because SA don't have a quality spin option. Haddin wins as a keeper but AB is good enough for the way his team is constructed.

    I'm Australian, I love the refreshed Haddin's work. But to say he's in any way a better batter than AB is ludicrous. One comes in at 7 and swings away, gives up plenty of chances and sometimes runs into England who can't catch or take any chances. AB is a technical, destructive batsman. You could easily make a case he is the best batsman there is. According to the rankings he definitely is. Comparing that to Haddin is silly, so let's not make Australian supporters look completely daft, if that's ok with you.

  • Kolpak1989 on February 4, 2014, 6:03 GMT

    Ozcricketwriter, you have got to be kidding about De Villiers being a better keeper/batsman than Haddin! De Villiers has been a part-time keeper for most of his international career (behind Boucher) and as a result his glovework is not in the league of Haddins. Additionally, in the Ashes Haddin averaged 66 with the bat. De Villiers, by way of contrast, is returning from hand surgery and hasn't had a hit for five weeks. I think Haddin will be the pick of the two.

    As for the batting, Michael Clarke is every bit as good as De Villiers and Amla. Clarke's run of scores throughout 2012 and 2013 stacks up positively against both of those players and he was contending with a tour of India, which might as well be the moon as far as batting is concerned (for Aussies/Poms/Saffers). Petersen at the top of the order is a weakness for South Africa and Faf has never had to bat this high in tests before. Game on I reckon.

  • redneck on February 4, 2014, 2:08 GMT

    couple of comments that pop up in these articles bother me. first why no 5 test series? well because both countries play their home test at the same time of year and both refuse to tour the other during boxing day/new years period!!! and no 5 test series will ever be played in australia without including the boxing day test in melbourne and the new years test in sydney. secondly philander being the no. 1 bowler that just proves the ranking are skewed!!! philander did little to impress when in australia. he skipped the adeliade test fearing for his bowling avg. one that he complied playing only at home, in eng and nz and all in favorable conditions. the moment he saw the adelaide deck he ran for the hills!!! a green top bully, nothing more!!! steyn now theres a bowler who can take wicket on any surface and the true no. 1!! johnson may challenge this if he keeps bowling like he did in the ashes however!!!

  • Shaggy076 on February 4, 2014, 1:18 GMT

    TommyTuckerSaffa; FIrst of all I agree with your point it is laughable Steyn not being considered a threat. I would also say the Aussie batsmans would consider Philander a massive threat as well, like the South Africans would be very weary of Harris. However I have to take exception to your example of the Adelaide test. You say lets not forget this is the same attack that South Africa batted out for 2 days on Adelaide, well is it not the same South African attack that went for 4/480 in a day of cricket. Secondly, Johnson, Harris and Watson did not play. Thirdly, it was a three bowler attack with Patterson breaking down and temperature above 40 degrees. I'm not sure any 3 bowler attack is ever going to get a team out in those conditions.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on February 3, 2014, 22:34 GMT

    Despite being a neutral, I really hope and pray that all the key bowlers stay fit and in great form throughout, and in Johnson's case that the right one even turns up! Ought to be a cracking series if this comes to pass. A lot of talk about the bowlers, but what about the batsmen? SA favourites there too I'd imagine.

  • Just42day on February 3, 2014, 14:33 GMT

    It would do Clarke good to not shoot his mouth off like he did with England. He was pretty confident looking at the English team. Unlike England or Oz, there are too many names to mention for outstanding performances because the batting and bowling options are of equal strength and well balanced.

    One cannot just depend on a Johnson or a lucky Faukner day. Hence SA starting off favourites has more merit that Clarke has to concede. For SA, a draw is a loss.

  • on February 3, 2014, 14:13 GMT

    SA is slightly unpredictable. They lost to India, SL, WI at home. And their loss to Oz at home when everybody else was taking them apart too seems inexplicable. Apart, everything suggests SA would dominate. The FC averages of SA bowlers suggest they're far more consistent. Clarke, slightly inconsistent, and Harris are terrific players. Siddle steady. Mitch and Warner are rather enigmas, whose success rate would perhaps determine the fate of Oz. SA has no spinner even to match Lyon. The rest, well, don't currently look test class.

  • Greatest_Game on February 3, 2014, 13:42 GMT

    @ Not_Another_Keybored_Expert wrote "I cant remember who bowled in perth but im pretty sure it involved Hastings, Starc and maybe Cutting."

    John Hastings, Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson were the Perth quicks for Australia. They did ok in the 1st innings. It was the second that they got taken apart. Johnson bowled pretty well, but he did not intimidate the SA batsmen. I think Graeme Smith took immense delight in taking runs off him - I would have after he had broken my hand!

  • TommytuckerSaffa on February 3, 2014, 12:42 GMT

    @ Not_Another_Keybored_Expert I think you will find that it was Mitch Johnson who played in Perth. He got the wicket of Hashim Amla......after Amla made 196. But in fairness to my previous comment, it was a very different bowling attack that played in Perth. Siddle was outrageously declared unfit for Perth after Clarke bowled him into the ground in Adelaide. Which forced Australia to then play Hastings who got some stick.

    Either-way, I just cant wait for this series to start. Who will win? Who knows. Australia is capable of anything in SA and SA are capable of anything being No.1

  • Not_Another_Keybored_Expert on February 3, 2014, 12:24 GMT

    @ Tommytuckersaffa actually no its not the same attack that couldn't bowl out SA in Adelaide that was Siddle and Starc , Pattinson couldn't bowl in the second innings because of injury. And I cant remember who bowled in perth but im pretty sure it involved Hastings, Starc and maybe Cutting. Im not to sure on that last one but one thing im sure of is that it wasn't even close to the fast bowling attack AUS has now. Bye the way im one of the few Aussies on hear that agrees with you about SA attack being better than AUS so im not just being biased.

  • Shaggy076 on February 3, 2014, 11:54 GMT

    NixNixon: I reckon I read exactly the same post the last tour to South Africa and the one before that. Despite all the negative that has been said about Australia it has been about 40 years since we lost in South Africa.Basil777; f India can make 450 when they couldn't make that in two innings in Australia I reckon we can make 300. Kohli average was about 40 and Sharma just gathered by playing two home tests against West Indies not sure you can put either of them in front of Aussies batsman.

  • NixNixon on February 3, 2014, 11:30 GMT

    SA will be too strong for AUS, despite all that has been said AUS have a weak top 6 and an average bowling attack compared to SA. SA always finds a way to win. In a way I like the way that the media is making the AUS team out to be awesome because when SA wins 3 - 0 then the world will see just how good Proteas are. Good luck to both teams, cant wait for series to get started.

  • CrikiLeaks on February 3, 2014, 11:16 GMT

    @TommytuckerSaffa- agree with your query re:featured article. Michael Clarke being nowhere near Amla/De Villiers level doesn't hold up statistically. But must also mention this is not the Aus attack that got spanked in Perth. @Basil777 - your logic 'if everything goes right for SA they win by 100-200 runs. Don't see how they can lose' is a little shaky. Re:chirping - any serious observer of the game will know it will take an entire Australian team 6.7 years to match the amount of chirp Anderson dished out.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on February 3, 2014, 10:35 GMT

    I have to disagree with several points ozcricketwriter makes and I am amazed its selected as a featured article. "While Steyn and Philander are ranked 1 and 2 in the world, Johnson is the only bowler of either side who has intimidation factor..." This statement is laughable and to consider Steyn as a non-threatening bowler is just insulting.

    You cant just catapult yourself as the best bowling attack in the world after beating a weakened and demoralized england at HOME.

    It just doesn't work like that, you have to consistently win both home and away for a number of years which SA have done. Lets not forget this is the same bowling attack that failed to bowl out SA in two days in Adelaide and then got spanked in Perth.

  • Basil777 on February 3, 2014, 10:00 GMT

    Kohli and Sharma came with wonerful averages and never realy sparked in SA; maybe Kohli. I predict to 300 will be to far Aus to get in an innings if SA bowlers fires on all their guns. SA top 6 batsman can get 400 plus if they are their best so I do not see how Aus is going to win this one. Chirping and blowing yourself in the media wont work

  • on February 3, 2014, 9:33 GMT

    @indiaworldchamps2011

    That "listless england with one of the most unimaginative captain ever" apparently beat some country in a dust bowl, on a foreign soil. But I forgot the name of the team/country. Would you mind reminding us which team it is?

    Credit where its due mate. Take any team, put em in Aussie shoes after losing 4-0, 3-0, ridiculed by media, and then came back totally owning england in Test, ODI, T20. I'd take my hats off if any team can do that.

    hopefully this will get published

  • Not_Another_Keybored_Expert on February 3, 2014, 9:07 GMT

    I think the posters on here are missing the point, of course Michael Clarke is going to say he's attack is the best in the world he is trying to build them up full of self belief, that is a captains job, its the same with Clarke copping stick about trying to get back to the number 1 spot, Clarke knows he has a team that doesn't match up to S.A, But if your not going out there to win then why even bother.

  • highveldhillbilly on February 3, 2014, 8:55 GMT

    @Ozcricketwriter - "... as South Africa are so weak at home..." The last 3 series at home haven't been so bad. Beat Pakistan 3 - nil, India 1 - nil, NZ 2- nil etc. The last test we lost in SA was against Sri Lanka over 24 months ago....

  • JimmySA on February 3, 2014, 8:51 GMT

    @ The majority of Aus fans, we are not boasting and faffing that SA will take a clean sweep 3-0. We might even lose the series, all we know is that it will be super close as Aus are the more in form team at the moment. But the difference between us and Eng is that we don't take you for granted and expect results, we will be more prepared. @Thegimp "Aust have nothing to lose"? Well neither do SA, if they lose 3-0 they still keep their no. 1 (earned) status.

