Australia in South Africa 2013-14 February 10, 2014

Kallis replacement could hold key to series

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Somewhere between Centurion, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, Australia will post a big partnership that none of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander will be able to break. They will get frustrated or tired or both. The person whom Graeme Smith hands the ball when that happens could end up playing a defining role in the series.

In the past, that person was Jacques Kallis. Think back to Australia's tour to South Africa in 2008-09. After beating South Africa by 162 runs in Johannesburg, Australia were piling on the pain in the second Test in Durban. Phil Hughes and Simon Katich's opening stand had ballooned to 184.

Kallis was in the midst of his second spell. He pitched one short and wide - an innocuous ball really - and Hughes could not resist. He went for the cut and Neil McKenzie collected the catch at gully.

The rest of that match was forgettable for both Kallis and South Africa. Kallis was struck on the jaw by Mitchell Johnson, who also broke Smith's hand for the second time earlier that day. Kallis scored 22 in the first innings and 93 in the second. Still, South Africa lost the match by 175 runs and the series as a result. They are yet to beat Australia in a home series since readmission.

Kallis' Test retirement late last year means he will not be part of a South African side that could change that pattern. But the person who takes his place could be. By implication, that person could be one of the most discussed players in this series and one of the most important for South Africa.

The South African management and players have taken great pains to repeat as often as they can that Kallis is not being replaced because that is impossible. So it helps that the new entrant into the XI will not at No.4. That is Faf du Plessis' job and he has already proved he deserves it.

After his maiden century in Adelaide, he showed his ability to bat time and bat in a bubble, just like Kallis. Despite a lean patch throughout 2013, he cemented his spot with another match-saving century, against India. He will be a man Australia want to remove, especially with memories of November 2012 still fresh, but he may not be their main focus.

Instead, it will either be Wayne Parnell or Ryan McLaren whom Australia identify as a candidate to exploit. Neither has played much Test cricket - Parnell has played three Tests, McLaren one - and neither has played much long-form cricket recently. They only played one first-class match each this summer.

Although they have credentials - Parnell is quick, offers the left-armer variation in angle and is an aggressive bat, while McLaren is more of what you see is what you get, and what you get is reliability - neither would have been expected to play a key role in a series of this magnitude before. The sense of occasion may be the first thing they need to overcome to avoid being overwhelmed and that will be the second major talking point.

Allan Donald said the South African camp last felt this buzz when they played England for the No.1 ranking in July 2012. South Africa have prepared for this series in a similar way too. Then, they spent time in Switzerland bonding over bungee jumping; now they had a bush retreat to help them reconnect and do their bit to save the rhinos.

Hashim Amla called the feeling "no different," to any other series against Australia, and that is the point. Any series against Australia is different by itslef, as almost every other player who has spoken to the media has explained. They call Australia the team they find toughest to tussle with. They describe Australia's players as competitive, as players who play the game hard on the field and whom they enjoy having a drink with off it. There's a sense of camaraderie between the squads but banter is still a given. Both have helped hype this up as a clash of the titans.

When Australia lost the Ashes 3-0 in England, some of the talk in South Africa was that they would be easy picking come this tour. South Africans watched from afar as Australia gained momentum. For once, they had reason to celebrate the Australian rise because it signaled the team would come to South Africa ready for a fight instead of still being in their rebuilding phase.

Now that Australia have actually arrived a fully formed product, there are some nerves too. Johnson is back and more menacing than he was when he sent Smith to the surgeon. Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle complete their trio of quicks. The battle of the bowlers appears a tight one to call in the lead-up, which means the batsmen will have all it all to do. That is where South Africa feel they have the advantage.

Although Australia's batsmen between them scored 10 centuries in the 5-0 whitewash of England, they are still seen as over-reliant on Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin. With Shane Watson out of the first Test and a worry for the rest of the series, that leaves them even more vulnerable. On South African pitches, which have considerable sideways movement particularly when compared to Australia's, the home side believes the advantage could be skewed their way.

But Australia insist the absence of Kallis could change that. A 13000-run sized hole would deplete any batting line-up. Somewhere between Centurion, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town in the next month, South Africa may also discover whether and how quickly they can fill that.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SixFourOut on February 11, 2014, 23:01 GMT

    I think the game will be won and lost on weak links.