  • indiaworldchamps2011 on February 3, 2014, 7:21 GMT

    lost 4-0 in india, 3-0 in england and win one series at HOME against listless england with one of the most unimaginative captain ever and suddenly the attack is best in the world..... hmmm sounds about right !!! lol.... same situation with india and they are ofcourse only tigers at home blah blah blah... please publish

  • JimmySA on February 3, 2014, 7:20 GMT

    Of course Clarke (Making a more professional statement than Siddles outburst) would think their attack is the best in the world after looking at what happened in England and there's nothing wrong with that. Perhaps he is right. Without self confidence and belief there would be no contest. This is going to be a really great series and hope it lives up to all the hype. Steyn gun and co. vs Johnson and co. Couldn't ask for anything more electrifying!

  • ZCFOutkast on February 3, 2014, 6:52 GMT

    @Metalhead, you gleaned part of a broader conversation and are arguing from an unsolicited angle. No way it can be a bad thing that quality bats ahead of you, or that collapses are welcome and a one-man saviour scenario is needed. The point was simply AB unlike Andy Flower for example, had world class batsmen batting before him.

    As to why AB shoud move, it's not necessary for him to be keeping wicket.The bottomline is Tsolekile, QdK, Vilas or whoever should be keeping wicket. Very soon the Proteas will face a crisis in openers as I can't see Smith&Alviro going strong together. Bear in mind that Faf was on the verge of being dropped before India, which means he is a concern, same thing with Duminy and both openers.

    With Kallis retired, and AB who was groomed years ago to be his replacement in that position, he really should've been promoted and we worry only about openers plus 5&6, with Amla&AB set at 3&4. AB had to go up the order but they chose the defensive option which is telling.

  • Shaggy076 on February 3, 2014, 5:31 GMT

    TheMissingAllrounder; Since Johnson took 37 wickets at average 14 - What do you reckon he would do if he was consistent? Seriously Johnson was consistently at a very high level all series. Not sure what you were watching. DO you think he should be averaging single figures per wicket? As poor as the batting was each of the top 5 that remain in the side all made 100's in the series (in fact Watson was the only one to not make multiple 100's and he was motoring towards a second ton just the target from England wasn't high enough). Haddin was exceptional and the lower order of AUstralia has been performing for a long time, just not this latest series. I also believe you are incorrect to think that whoever wins the first test automatically wins the series both these sides are renowned for fighting and it wont be over after one test.

  • naren1983 on February 3, 2014, 5:29 GMT

    The Test series going to be a cracker. Looking at the current form, Aussies have little upper hand to try to win the series. Definitely Steyn & Philander are top ranked bowlers, but Harris, Johnson & Siddle will be equally threaten the SA than their bowlers threaten Aussies. Its up-to the batsmen how they handle the bowlers will win the matches for their team. Mostly it will be 1-1 draw, or the team which seizes the crucial moments will win the series 2-1, for me it will be Aussies.

  • twomarktwo on February 3, 2014, 3:15 GMT

    @Ozcricketwriter you note "that, beyond Steyn and Philander, in fact Australia's top 3 bowlers (Siddle, Harris and Johnson) are all currently ranked in the top 10 in the world, suggesting that, overall, Australia has the superior bowling unit."

    It would be extremely difficult for Morkel to make the top 10 rankings when he plays with the #1 and #2 bowlers in the world. In summary if they fire (and the rankings demonstrate how regular an occurrence that is), there is much less opportunity for him to take wickets. Put him in that Australian side and I am sure he would be sitting in a spot similar to Johnson or Siddle.

    The edge Australia do have is certainly with the spinner, and a test bowling attack a good spin option gets a huge advantage over an attack without that option.

    I think its fairly obvious that South Africa has the best pace attack. But that spin option does bring up the debate of which attack is better overall.

  • creebo777 on February 2, 2014, 22:44 GMT

    Wouldve love to see abbott,hendricks,de lange against the aussies in the warm up match

  • Shaggy076 on February 2, 2014, 22:26 GMT

    creebo777 ; You have obviously been busy for a while so I will help do the checking for you. Harris has played the last 9 straight. Siddle has played the last 17 tests and Johnson well just the last 5 but doesn't have a history of many injuries. Lyon has never missed a test through injury. It is true the last time we played South Africa, Siddle couldn't get through a third test but at the time we only had 4 bowlers and one broke down (Patterson) and then he was overloaded with work trying to bowl out South Africa on a 40 degree day on a flat pitch with only the help of one other pace bowler. Recent record suggests the top 3 have been very durable.

  • on February 2, 2014, 21:37 GMT

    Test series tend to be about building and maintaining momentum which is why I'm a bit worried about Oz..

  • TheMissingAllrounder on February 2, 2014, 20:55 GMT

    The biggest advantage Australia take into the series is confidence. Their batting was poor for most of the recent Ashes series, frequently being rescued by Haddin and the tail, although Rogers was starting to show signs of consistency towards the end.

    While Johnson's bowling was brilliant in spells it was far from consistently menacing. However, the rest of the attack were consistent, which was the key to the victory. Johnson demoralised them. Harris, Siddle and Lyon strangled them.

    What's more Johnson has form against South Africa, particularly Smith, so they approach the series with a psychological edge. The first test will be critical. If South Africa go in apprehensive, they will play into Australia's hands. But if they maintain their clinical ruthlessness they could burst Australia's confidence and take the series easily.

    I think 1-1 is unlikely and a 2-0 or 3-0 victory will go to the team winning the first test.

  • pat_one_back on February 2, 2014, 20:29 GMT

    @Ozcricketwriter you may do well to watch some of the cricket you allegedly comment on. Haddin has been a very solid keeper for Aust despite huge boots to fill, the accusation he has stunk most of his career is absolutely baseless, Wade on the other hand... I really shouldn't bother to read into your comments, was only yesterday after all you'd completely overlooked the existence of SA's current captain of 10+ years Graham Smith, don't give up your day job buddy...

  • MeTalHeD69 on February 2, 2014, 20:25 GMT

    @ZCFOutkast I don't quite understand the problem here. You're saying the other players are so good that it makes it easier for AB to do well? How is that a bad thing? No team hopes for a batting collapse so their number 5 can suddenly score a triple hundred to bail them out of trouble. AB is ranked number one in the world because he is a good batsman. He does a fine job where he is. Why should he move? Saying "At least Clarke has proven in collapses he can hold everything together & even counter-attack a la Newlands 2011" isn't good because the team was relying on ONE player to hold the innings together. It's good that he was there to save them, but it means their top order failed. No one WANTS their top order to fail so they can prove the middle order solid and I doubt it is sustainable to rely on one player for victory. Ask any cricketer, commentator or fan - they want the top order to get a good start. AB doing well after a good start is not a bad thing at all.

  • AamirKhan-SuperStar on February 2, 2014, 20:15 GMT

    Some really good and knowledgable comments here. Boy oh boy can't wait for 12th feb, i love test cricket and who better than the best to fight it out on the field. Its natural to think of bowlers from these two sides but its batting where the Proteas hold a little edge over the visitors, they have no doubt the best batting lineup in the world presently. I dont see any Australian batsmen matching skills successfully with Amla & De villiers. But its all about performing on the day, isnt it?

  • Greatest_Game on February 2, 2014, 19:33 GMT

    @ Ozcricketwriter notes that "...beyond Steyn and Philander ... Australia's top 3 bowlers (Siddle, Harris and Johnson) are all currently ranked in the top 10 in the world, suggesting that, overall, Australia has the superior (quick) bowling unit. (Neither) have a strong spin bowler, but Australia's is superior."

    A look at the numbers.

    RATINGS (higher number superior): Philander 909 + Steyn 901 + Morkel 707 = 2517. Divided by 3, SA's quicks' ave RATING = 839.

    Harris 866 + Siddle 779 + Johnson 743 = 2388. Divided by 3, Aus' quicks' ave RATING = 796.

    SA's quicks' RATINGS ave is superior

    RANKINGS (lower number superior): Philander 1 + Steyn 2 + Morkel 12 = 15. Divided by 3, SA's quicks' ave RANKING = 5.

    Harris 3 + Siddle 6 + Johnson 8 = 17. Divided by 3, Aus' quicks' ave RANKING = 5.6667.

    SA's quicks' RANKINGS ave is superior.

    But, Aus' spin is so superior that adding spin bowler numbers puts Aus' OVERALL attack on top, ratings & rankings.

    We can spin this both ways, I guess ;)

  • Greatest_Game on February 2, 2014, 17:55 GMT

    Ozcricketwriter writes "The wicket keeping duel will be interesting, as AB de Villiers has played most of his career as a keeper while Brad Haddin for most of his career has stunk, but de Villiers was always a good keeper."

    You may underestimate Haddin's keeping. In records of Dismissals per Innings (D/I = keeper's ave) for 4+ tests, Haddin currently is #10, one below Gilchrist. (Link below.) Since his return, he is up 5.75% over his career ave: 2.00 to 2.115, but he never stunk! His 1st year's ave was 1.750, just below Healy's 1.763, but by 2010 was up to 2.102, just below Gilly's 2.178! By 2011 it dropped to 2.016, but was still #11 all time then!

    After his 1st year, Haddin has been amongst the elite keepers, & not stunk! at all His batting ave hasn't changed much at all though, currently at 36.67

    http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=1;filter=advanced;keeper=1;orderby=dismissals_per_inns;qualmin1=5;qualval1=matches_keeper;template=results;type=fielding

  • ZCFOutkast on February 2, 2014, 17:29 GMT

    You missed the point. If Flower&Sanga had Smith, Amla & Kallis batting ahead of them, I'm pretty sure, they like Haddin&Hussey would thrive from that position just like AB. At least Clarke has proven in collapses he can hold everything together & even counter-attack a la Newlands 2011. He's batting at #4 now too!