    Australia - Phil Hughes, Smith, Lyon and Rogers are not yet established players.

    SA: A Peterson, Du Plessis, Duminy and R Peterson are all yet to prove themselves over a long period.

    Duminy's batting average goes done every year.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 11, 2014, 12:28 GMT

    @AltafPatel Your understanding seems pretty limited. The currently settled (until Watson did a Watson) Australian lineup is not the same as the ones that played both of those series', especially in regards to some of the key players. Also England produced some slow turners to assist Swann, and India is admittedly not where we play our best cricket. If you think those results are fair comparisons to what is coming up you're sorely mistaken.

    There's a reason that SA have never beaten Aus in SA since re-inception but in the same period beat Australia in Australia. It's because the conditions are very similar and suit both sides. It's all good and well to look at recent form, but some of your assumptions based on what happened in England and India are pretty farcical. Especially the ones in India, pretty different side and the conditions are so far apart they are not comparable in any way, shape or form. The home Ashes is actually the most comparable conditions to what's coming up next.

  • on February 11, 2014, 12:26 GMT

    The more i look at the teams the more SA firm up as favourites. Our batting looks fragile - more then usual.To be competitive i suspect that one of our openers, probably Rogers will have to be in the form of their lives. Clarke is due for runs but will need some help. Smith and Haddin cannot continually saving Aust, and the newcomers - Hughes, Marsh etc...we will have to have our fingers crossed with them. Having never beaten Aust at home since readmission we might well see SA fire up and play some of their very best cricket.

  • creebo777 on February 11, 2014, 11:55 GMT

    Both parnell and mclaren should play tomorrow , pitch doesnt suit spin much...all pace attack,

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 11, 2014, 11:54 GMT

    Just want to add that I think the headline of this article is ridiculous. In my opinion even if you just removed Kallis entirely and didn't replace him, and just left SA with a substitute fielder to make up the 11 I still think they'd have a far superior and consistent batting lineup despite being one short, and obviously the bowling lineups would pretty much a dead heat (I refer only to my impossible example). Given that, how can the replacement for Kallis be the key to the series? t's simply not possible. The remaining 10 should be enough to defeat Australia in a 3 test series, such is the gulf in batting. If SA do lose the series it will have taken a mighty effort from Australia no matter who takes Kallis' place, or even if nobody did.

    I think SA have the enviable position Aus did when they ran rampant. A spare slot to blood a new young player and give him a decent run regardless of results, even if he fails for 20 tests, without really risking top spot or series wins.

  • AltafPatel on February 11, 2014, 11:53 GMT

    McLarren and deKock are in excellent form now a days. Wish both of them get chance and wish neither Duminy nor Parnel get the chance.

  • AltafPatel on February 11, 2014, 11:52 GMT

    @Vinay Kolhatkar It's true Albie was good player but his time is up, particularly for longer formats including ODIs as well. He is good for IPL, T20s but not for other formats.

  • AltafPatel on February 11, 2014, 11:51 GMT

    Smith hadn't made any verbal statement against Aus that means they are completely prepared, confident and mentally very strong. Though Aus won 5-0 in Ashes, their away record is not supporting them like losing 0-3 in Eng and 0-4 whitewash in India not more than a year ago.

  • AltafPatel on February 11, 2014, 11:49 GMT

    Though deKock wasn't in plan for tests till WC 2014, sudden retirement of Kallis and big series against in-form Australia means to include him particularly when Duminy has been completely unsure of form. I wish they drop Duminy and take some veteran like Rudolph, Prince etc.

  • TheCricketeer on February 11, 2014, 11:39 GMT

    @Testcricketistop - Domingo and Smith have quite a limited say in the squad selection - but a much bigger say in the final 11. I believe there input into the squad is more based around what kind of players they want and they dont get to select who those are. But from the squad they have the primary say in the final side. (Thats my understanding anyway).

  • SixFourOut on February 11, 2014, 23:01 GMT

    I think the game will be won and lost on weak links.