    I wouldn't have been surprised to see Matthews&Chandimal average in the high 50's as well if they batted for a long time at #5 with Dilshan, Mahela&Sanga coming in before them. Unfortunately they both had that privelige just 5 or less times, yet both averaging 47 odd already(mostly bowling/keeping respectively & captaining). Except AB averaged much less at the same point as Chandimal. The point is, keeping or not, just about anyone can come in and do very well at #5 for the Proteas when Smith,Amla&Kallis are batting before you. Heck even young Steve Smith does much with less. It's not because JP&Faf are special that they pretty much hit the ground running when first selected.

  • ZCFOutkast on February 2, 2014, 17:20 GMT

    You missed the point. If Flower&Sanga had Smith, Amla & Kallis batting ahead of them, I'm pretty sure, they like Haddin&Hussey would thrive from that position just like AB. At least Clarke has proven in collapses he can hold everything together & even counter-attack a la Newlands 2011. He's batting at #4 now too!

    I wouldn't have been surprised to see Matthews&Chandimal average in the high 50's as well if they batted for a long time at #5 with Dilshan, Mahela&Sanga coming in before them. Unfortunately they both had that privelige just 5 or less times, yet both averaging 47 odd already(mostly bowling/keeping respectively & captaining). Except AB averaged much less at the same point as Chandimal. The point is, keeping or not, just about anyone can come in and do very well at #5 for the Proteas when Smith,Amla&Kallis are batting before you. Heck even young Steve Smith does much with less. It's not because JP&Faf are special that they pretty much hit the ground running when first selected.

  • on February 2, 2014, 16:56 GMT

    Unlike some I do not believe South Africa is the favourites but its very much a 50/50 toss up. Both teams have great batting and bowling, both are in top form and it should be a great experience, nothing like recent tours which were a bit drab, did not draw one in so much. South Africa has developed some mental toughness and even with the loss of Kallis built great reserves. Cant wait to see these two great teams play.

  • on February 2, 2014, 16:49 GMT

    Not unexpected for the Australians to be crowing after they finished off a fading England team. A bit of arrogance is also expected, its all part of cricket. I think this is going to be an exciting series and then we will see how great Australia is, and in saying this I do not underestimate their talent and class. South Africa has had a great run and we are proud of the guys, having the two best bowlers in the world with another who can bowl with the best. Steyn with his fierce bowling spells and his genius compimented by Philander who it seems is his equal except in pace. The always reliable Morkel with his pace and on the spot bowling and enough talent in support. Even after a long run and without Kallis this is still a great and exciting team.

    Australia has a great pace attack and on recent form they will be a real challenge for the guys. Perhaps they are not on the level of the South African bowlers but they have enough steam to blast any top team to smithers.

  • ZCFOutkast on February 2, 2014, 16:48 GMT

    With all due respect @Greatest_Game, if SA was a different nation now it wouldn't be suffering from impending demise unless it sucks up to the BCCI each time. There's enough people in the country to have ensured that CSA is a powerful body financially, backed by a deep supporter base. Unfortunately they took that base for granted & now it's just like any other weak body in world cricket. Embarassing if you consider #1 in all formats not long ago! Proteas fan? No. South Africa? Definitely! If&when the real SA turns up I'll be right behind it. Like all the other 45+ million I'll join then.

    I wasn't wrong about de Kock. He was pathetic for a long time. He's just a beneficiary of inexplicable patience. We'll see if CSA persists with other certain players for as long if failing then we can talk. Thanks to that at least we have a reference point going forward.

    I've said many times that I don't hold Clarke in high regard for the same reason so that's not new. You must've missed those posts.

  • cricketsubh on February 2, 2014, 16:02 GMT

    my team for 1st test 1.warner.2.rogers.3.hughes.4.clarke.5.smith.6.wason.7.haddin.8.lyon.9.jhonson.10.haris.11.siddil.and 2nd thing cam white deserve to go to s.a for sure his in great from he can bat at no6 if hughes fail to score runs in 1st test white should replace him not doolan .

  • Greatest_Game on February 2, 2014, 16:01 GMT

    @ ZCFOutkast asked "@Greatest_Game who bats/batted above Sanga&Flower if I may ask?"

    Respectfully sir, please do your own research. It is not my role to answer questions for you! If you do not have the time to search the records & present a reality-based argument, perhaps you should not offer unsupported opinion to a community that values well informed conversation?

    The record in these conversations shows that your opinions are often rebutted. Many have observed that your comments seem based more on emotion than on the cricket record. For example, you were wrong about de Kock, you were wrong about AB, & you are still wrong about Tsolokile, who has now handed the gloves over to de Kock. Yet you will not admit it. I have read many of your posts that seem, to me, to be opinions informed by the ethnic background of the players, & not their abilities as cricketers. These I well recognise as characteristics of the old South Africa, but we are a different nation now. Join us, please.

  • Greatest_Game on February 2, 2014, 15:16 GMT

    @ ZCFOutkast informs us that "There is a reason why I never include any batsmen who bat below 4 in international cricket in "great batsmen discussions", and that includes AB(&Mike Hussey,Chanders etc)!

    Ah, I get it. You mean a "not great" batsman like Clarke, right? He has hidden at 5 too, & he does NOT keep.

    If you read the stats, Flower's ave was low batting 4 & above, but great batting at 5. You stated that ""Guys like Sanga&Andy Flower have batted higher up the order (than AB) while keeping," but failed to mention that their batting averages ranged from below average to poor. AB has, statistically, the best batsman/keeper record in the history of test cticket. With only a total of 18 tests keeping, that may change, but right now, he is, by the stats available, the best ever. Was he supposed to just boot Kallis out the way? Really?

    Sorry mate, you are exposed. Your posts are not reality based, and seem little else but anti South African, and a Saffa you clearly are not!

  • Haz95 on February 2, 2014, 14:58 GMT

    Pakistan whitewashed England at home too, what happened when Pak then toured SA? Clarke please stop overrating your bowlers cos the best bowler on that pitch by far is gonna be mr Steyn. Philander and Harris are gonna have a tight test to see who will be the second best bet. Johnson form looks like it will end as he was struggling in the LOI vs England. The difference between SA and ENG is one is mentally weak whilst one his mentally strong and physically. Clarke will be the only batsman who stands any chance but remember, after the IND series, Dale wasn't too great so I guess this will be a very good series and Amla has been out of form(altho he may be back judging by his domestic performances)

  • creebo777 on February 2, 2014, 10:27 GMT

    Looks like wayne parnell &morne morkel doesnt get respect around here,the way morkel is bowling at the moment i wont be suprise if he out bowls steyn again,parnell can trouble the aussies aswell certainly better then watson as a all rounder

  • Greatest_Game on February 2, 2014, 9:16 GMT

    @ __PK, in a huff, wrote "Nice selective memory, Greatest_Game. Why start measuring ABD's record in Perth? Was that his first recent game as keeper? No, he was just abysmal with the bat before that time..."

    @_PK. No selective memory at all. The point was that AB had scored 50 plus in his last 10 tests. 50 + was the point. As he did not score 50 plus in his last 11 tests, why on earth would I mention it. I was discussing his RECENT record, not his all-time record, his record against Aus, his record against Zimbabwe, OR ANY OTHER RECORD BAR HIS LAST 10 TESTS.

    Perhaps such subtleties are difficult for you to grasp, but when discussing the last 10 tests, # 11 is not mentioned.

    P.S. In that 11th test, at Adelaide, he scored 33 in 220 balls & 2 sessions, frustrating & exhausting the Aus bowlers, winning the draw, & setting SA up to take the series. It was an innings of amazing discipline that put Aus right off their game. It was more valuable than many of his 50s as SA won the series.

  • ZCFOutkast on February 2, 2014, 8:58 GMT

    @Greatest_Game who bats/batted above Sanga&Flower if I may ask?

    And what do you mean AB bats where his coach&captain tell him to? What AB wants AB gets don't you know that. He wants to captain in his format - gets it. Doesn't want to captain in this format so be it. Wants to keep today or not, same thing. Doesn't want to keep at all, ok selectors bring on Thami. Now wants to keep, so selectors go back on their word to Thami. To me that hat sounds like someone who tells the selectors, coach&captain what he wants and gets it!

    There is a reason why I never include any batsmen who bat below 4 in international cricket in "great batsmen discussions", and that includes AB(&Mike Hussey,Chanders etc)! It wasn't merely a coincidence that AB(&Hussey) went down the order. They simply couldn't cut it against fresh quality new ball bowlers. At the very least I though he had enough class to tackle#4 in Tests, but it appears that unlike top batsmen he's too scared to bat at #3 or open in ODIs even!

  • Beertjie on February 2, 2014, 8:58 GMT

    Just some facts, @chechong0114: Since re-admission it has not been possible to schedule 5-test series not because of inadequate attendance but because of cricket politics and an overcrowded calendar. The latter refers as much to ODI series scheduled in Oz in January as tests scheduled in accordance with the FTP program. SAF refused as a matter of principle to forego their Boxing Day/New year games v Aus. in SAF, while for Aus. foregoing these at home would have been too costly. In order to schedule 5-test series between them such series needed to be scheduled after the main test window: mid January till late March making about 9 tests during the Oz summer and perhaps 7-8 tests during the SAF summer. The latter may be too many while the former would undermine lucrative ODI's (or would it?). I'm sad about this, but maybe SAF can muster the same principled resolve to fight the Big 3 proposals. Somehow, I doubt it though, but you never know.