    Australia - Phil Hughes, Smith, Lyon and Rogers are not yet established players.

    SA: A Peterson, Du Plessis, Duminy and R Peterson are all yet to prove themselves over a long period.

    Duminy's batting average goes done every year.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 11, 2014, 12:28 GMT

    @AltafPatel Your understanding seems pretty limited. The currently settled (until Watson did a Watson) Australian lineup is not the same as the ones that played both of those series', especially in regards to some of the key players. Also England produced some slow turners to assist Swann, and India is admittedly not where we play our best cricket. If you think those results are fair comparisons to what is coming up you're sorely mistaken.

    There's a reason that SA have never beaten Aus in SA since re-inception but in the same period beat Australia in Australia. It's because the conditions are very similar and suit both sides. It's all good and well to look at recent form, but some of your assumptions based on what happened in England and India are pretty farcical. Especially the ones in India, pretty different side and the conditions are so far apart they are not comparable in any way, shape or form. The home Ashes is actually the most comparable conditions to what's coming up next.

  • on February 11, 2014, 12:26 GMT

    The more i look at the teams the more SA firm up as favourites. Our batting looks fragile - more then usual.To be competitive i suspect that one of our openers, probably Rogers will have to be in the form of their lives. Clarke is due for runs but will need some help. Smith and Haddin cannot continually saving Aust, and the newcomers - Hughes, Marsh etc...we will have to have our fingers crossed with them. Having never beaten Aust at home since readmission we might well see SA fire up and play some of their very best cricket.

  • creebo777 on February 11, 2014, 11:55 GMT

    Both parnell and mclaren should play tomorrow , pitch doesnt suit spin much...all pace attack,

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 11, 2014, 11:54 GMT

    Just want to add that I think the headline of this article is ridiculous. In my opinion even if you just removed Kallis entirely and didn't replace him, and just left SA with a substitute fielder to make up the 11 I still think they'd have a far superior and consistent batting lineup despite being one short, and obviously the bowling lineups would pretty much a dead heat (I refer only to my impossible example). Given that, how can the replacement for Kallis be the key to the series? t's simply not possible. The remaining 10 should be enough to defeat Australia in a 3 test series, such is the gulf in batting. If SA do lose the series it will have taken a mighty effort from Australia no matter who takes Kallis' place, or even if nobody did.

    I think SA have the enviable position Aus did when they ran rampant. A spare slot to blood a new young player and give him a decent run regardless of results, even if he fails for 20 tests, without really risking top spot or series wins.

  • AltafPatel on February 11, 2014, 11:53 GMT

    McLarren and deKock are in excellent form now a days. Wish both of them get chance and wish neither Duminy nor Parnel get the chance.

  • AltafPatel on February 11, 2014, 11:52 GMT

    @Vinay Kolhatkar It's true Albie was good player but his time is up, particularly for longer formats including ODIs as well. He is good for IPL, T20s but not for other formats.

  • AltafPatel on February 11, 2014, 11:51 GMT

    Smith hadn't made any verbal statement against Aus that means they are completely prepared, confident and mentally very strong. Though Aus won 5-0 in Ashes, their away record is not supporting them like losing 0-3 in Eng and 0-4 whitewash in India not more than a year ago.

  • AltafPatel on February 11, 2014, 11:49 GMT

    Though deKock wasn't in plan for tests till WC 2014, sudden retirement of Kallis and big series against in-form Australia means to include him particularly when Duminy has been completely unsure of form. I wish they drop Duminy and take some veteran like Rudolph, Prince etc.

  • TheCricketeer on February 11, 2014, 11:39 GMT

    @Testcricketistop - Domingo and Smith have quite a limited say in the squad selection - but a much bigger say in the final 11. I believe there input into the squad is more based around what kind of players they want and they dont get to select who those are. But from the squad they have the primary say in the final side. (Thats my understanding anyway).

  • TheCricketeer on February 11, 2014, 11:37 GMT

    @Basil777 - Tahir has had plenty of chances. Twice he has completely melted down and bowled like an u12 b player. Once or twice has has performed well and the rest of the time has been maybe aproaching average. I love his passion and I love how he wears his heart on his sleave but he should never see a test cap again.