  • creebo777 on February 2, 2014, 8:45 GMT

    Why a 5 test series? Last time i check aussies bowlers couldnt make it pass two test matches against us,hope harris stays injury free,johnson continue his awesome bowling,mclaren,parnell,steyn,morkel,vern all should play in the first test

  • tom120 on February 2, 2014, 8:20 GMT

    Australia were unlucky to lose the series against SA at home. They dominated the first two games. And, really proved Steyn, philander and morkel ineffective in first two matches. But SA played very well in Perth match and won that game. But it doesn't account for the first two games dominated by Aussies. Recently, SA were troubled by mediocre Indian pace attack. So Aussies can be hopeful of troubling SA batters. SA still the favorites, but it all depends upon the Aussies batters. And I admit Aussies batting is fragile. I hope Aussie batters stand up to the occasion.

  • Greatest_Game on February 2, 2014, 8:20 GMT

    @ ZCFOutkast's mythology...part 1 "Guys like Sanga&Andy Flower have batted higher up the order (than AB) while keeping!"

    Yes, but up the order they did not score as many runs as AB does!

    Andy Flower, in 100 inngs as keeper batted 5 inns at #3, ave 16.2; 4 at #4, ave 30, 74 at #5, ave 56.46, 14 at #6 ave 58.4, 2 at #7, ave 70, 1 at #8. 74% of inngs Flower "hid down the order" at EXACTLY THE SAME POSITION as de Villiers. 17% he hid further down! Just 9% he batted "higher up the order," & his ave was far worse.

    Sangakkara, in 81 inngs as keeper, batted 1 inngs at #1, ave 31; 4 at #2, ave 19.66; 67 at #3, ave 44.43; 3 at #4, ave 26.35; 5 at #5, ave 18.8; 1 at #8, ave 25. Poor batting for Sangakkara!

    Flower when keeping averaged 53.7. Sangakkara averaged 40.48 keeping, & 67.34 when not!! Since taking over from Boucher AB averages 65.23. He bats like Sanga NOT keeping, but still keeps, & keeps better than both ever did - his D/I is much better. It is the 5th best EVER for 4+ tests!

  • Greatest_Game on February 2, 2014, 7:19 GMT

    ZCFOutkast's mythology...part 3. "Morne's everyone's bunny.'

    Funny thing about Morne the bunny, he dismissed Andrew Strauss & Mike Hussey 8 times each in 11 & 10 matches respectively. He accounted for Cook & Ponting 6 times each, nailed KP Pietersen 5 times, & Doni and Dravid 4 times. 3 times each he sent back Clarke, Trott, Ali, Vijay, Gambhir, Gayle ... Those are just the well known batsmen. He even "bunnied" the dynamic Rob Quiney - twice in 2 matches, at ave 4.5!

    Morne's list is pretty long, 183 wickets long, with a 29.91 average. Not the best, but right next to Mitchel Johnson's 28.33, or Pattinson's 26.42. (Yeah - sorry, Patto's incredible start did not last long, like say… Philander.) Morne the bunny has a better ave than Nathon Lyon's 32.52, or Mitchell Starc's 33.66. (Another brilliant start, then downhill like a bobsled!)

    If Morne is "everyone's bunny," heaven help Aus if Johnson repeats his last SA tour: he averaged 85!

    ZCFOutkast. Myths, yes. Truth, not so much, sadly.

  • Greatest_Game on February 2, 2014, 6:39 GMT

    @ ZCFOutkast's mythology... part 2

    "Faf at four was a big mistake." Indeed - a 134 run, 395 minute, 309 ball match saving mistake! A "mistake" only because you wanted SA to LOSE, right?

    "AB conveniently hiding down the order... He should've batted at #4 at least." Yes, very convenient. SA didn't have to continue with him as an opener, where he did not flourish. It allowed Hashim Amla to grow & become the world's top ranked batsman at #3. It allowed Jacques Kallis to continue at #4, were he'd cemented his position since the 90's, & build one of the greatest of all batting records. Very convenient.

    AB was not "hiding," he was batting where his skipper & coach TOLD HIM TO BAT.

    For only 2 reasons can you be SO ABSOLUTELY WRONG: sheer ignorance, or deliberate misstatement of reality. Either way, your assertions are worthless.

    In Tolkein's mythology, trolls turn to stone when exposed to the light of the sun. On-line trolls fare no better in the bright light of statistical evidence!

  • Greatest_Game on February 2, 2014, 4:34 GMT

    @ ScottStevo wrote, regarding Eng's batting, "Our bowling has forced them out of form, yet somehow people seem to think that their form has no relationship with our bowling ability - how strange…"

    I dont disagree with you, but Eng batting was already shaky.

    In 2012 against Pak away they got 0 centuries in 6 inns, SL away 2 centuries in 4 inns, & SA at home 2 centuries 6 inngs. They narrowly escaped defeat in NZ, whose bowlers really troubled the Eng bats & exposed weakness against pace on wickets with any life, unlike the increasingly dead English tracks. Only Prior, Compton & Trott did anything in NZ.

    In the Eng Ashes, Bell alone stood between Aus bowlers & victory. If the Aus batting had not failed, Bell would not have been enough.

    By the time they faced a fired up Aus attack on wickets with something in them, they were flattened The Aus attack not only forced the poms completely out of form, but some, including Flower, out of their jobs! Dropping Compton was a masterstroke!

  • pat_one_back on February 2, 2014, 3:27 GMT

    Aust take a degree of advantage into this series from having come off b2b 5 test series, SA have had only a couple of 2 test series and have seen no quality pace of late, nets excluded of course. Broad and Ando weren't firing but we're hardly serving pies either. The SA attack v India was a lot looser than what Aust were serving Eng and regardless of past deeds they'll need to step up as a group, if you don't agree then I challenge how much cricket you've seen lately. With the strikepower fairly evenly matched, it could well be the containment of Lyon and Watto that makes the difference. Will Smith have the ability to rotate as shrewdly as Clarke has been? It looks likely Aust will generally be bowling fresher IF our batsmen can hold up their end of course...

  • CricketAlliance on February 2, 2014, 3:06 GMT

    South Africa are favourites in Aus if you ask me.

  • bren19 on February 2, 2014, 3:04 GMT

    It is simple - the winner will come down to who ever has the top order who stands up. Warner, Rogers, Clarke and Smith need to occupy the crease and score heavily for us to win. I also think that the SA attack will find out Watson (as every other attack has at test level). Having a number 7 or 8 ODI batsman batting at 3 is going to make it hard.

  • on February 2, 2014, 2:54 GMT

    I'm not the first to say it and I won't be the last, but why aren't these two teams playing a five test series? Will also be interesting to see which way the Aussie selectors go if Pattinson returns to full fitness and top form.

  • RednWhiteArmy on February 2, 2014, 2:48 GMT

    It has been a very long time since australia won a test on opposition soil.

  • on February 1, 2014, 23:34 GMT

    @Greatest_game thank you for the stats, perhaps people should get the facts straight before posting. since Perth (where he seems to enjoy his game at) he played 10 tests and scored five half centuries and five hundreds....not to mention he crossed the 50 mark in all those matches.

    AB's has 4 hundreds and 8 fifties in 17 matches against Aus.

  • __PK on February 1, 2014, 23:10 GMT

    Nice selective memory, Greatest_Game. Why start measuring ABD's record in Perth? Was that his first recent game as keeper? No, he was just abysmal with the bat before that time. And who was that against? Australia. Got it?

  • shanosV8 on February 1, 2014, 21:51 GMT

    As an Aussie fan, of course I hope we win in SA. But Clarkey, don't be making such comments about Aus being best bowling unit. Bowling not our worry mate, the batting is. As long as 'Good Mitch' has made the flight over ok, he will spearhead the bowling attack with great support from Harris, Siddle and co. Aus batting especially in 1st dig will be key to whether we compete with SA. Aus 1st dig batting in the recent Ashes was very poor. Our opening 1st innings partnership averaged just 20 - dreadful stuff (Warner out 1st 3 times, Rogers out 1st twice, so both to blame). So Warner and Rogers are far from a proven opening 'combination'. Next key stat - at 5 wickets down we averaged 142 runs on the board (would have been only 113 without Adelaide where we were 5/257). And it is Clarke who has to lead with the bat if we to have any hope in SA. MC's 1st innings ave Ashes was 38 - and that includes 148 in Adelaide. Without that score, 1st dig ave 11. Dramatic improvement required.

  • chechong0114 on February 1, 2014, 20:46 GMT

    If cricket nations like South Africa really desire to make the kind of money and earn the respect of nations like India and Australia financially, they need to do a better job in marketing the game in their country. For example, it is time that the rivalry between these two countries be upgraded to that of the Ashes status and this series should be nicknamed the" Confrontations Cup". These two teams play very fierce cricket against each other, they have alot of history between them and they are both known to be very confrontational in their match ups. Yet they are playing a 3 test match series against each other instead of 5 tests mainly because of poor crowd turn out and very little public interest especially at the grounds on game day. But with a little innovation and creativity that can be changed to see more financial success than what they both have been experiencing especially on South African soil. There is much potential between these 2 but they are not taking advantage of it.

  • Greatest_Game on February 1, 2014, 20:03 GMT

    @ Ozcricketwriter informs us "AB de Villiers playing as captain, best batsman and wicket keeper is a potential weakness."

    It may have escaped your attention that Graeme Smith is SA's test skipper, & has been for 11 years & 106 matches - the most in test history. Perhaps you did not closely follow cricket during that time? This then is a good chance for you to catch up on events since 2003!

    Another point to help your cricket writing is that de Villiers has a 'Dismissals per Innings' average (keeping ave) of 2.205 - 4th highest in history (10 + tests.) His batting ave since replacing Boucher is 65.23. Since Perth 2012 he scored over 50 in the 10 tests he played. Batting in 15 inngs he scored five 50s & five centuries, & totaled 1106 runs @ ave 79. As keeper he took 49 catches, made 2 stumpings, & equalled the "Most Dismissals in a Match" record of 11. He is doing all right as a batsman/keeper - no "potential weakness" there, especially as he is not the skipper. Graeme Smith is! Got it?

  • on February 1, 2014, 19:00 GMT

    @ AussiePhoenix we might not have a kallis anymore but we do have a faf who seems to have taken a liking to Australia, his average was begining to drop so this siries could not have come at a more apportune time to boost his confidence.

  • AussiePhoenix on February 1, 2014, 17:15 GMT

    I agree with a range of comments here. SA have the best bowlers, but the Oz bowling UNIT is strong. The way they bowl in partnerships to create wickets is a unique strength. For all the flack Lyon still gets, he is much better than any spinner SA will put up. Big Oz weakness is the batting of course, but SA have no Kallis and Amla has been quiet for a while, Smith's fingers will remember Johnson. I believe the deciding factor will be team's approach to winning. SA can be cautious , Oz will go for broke. Should be an exciting series, up and down for both teams from day to day. Oz 2-1

  • Soso_killer on February 1, 2014, 16:23 GMT

    @Mitty Vernon averages 22 away at a strike rate of 48. Of course its not as good as his average of 15 and strike rate of 39 in SA conditions. But this series is played in South Africa after all, lest we forget. I reckon most players would be more than happy averaging 22 every 48 balls as their overall record never mind averaging 18

  • CSpiers on February 1, 2014, 15:34 GMT

    Cracking series this one will be, best one test cricket has seen in a while.

  • on February 1, 2014, 15:33 GMT

    @Gordo85: Problem is even with all the options, they will go for rory if some one is down. With kallis gone saf cant afford to lose another key player to injury at this moment.

  • niazbhi on February 1, 2014, 15:24 GMT

    Australia's recent tour is different from this one. Steyn is great. As time passes Philander would not be as dangerous as he used to be. Morkel has height. He is not as aggressive as Johnson and Johnson is faster and being a left-hander gives it some variation. Watson and Faulkner would be playing the support bowlers. Their batting is so strong that it would like Aus is playing with 13 players. Maxwell/Smith and Lyon would be better than SA spinners. I want SA to win, but it would not be as easy. Morkel and Philander need to be at their best. SA need to play a fast bowler as the 4th.

  • ScottStevo on February 1, 2014, 15:20 GMT

    Undoubtedly Aus go into this series as underdogs. SA are the current #1 team; and rightly so. In Aus we couldn't finish them off and then suffered the consequences with a loss in a series we should never have lost. Nonetheless, to even get into those positions it took a Herculean effort from Clarke with the bat. Aus have a good history in SA, however, unless more of our top order stand up in the first innings, I can't see anything other than losses - regardless of the strength of our bowling. Scores like 47 after our bowlers do a magnificent job in rumbling SA for 96 cost us a win last outing in SA. I'm hoping there's enough confidence running through the side from this huge Ashes whitewash that we can post good enough totals to give our bowlers at least a fighting chance. Can't wait for it to begin!

  • Cricmaths123 on February 1, 2014, 15:14 GMT

    It would have been nice had Callum Ferguson been in the team as he is consistent and has a good technique. Now that he is not with the team my playing 11 would be:

    1. Warner 2. Rogers 3. Hughes/Doolan(whoever plays better in the warm up match will play) 4. Clarke 5. Smith 6. Watson 7. Haddin 8. Johnson 9. harris 10. Siddle 11. Lyon/Pattinson(depending on the conditions one of them will play).

  • ScottStevo on February 1, 2014, 15:12 GMT

    @THE_MIZ, a common misconception that they were all seriously out of form coming into this series. Aus made them out of form as, barring Bell, we pretty much nailed all of their top order in England even before turning up in Aus. It could be argued they hadn't batted well since India and NZ turned the screw. But Trott and Prior were their main men in NZ with Root, Cook and Trott in the return leg in Eng. So really, barring Pietersen who was injured for the Eng leg, they were all in form. Our bowling has forced them out of form, yet somehow people seem to think that their form has no relationship with our bowling ability - how strange...

  • ScottStevo on February 1, 2014, 15:02 GMT

    @Robbie Garden, that's hilarious! Not sure what you were watching, but at test level, Stokes is still ordinary at best. One decent innings from 8 isn't a good record for a number 6. Watson made 3 good scores in that time, a ton and what surely would've been a ton had Eng had a few more runs on the board to be chased and another half century. Watson's bowling was generally better too as he didn't bowl all over the shop like Stokes, albeit Stokes picked up a few wickets. The only player Stokes outperformed in the Aus side was Bailey, and even then it was only marginally. Don't be fooled into thinking he was any good purely on the basis that those around him were completely useless...

  • creebo777 on February 1, 2014, 14:58 GMT

    Expect abdv to be comfortable against johnson,aussies weakness is their batting,attack it by selecting both parnell and mclaren,drop robbie p,stop worring about their bowling

  • Hrolf on February 1, 2014, 14:57 GMT

    Should be an interesting series. Aus well suited to SA pitches. Re bowling - a fit Harris matches Steyn, Johnson at his best is probably better than Philander, Siddle matches Morne. SA batting a little fragile against Ind attack, and with Kallis gone, big whole to fill. Aus batting adequate and improving. Prediction - Aus to have better stats, but SA to get across the line. Philander for man of the series.

  • Gordo85 on February 1, 2014, 14:46 GMT

    I am sure even if a South African pace bowler did go down that they would still be ok and still could win the series.

    1.Kyle Abbott 2.Marchant de Lange 3.Beuran Hendricks

    Then after those three you could find a few more a First Class level : Shaheen Khan Dillon du Preez Ethan O'Reilly Hardus Viljoen Rowan Richards and Graham Hume to name a few.

  • AMMAR3438668158 on February 1, 2014, 14:42 GMT

    it is a great and thrilling series in which two mighty teams and superb players face each other and i really hope aussies take the series and continue their winning train. come on aussies and best of luck.

  • biggyd on February 1, 2014, 14:06 GMT

    number 1 and number 2 bowlers in the WORLD plays for….oz??? please. they are better mentally, thats all they got. it can be enough scarily. the bowler that will help oz most? wayne below-par nell. please put him back in the forget box.

  • ZkAneela on February 1, 2014, 13:41 GMT

    SA has got great batting unit than aussies and Aus should not take SA like England coz England is a completely different team compared to SA.. Eng didnt even came back once in whole ashes series while SA has great quality of coming back into the match which makes them no.1.

  • on February 1, 2014, 13:11 GMT

    Wow... congratulations everyone! These posts... all in all are a really high-class bunch for well reasoned arguments and opinions.

    Great change from the usual narrow-mindedness and baiting you usually find.

    I guess it reflects a mutual respect. It's gonna be a really close, hard-fought contest. SA have home ground advantage and a more solid batting line-up, Oz has... well, if not a better bowling line up, at least greater depth. They seem like a happier, more contented unit too.

    Anyway... bring it on!

  • ZCFOutkast on February 1, 2014, 13:04 GMT

    Clarke pulling a Mourinho here. Australia will blow the Proteas away. With Smith facing Johnson&Harris upfront I can't see him and Alviro doing better than Cook&Carberry. Faf at four was a big mistake. If Amla doesn't hit top form, and Duminy continues with his below par returns, then I doubt even AB conveniently hiding down the order will do much to help. Guys like Sanga&Andy Flower have batted higher up the order while keeping! He should've batted at #4 at least.

    On the flipside I think Warner is in his element now and Rogers has too much solidity to be affected too much by a fast regressing Steyn. I'm not putting too much money on Philander causing too much trouble at the first two grounds, while Morne's everyone's bunny. Weather permitting, I think Aus will make more declarations than they will get bowled out. The Proteas attack suffers from the same delusion that afflicted ENG. They think their attack is as good as it was! Only AUS seamers have other gears left to go!

  • on February 1, 2014, 13:02 GMT

    You proteas supporters shouldn't get too cocky, don't forget your 1st innings collapse in Jhb. Your batting can be a bit fragile, lost 5-16 (went from 130/1 to 146/6) against Ishant Sharma & co's medium pace lol. A bowler who was ridiculed and got Faulked in the ODI series. The very same attack then conceded 450 runs in the 4th innings...As for Clarke's comments about Aus bowlers, a little premature to determine but we'll know by the end of the series.

  • THE_MIZ on February 1, 2014, 13:01 GMT

    @ CM1000, to a certain degree I understand those sentiments. However, you need to bear in mind that England's "World-Class" batsmen were all out of form, barring perhaps Bell. Cook, Trott, Prior, Pietersen were already out of sorts heading to Oz and their superior bowling in that series (Brittle Aus batting as well) was the reason for the 3-0 victory...If not for Haddin's great escapes, Australia may not have been heading to SA with any confidence in their batting.

    I think both sets of supporters realise that this will be a closely-fought series. This is going to be an absolute cracker!

  • THE_MIZ on February 1, 2014, 12:47 GMT

    @Mitty, I find your comments are always sensible as opposed to the patriotic drivel that sometimes infests the comments section. Thumbs up! However, being a Saffa myself, I've (naturally) got to disagree with your Philander/Harris conclusion. While Ryan may have more pace (not excessively so), I would say Vern shades him in control& accuracy (in the McGrath mould).

    It is a myth that Vern struggles away from Home: He was the best SA bowler in the away contests (overshadowing even Steyn) in NZ (ave 15) & Eng ("turgid tracks" were dished up too...ave 23) AND had a good series on those roads in the UAE (ave 23)

    What people forget is that he played ONLY 2 tests in Aus. One poor INNINGS (Oz batted once) - which incidently remains his single blemish- AND 1 good test. Perhaps unfair to regard him as not good away?

    Harris is a champion bowler - may have been a great if not for injuries. BUT I feel that while Steyn has the whole package, Vern is deservedly the World's no.1

  • CM1000 on February 1, 2014, 12:31 GMT

    Everyone talking about the form of both sides in the last few years, and about world rankings, misses the point. Current form and confidence is what really matters, and this Australian attack is in phenomenal form and very confident. The way they bowled against England is the best I have seen from any international side for many years, including from this great South African attack. Cook, Trott, Pietersen and Bell went into that series as world class batsmen, but the unrelenting pressure and hostility from the five Australian bowlers meant there was no let up - they gave them virtually nothing. Even the very best batsmen in the world, including the great South African batsmen, will struggle if Australia bowl like that again. The problem for Australia is that they are still a batting collapse waiting to happen.

  • Batmanian on February 1, 2014, 12:31 GMT

    The concept of world's best attack is a good one as far as mindgames go. It subtly concedes that the individual bowlers may be shaded by Steyn and Philander, but somehow the unit will work together better. As individuals, Steyn and Philander may feel that they have something to prove - the best counter would be to work on their partnership bowling, though. Be interesting to see how Lyon is treated - he's bowled better lately, but RSA can destroy his confidence if they're willing to risk some aggression.

  • it_happened_last_in_2001. on February 1, 2014, 12:25 GMT

    @ Ozcricketwriter on (February 1, 2014, 7:29 GMT) Surely Smith will captain SA rather than De Villiers. With a bowling attack of Steyn/Phillander/Morkel plus 1 it's very brave of you to suggest that the strength of the Saffers lies in their batting. Haddin has just had the series of his life, but we mustn't forget he was gifted opportunities by England and seized them with both hands. Realistically how likely are the Saffers to drop an absolute sitter like Carberry did? Or have him caught behind off a no ball as also happened in the same innings. Luck over time evens itself out. The likes of De Villiers & Amla will bat with far more freedom than England did, because they know that whatever they score their bowlers will make a good fist of defending. The 6 out all out routine that has just happened to England could happen again, only this time you might be on the receiving end. Don't expect Steyn to smell blood and be unable to capitalise like the poms. should be a good contest.

  • spinkingKK on February 1, 2014, 12:09 GMT

    I think South African first string bowling attack is slightly superior to the Aussies. Aussies do have a better reserve bowling unit. But, the Aussie batting is far inferior to the South Africans. South Africa's main worry is if there was an injury to any of their fast bowlers. Barring any injuries, South Africa should win this series if they can be mentally tough to have a hard fight on hand. As one can see, even though I can predict a South African win, there are quite a lot of ifs and buts. Very much looking forward to the series. It is going to be a ripper.

  • StaalBurgher on February 1, 2014, 11:30 GMT

    Neither Oz or SA fans can claim to "know" what the result of this series will be. SA has home advantage, so they are rightfully favourites but this is sport and the teams are close enough that anything can happen. Really looking for forward to it. I just hope that if SA win this series that maybe they can get some acknowledgement for their performances over the past 5 years and get more decent Test series organized, even if that means we play away more than home.

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on February 1, 2014, 11:04 GMT

    SA Australia matches never disappoints a cricket fan , clarke is right Aussies have the edge in bowling but the difference in the class of batsmen is too much , Clarke will have to repeat his heroics from last time like when he scored that stunning 150 on one of the most difficult pitches .. an Australian attack with fit and in form ryan harris , mj , pattinson and cummins would have been great

  • StarveTheLizard on February 1, 2014, 11:00 GMT

    Clarke and Lehman have shown what an astute pair they can be. The English think tank had no chance. The fallout now includes Flower's resignation. It was pitiful to watch. I'm interested to see what their plans are for South Africa.

  • broken_chairs on February 1, 2014, 10:54 GMT

    of course SA are favourites... australia's done what, had a good victories against england and SL at home in the past year? after losing to SA at home and being crushed in england, that's not enough to be favourites for anything.

  • Shaggy076 on February 1, 2014, 10:45 GMT

    Reading Clarke statements he hasnt been outrageous at all. He states South Africa are favourites and a great side and then says in my biased opinon the aussies are the best bowlers in the world. If he didnt think that then he shouldnt be captain. What does everyone think he should say "We've come here to get our pants pulled down as not only do South Africa have the best attack they are also streets in front of us everywhere else". AUstralia has a big chance in this series and every SOuth African fan knows it, we went to SOuth Africa pretty much facing a South African side even better than the current one, with an Australian side weaker than the current one and we won that series. We went there two years ago and took on the might of this South African team with Kallis and came out with a draw. South Africa are number one and deservedly so, also they should definetely start favourites but Australia definetely go in with a live chance.

  • markatnotts on February 1, 2014, 10:44 GMT

    Should be a top series. The SA pace attack though is better, where Oz are ahead is in the spin bowling department where SA look dire (not that it hinders them particularly at home). I can't see Lyon having an opportunity to make a big impact unless Port Elizabeth is sluggish!

  • on February 1, 2014, 10:21 GMT

    Well it is the Saffers who have requested Johnson's bowling footage in order to tackle him. Not the other way around. If Johnson fires...

  • on February 1, 2014, 10:21 GMT

    South Africa vs. Australia! Always a treat.

    Steyn vs. Mitch. Philander vs. Harris. Morkel vs. Siddle.

    McLaren/Parnell (wish it was Kallis instead) vs. Watson. Amla vs. Clarke. Smith vs. Rogers. AbDv vs. Haddin.

    This is going to be THE series. The Top 2 teams in the world :)

    Cmon AUSTRALIA! OZZE OZZE OZZE! OiOiOi!

  • wonky on February 1, 2014, 9:59 GMT

    Well good luck with that statement Clarky ... SA has the best bowling attack and that's the end of it. Series is going to come down to which sides batters handle the others attack better. If SA's batters are in form ... its over

  • on February 1, 2014, 9:29 GMT

    It's a pretty brave person who states that Aus has the better bowling attack when going against the top 2 bowlers in the world and Morkel (at #12)...playing in HOME conditions. Just saying.

  • milepost on February 1, 2014, 9:24 GMT

    I have a feeling Australia will whitewash SA. They are happy to draw a match whereas Australia play to win. I won't go into hiding like @FFL if Australia lose either, it's just sport!

  • on February 1, 2014, 9:00 GMT

    The Aust vs Saf has been the most competitive test series i have seen in recent times. The best aspect of these teams is that they have no discernible home ground advantage when it comes to pitches. Both countries provide bouncy fast tracks and have bowling attacks to suit. The key to Australia will be Michael Clarke whose form has fallen away slightly and is the only Aust batsmen to be in the class of Amla and De Villier - or the vice versa, depending on who you follow.

  • Beertjie on February 1, 2014, 7:35 GMT

    You're right, @dunger.bob about playing not to lose. However, this is very different in the case of SAF in relation to other teams. That fight back against India in the first test is typical of their attitude. Backs to the walls stuff brings out the best in them every time. This makes them especially hard to beat or keep down. It's then that their evident class rises to the surface and they end up winning. It's not impressive but it get's the job done, at least it has done so far because there's not sufficient quality in the opposition line-ups. Can't see Aus. batting being good enough, frankly. I'll settle for 1-1 now.

  • Ozcricketwriter on February 1, 2014, 7:29 GMT

    South Africa's main strength is in batting, with Hashim Amla and A B de Villiers ranked 1 and 2 in the world, while Faf du Plessis has had great success in the handful of tests he has played so far. They will be sadly missing the recently retired Jacques Kallis though and A B de Villiers playing as captain, best batsman and wicket keeper is a potential weakness, though if Jacques Kallis is replaced by Quentin de Kock then this could be turned around into a strength. Australia will be sadly missing the injured James Faulkner and I sincerely hope that Moises Henriques doesn't get a game, let alone Phil Hughes. But that 6th batsman position is a serious weakness. Alex Doolan looks like the man most likely but it would have been much preferred had Faulkner been available. With Faulkner missing South Africa now start as favourites, but it is a lot closer than many think.

  • stonecoldb4u on February 1, 2014, 5:44 GMT

    aus have best bowling attack surely...MJ,harris,siddle,watson,lyon.....SA dont hav spinnr n allrounder....watson is very consistent n skiddy bowlr.....but surely SA hav best batting attack in world.....aus hav 1 quality batsman clarke...SA hav 4....so it will be best series.....2 best teams playing....i always have 1 doubt y SA dont perform to der level.....in recent series against india they performed not that good....india gave good contest to SA....we all know india is not avg team outside india......lets c who win....

  • FighterKallis on February 1, 2014, 5:08 GMT

    A year before Aus considered only siddle, pattinson and others as winners ,and mitch was thought of as a thrash. He came again even the team dint believe him. so its is not true that aus performed well,but england failed miserably. But southafrica is a different unit.smith amla devillers , faf can negotiate mitch and co . Do you think the likes of warner,rogers can face steyn and co. So it is 3-0 to the saffas without the King -------------Kallis of course

  • Testcricketistop on February 1, 2014, 4:27 GMT

    Dungerbib, on what do you ase that?

    Perhaps you being underwhelmed is merely because it isn't your country being at the top.

    Since 2007 we have a 2.84 win loss ratio, that does not suggest a team that is trying not to lose.

    37 wins, 13 losses, 15 draws.

  • ygkd on February 1, 2014, 2:39 GMT

    This is shaping as THE series, especially after the insipid performances England put in lately. It is hard to know exactly how good Australia are, England were pathetic. South Africa are in different league though and any statements about Australia's attack being the best are soon to be properly tested. Sure, with Johnson firing, Harris fit and Lyon settling in, Australia are no easy-beats. However, Clarke saying "What I've seen from the Australian fast bowlers over a long period of time" is not all that encouraging. If it is to be a good series, we need recent form to continue, not the previous stuff....

  • Mitty2 on February 1, 2014, 2:13 GMT

    Continued, to try and escape with some objectivity: SA's pace trio have been brilliant for so long now, and really are only let down by the lack of an adequate spinner. The fact that they win so many matches without a good spinner is really a testament to their brilliance. Morkel's more consistent now and is a huge menace to left handers with his bounce and away seam; Steyn's not only the best quick of this generation but also the best to watch - the action is so perfect and smooth, and to be so accurate and be able to swing it at 140km/h is amazing. I watched a fair bit of the India v SA series, and his turnaround was fantastic. His spell against Pak (6/8?) is one of, if not the best fast bowling spells I've ever seen. Plus he has a good record against Clarke if I'm not mistaken. Vernon I've mentioned, he's the whole package.

    As good as we were against England, to take 100 wickets is truly fantastic - plus the plans were brilliant - our bowlers aren't better. Lyon makes it close tho.

  • Mitty2 on February 1, 2014, 2:07 GMT

    Vernon Philander averages 15 at home. What was it that Hussey called him in SA - something like an "absolute nightmare" on these decks? Anyway, this is a dreadfully biased comment from me, but I'll go ahead, what Vernon Philander has, Ryan Harris has plus more - unrelenting accuracy, skiddy bounce and movement both ways is what they both have, but Harris has more pace and is more practiced and more effective on flat decks. I say effective in that Vernon took 4 wickets at 50 in Aus in his only test series, and simply hasn't been as good away as at home. Harris was the leading wicket taker in England on those turgid tracks and on the true but pacey tracks of Aus he was as effective. I should probably stop now, as Philander's still number 1, but I reckon Harris is just as good.

    Where Clarke is wrong, however, is in the consistency. At their peak, Siddle, MJ and Harris are THE best and a beautifully balanced trio, but they haven't proved that like SA have over numerous years.

  • Thegimp on February 1, 2014, 2:02 GMT

    Gosh, we have seen this before. Just 5 months ago many many Eng fans chirping about 5-0 to England. Oh how the mighty fall. SA will be very worried, Aust have nothing to lose and we all know SA history. Now should we talk about World Cup Semi finals anyone???

  • dunger.bob on February 1, 2014, 1:01 GMT

    The stats and rankings don't lie. South Africa is clearly the best Test team in the game. The gap between them and the rest is massive when you look at the ICC Test rankings. They've got more than their share of the top bowlers and batsmen as well. I understand and accept all that but I must be a hard man to please because there's something completely under-whelming about the Saffers in my view.

    I can't put my finger on it, but there's something about them that leaves me cold. Maybe it's their attitude or something. They seem FAR more interested in not loosing than actually winning. It might seem as small thing but there's a massive difference in my book.

    Anyway, this promises to be a cracking series and I just hope our boys can shake the Saffers up a bit.

  • Biggus on February 1, 2014, 0:44 GMT

    No doubt the Saffers rightly start as favourites, they are number 1, they're at home, and we are still in the process of rising from the ashes (sorry for the pun) of one of the lowest periods in our cricket history. We know the Saffers and they know us, there will be a tough contest and some good cricket for us to watch. That's about all it's wise to say at the moment, no great Nostradamus prediction from me. I wonder what sort of pitches they'll give us? I suspect we'll see some pretty green ones. No complaints from me though, Ryan Harris in his current form would be close to unplayable on such a track, so it would be potentially a double edged sword. We are in for a treat Ladies and Gentlemen, kindly buckle your seat belts and prepare to be entertained. If both sides fire we will see the series of the year.

  • Greatest_Game on February 1, 2014, 0:31 GMT

    Look guys, Clarke can't just come out and state the obvious. As a skipper he has to back his team. He can't stand up and say "well we all know that SA's attack will eat ours for breakfast." Clarke has problems It is tough having to go on tour with a bloke with only one knee who is a truly great bowler but always one ball from retiring, a brilliant but mentally fragile left arm quick who is devastating once every few years for 5 games max & after that sucks again, a mouthy kid who spends more time looking at the mirror than thinking about cricket & who breaks down if you look at him too hard, a bloke with the heart of a lion but the speed of a mule, a gaggle of on again off again had a good match here & there 2nd string rookies, an all-rounder who break down all around the world except when the IPL is on, & a spinner who was once dropped for a 19 year old non-spinner as a cunning start to a horrible Ashes series ! And to top it off, this is his best batting too!

    Clarke has a tough job.

  • Wefinishthis on January 31, 2014, 23:41 GMT

    IF the Johnson that turned up in the recent ashes series bowls exactly the same (unlikely) AND the wicket offers turn for Lyon/O'Keefe AND the Australian selectors get the selections right for the conditions, only THEN Australia has the best attack in the world. Unfortunately Johnson will never have a series like that again and when South Africa have statistically two of the greatest fast bowlers in history (Steyn/Philander), let alone in recent times, you just know that Australia better get used to some regular sub-200 scores unless the pitch ends up flatter and truer than Adelaide. Having said that, South Africa is now missing Kallis which drastically weakens their batting AND puts more pressure and workload on the bowlers. Smith, Amla, Du Plessis and De Villiers are still a world-class batting lineup, once rivalled by England, but now only rivalled by India. With confidence, a settled batting lineup and the right bowling selections however, Australia is as ready as they'll ever be.

  • AidanFX on January 31, 2014, 23:39 GMT

    They have not lost since 5 years ago - they should get more recognition as a power house team by now. Of, course they are favourites. Too early to say Oz have a better bowling lineup and SA get the nod right now for sustained performance as a bowling unit, though they lack a spinner and have lost Kallis. Notably the SA batting lineup is proven, OZ are on their way to establishing theirs and are as close as they have been for some time, but they are not there yet.

  • Nerk on January 31, 2014, 23:12 GMT

    Clarkey my boy, it has been one series at home. That is not enough to start crowing about how good your attack is. Sound like an Indian captain. The bowling attack of Steyn, Philander and Morkel is outstanding. They are very regimented and highly skilled, however they seem to lack flair and the ability to counter when things are going against them. SA also lack a spinner, which is an important factor just to break up the pace. Aus have three experienced bowlers. Each bring something different. Siddle hits the deck. Harris swings the ball and Johnson, well, he is Johnson. He'll win the match for you or the opposition. Lyon is a dangerman, and may tie down the SA batsmen. SA need to hit him out of the game. This is shaping up to be a great series, and a true test of Clarke as captain and this bowling outfit.

  • heathrf1974 on January 31, 2014, 23:07 GMT

    What needs to happen is for our batsman to perform. If they don't we are no chance. Watson is on notice.

  • morgan_gibson87 on January 31, 2014, 22:13 GMT

    Poor old Peter Siddle. What does he have to do to earn the respect of the casual cricket fan? He has been Australia's standout bowler, extremely consistent and an absolute workhorse since his induction into the Test side. Here are some stats to back that assertion up:

    His career average is a very healthy 28.68. But since Nov 2011, his average improves to 26.49. He takes very few five (and no ten) wicket halls, meaning his output is very reliable and consistent. Keep in mind this is in the context of a largely very average Australian team, where he's often had quite inconsistent support. He's also extremely fit and rarely injured.

    Finally, he is currently ranked number 6 on the ICC list of test bowlers.

    Honestly, this guy needs more respect from the average (Australian) cricket fan; he should be the first bowler picked!

  • chicko1983 on January 31, 2014, 21:38 GMT

    This is going to be one of the great series like windiest tour in 1995 which ended up being a shift in power for the Aussies to be the undisputed no.1 team for 20 years. South Africans will look to past records and laugh off the Aussie side, but on most recent test form the Aussies have the advantage. A lot of SA supporter comments remind me of the England supporter comments prior to the recent ashes series, they have the better bowlers, batsmen and keeper. All of them were blown out of the water. Watch out SA with Amla out of form, no kallis, smith v Mitch, and ab, morne and steyn coming off injuries. Aussies to win 2-1.

  • Adoh on January 31, 2014, 21:36 GMT

    If you use the ICC ratings and rankings to determine who has the better batting and bowling units it does suggest this is going to be a good competition. The top 6 SA batsmen just edge out Australia on the ratings (by approx 4 percent), but loose out to Australia on the rankings. The top 5 bowlers from SA are behind Australia by approx 14 percent on the ratings, and loose out to Australia significantly on the rankings. If this were a paper excercise, Australia would dominate. But we all know, Australia just trounced England who looked much better on paper. This is going to be a great series...cant wait.

  • Greatest_Game on January 31, 2014, 21:00 GMT

    South Africa has the players it needs to demolish the Aussies. Unfortunately, the SA selectors will persist in refusing to select them. They include never been/has beens like Thami Tsolokile instead of a phenomenal talent like Quinton de Kock, claiming he is "too young" which is a euphemism, not the truth.

    They will insist on picking a spinner who gets thrashed much more often than not, instead of going with SA's strength and picking an all pace attack - 5 of them. That might pose some problems for Aus' somewhat brittle batting order?

    They will insist on picking a so-called all-rounder who would not make the team as a batsman or a bowler, instead of picking a top notch batsman, or bowler. Philander is a better all-rounder than the all-rounders, anyway!

    I'm making no excuses: if Aus win it is a fair win, done deal, no excuses. But, I'd really like to see the best SA team play. Then again I'd like to see the ICC an egalitarian organisation, not a monopoly!

  • Greatest_Game on January 31, 2014, 20:36 GMT

    @ David_Boon wrote "If Mitchell Johnson bowls like he did against England South Africa are finished."

    If Mitchell Johnson bowls like he did the last time Aus toured SA, in 201, Aus are finished. Johnson averaged 85, conceded more than any of the other full time bowlers, and had the worst strike rate. Amazingly, he bowled the most overs!

  • amfas on January 31, 2014, 20:23 GMT

    South Africa is a great unit, but the loss of Kallis and no decent spinner may just level the playing field more than South African supporters would like to think. The Kallis comfort zone has always been their rock. Will be an interesting series for the cricket purists from both countries.

  • barryrichardsfan on January 31, 2014, 18:58 GMT

    It definitely smells as a series to be dominated by the high quality bowlers in both the sides. Although the hosts have an edge in familiar conditions but Johnson-Harris-Siddle trio seems fully capable of troubling the likes of Amla, AB and du Plessis, Smith on any day. Australia have best chances if Smith and Clarke fire. Going to be an exciting contest.

  • Anubrata29 on January 31, 2014, 18:47 GMT

    Well aus have the better spinner in lyon but sa's pace bowling is the best in the world especially at home. Two very similar sides..expecting some juicy pitches..promises to be a fantastic series. Series really should have been a 5-test one..or atleast four. Cricket boards all over the world are a total joke as far as scheduling test matches are concerned.

  • on January 31, 2014, 17:23 GMT

    Mitchel has a had a couple of good series about 3 or 4 over the years which makes for fascinating watching. When he is on form, because of his action and being a leftie with quick pace it is a marvel. That being said, he is an average bowler at best when you look at the entirety of his career. I support SA, they exceptional but I fully expect them to stuff this thing up good and solid and it won't be Mitchel doing the damage. My hope though is that this 5th year becomes 6th then 7th until a record is broken number of years without losing a series.

  • Beertjie on January 31, 2014, 17:16 GMT

    @ফেক কোডার, I watched a couple of the tests when these countries last met in a five test series 47 years ago (3-1 to SAF). All true cricket lovers would love this to happen but it won't for the foreseeable future (although I note Eng. and Ind. will meet in a series of that length within a few months). How sad for test cricket!

  • on January 31, 2014, 16:29 GMT

    At last saf is facing a team that can match them, its safe to say it will be a fantastic series, not an one sided one like recent ashes. It would be great if it were a 5 test series.

  • Highflyer_GP on January 31, 2014, 16:28 GMT

    Seems like Clarke needs to instil confidence in his bowlers if he needs to keep repeating this. The South African bowlers KNOW that they're the best in the world, and don't need their captain to say so.

  • xylo on January 31, 2014, 16:22 GMT

    Australia has a better bowling attack - this statement comes with a * that reads "under ideal conditions". The biggest threat comes from the scratchy Aussie batsmen though. Warner fizzles out when the ball starts swinging, and most of the batting has to be carried through by his opening partner, Clarke and Haddin. Compare this against the giants in the SA side. Where Australia have an edge though, is in their aggressive result-oriented attitude against the boring defensive safety-first and safety-last SAffas.

  • on January 31, 2014, 16:09 GMT

    Absolute Gold! Iffat, I don't know what Tests you've been watching, but Stokes is way better than Watson at Test level. SA don't have a spinner so you can play Hughes anywhere in the line up and he is more likely to score runs than at least half the current mob. If we go 4 or 5 down for bugger all, like we did in most of the first innings against the Poms, SA will destroy us. Thank god Marsh was cut, he's got nothing and Clarkey knows it. Good work on over-ruling the selectors. Hopefully won't rest on our laurels and keep Siddle. Our best attack, and everyone knows it, includes Harris, Johnson and Pattinson. If everyone was fit Siddle would be about the th or th choice behind the big 3 and BirdCummins, Starc, Bollinger, Cutting and Coulter

  • on January 31, 2014, 16:09 GMT

    If SA bowl as well as they have in the past, then Aussies will be as finished as David Boons career. Lol

  • on January 31, 2014, 15:50 GMT

    i think it will be very difficult for the Johnson and co ...because Africa has some gr8 batting legends. ..like Hashim amla ab de and so on

    rember faf du inning against india as well as against Australia on his debut

  • bowledout67 on January 31, 2014, 15:45 GMT

    @ David_Boon....all it took for england to get a hold of mitchell johnson in the odi's was a couple of big shots and vouala.....he went for more than 6 an over and picked up just 1 wicket....so if south africa follow queue in which they should.... then Australias attack could be in for a really long bowl...... Peter Siddle should have fond memories of bowling at South Africa.

  • David_Boon on January 31, 2014, 14:54 GMT

    If Mitchell Johnson bowls like he did against England South Africa are finished.

  • CricketMaan on January 31, 2014, 14:46 GMT

    Finally a tour where teams starts even in thier set up! Aus and SA are both strong with certain match winning individuals. After the one sided tours we have recently seen apart from the matches in UAE most of it has been very one sided!

  • on January 31, 2014, 14:24 GMT

    My AUSSIE team for SA

    1)David Warner 2)Chris Rogers 3)Shane Watson 4)Michael Clarke 5)Steve Smith 6)Alex Doolan 7)Brad Haddin 8)Mitchell Johson 9)Ryan Harris 10)Peter Siddle & 11)Nathan Lyon

    Look Watto has been performing very well at no.3 pos so y would you remove him from no3 and play him at no6 which is not an usual position for him.We cant compare him with Ben Stokes he is far better than Stokes.I kindly request the selectors to play Watto at 3 and dools at 6.I left out Hughes because he has number of problems with short balls against spinner.Its time to give dools a go his age is already 28 this is the perfect time for him to start his test career.

  • on January 31, 2014, 14:24 GMT

    My AUSSIE team for SA

    1)David Warner 2)Chris Rogers 3)Shane Watson 4)Michael Clarke 5)Steve Smith 6)Alex Doolan 7)Brad Haddin 8)Mitchell Johson 9)Ryan Harris 10)Peter Siddle & 11)Nathan Lyon

    Look Watto has been performing very well at no.3 pos so y would you remove him from no3 and play him at no6 which is not an usual position for him.We cant compare him with Ben Stokes he is far better than Stokes.I kindly request the selectors to play Watto at 3 and dools at 6.I left out Hughes because he has number of problems with short balls against spinner.Its time to give dools a go his age is already 28 this is the perfect time for him to start his test career.

  • CricketMaan on January 31, 2014, 14:46 GMT

    Finally a tour where teams starts even in thier set up! Aus and SA are both strong with certain match winning individuals. After the one sided tours we have recently seen apart from the matches in UAE most of it has been very one sided!

  • David_Boon on January 31, 2014, 14:54 GMT

    If Mitchell Johnson bowls like he did against England South Africa are finished.

  • bowledout67 on January 31, 2014, 15:45 GMT

    @ David_Boon....all it took for england to get a hold of mitchell johnson in the odi's was a couple of big shots and vouala.....he went for more than 6 an over and picked up just 1 wicket....so if south africa follow queue in which they should.... then Australias attack could be in for a really long bowl...... Peter Siddle should have fond memories of bowling at South Africa.

  • on January 31, 2014, 15:50 GMT

    i think it will be very difficult for the Johnson and co ...because Africa has some gr8 batting legends. ..like Hashim amla ab de and so on

    rember faf du inning against india as well as against Australia on his debut

  • on January 31, 2014, 16:09 GMT

    If SA bowl as well as they have in the past, then Aussies will be as finished as David Boons career. Lol

  • on January 31, 2014, 16:09 GMT

    Absolute Gold! Iffat, I don't know what Tests you've been watching, but Stokes is way better than Watson at Test level. SA don't have a spinner so you can play Hughes anywhere in the line up and he is more likely to score runs than at least half the current mob. If we go 4 or 5 down for bugger all, like we did in most of the first innings against the Poms, SA will destroy us. Thank god Marsh was cut, he's got nothing and Clarkey knows it. Good work on over-ruling the selectors. Hopefully won't rest on our laurels and keep Siddle. Our best attack, and everyone knows it, includes Harris, Johnson and Pattinson. If everyone was fit Siddle would be about the th or th choice behind the big 3 and BirdCummins, Starc, Bollinger, Cutting and Coulter

  • xylo on January 31, 2014, 16:22 GMT

    Australia has a better bowling attack - this statement comes with a * that reads "under ideal conditions". The biggest threat comes from the scratchy Aussie batsmen though. Warner fizzles out when the ball starts swinging, and most of the batting has to be carried through by his opening partner, Clarke and Haddin. Compare this against the giants in the SA side. Where Australia have an edge though, is in their aggressive result-oriented attitude against the boring defensive safety-first and safety-last SAffas.

  • Highflyer_GP on January 31, 2014, 16:28 GMT

    Seems like Clarke needs to instil confidence in his bowlers if he needs to keep repeating this. The South African bowlers KNOW that they're the best in the world, and don't need their captain to say so.

  • on January 31, 2014, 16:29 GMT

    At last saf is facing a team that can match them, its safe to say it will be a fantastic series, not an one sided one like recent ashes. It would be great if it were a 5 test series.