  • fayyaz03 on February 11, 2014, 11:05 GMT

    South Africa are inches ahead in the bowling department and miles ahead in the batting department. So Aussie fans, all the best to you but please face the reality. That was mediocre england who was even white washed by Pakistan. This is mighty South Africa who loves to beat opponents in away series. This time they are at their own backyard. Stay hopeful. But dont over expect the results. Long live cricket!

  • dunger.bob on February 11, 2014, 10:51 GMT

    South Africa are as solid as a rock mentally these days I think. They don't lose series any more. They seem to find a way and that's what good sides do. Solid, dependable and reliable and almost never play a bad game. Even their worst games usually end in draws so they have the bar set pretty high as a matter of course. When they really get it together and play at their best they'll just brush sides away, sort of like wipers on a windscreen. .. Overall, we've got our work cut out for us.

    We're Jekyll & Hyde. If nice old Dr. Jekyll turns up SA will barely need to get out of second gear. Our batting will fiddle its way straight to hell and the bowlers won't get a fair rest between innings. Goodnight Irene if that happens. .. If the other one turns up there could be some fireworks though. Being an Aussie I'm definitely hoping for a visit from Mr. Hyde but won't be surprised if the other thing happens.

    Keep it clean and fair boys and let's go!!

  • bowledout67 on February 11, 2014, 10:37 GMT

    we only need parnell to break a couple a bones in the Aus line up Reuben.....whether his expensive or takes wickets i dont really care.....

  • UnlimitedLFB on February 11, 2014, 10:30 GMT

    @ Xolile.. Boss why are we looking for a wicket keeper?? We already have someone who is one of the best wicket keepers in the world and he can bat a bit…lol… while I have no problem with De Kock playing for SA but he should not be there as a wicket keeper, AB has that role covered, he needs to make the playing eleven as a specialist batsman and a backup gloves man first

  • on February 11, 2014, 10:20 GMT

    Albie Morkel deserves to be in the team as a batting allrounder.

  • on February 11, 2014, 10:15 GMT

    The Watson and Faulkner injuries are massive. I think we should play Henriques who's FC record is essentially 30/30 and if he could bring something close to that, he'd be handy.

    I also greatly prefer Hughes to Marsh or Doolan.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 11, 2014, 10:14 GMT

    @ziggy500 Your preferred lineup for Australia looks like a recipe for disaster to me. Sure you're an Aussie fan?

  • Oliver_Kirsten on February 11, 2014, 10:07 GMT

    @ Dark Man X - It seems as if you have not been watching test cricket in quite a while. If this current SA test team have shown one thing it is that they handle pressure better than any other test team out there. Their immense mental toughness is best illustrated by G. Smith's 4th innings test record. And more recently by the same resolve shown by others like Faf du Plessis. "Aussies will win all three by a BIG margin"?! What in recent history has lead you to this astounding prediction - maybe that SA has not lost a series home or away in half a decade?

  • TommytuckerSaffa on February 11, 2014, 10:02 GMT

    Horses for courses. Centurion will be pacy and suit seam bowling. A specialist spinner is not necessary and JP Duminy can bowl a few overs to improve the over-rate. This allows SA the luxury of picking another batsman. The selectors have decided to choose the 6th best seamer in the country ignoring Abbott & Hendricks so the overweight Kleinveldt will be the 4th bowler for Centurion.

    PE and Newlands will have more use for a spinner, eventhough I wouldnt classify Robbie P as a spinner, more a slow bowler as he doesnt turn the ball. He will play in both these games, so this will make SA pick an allrounder like McLaren or Parnell and drop the 7th specialist batsman.

  • ziggy500 on February 11, 2014, 9:46 GMT

    bring in quinton de kock . im an aussie fan, but i want to see the saffas pick the right players. if duminy is in the team, you have a 5th bowling option. its not like you need a 4th fast bowler, your attack is a freak of nature as it is. with de kock, AB can play 4 with the reduced workload. i really dont rate either parnell or mclaren well as test batsmen or bowler, so you'll end up with them barely getting a bowl, and providing little resistence with bat. considering who is picked will play 7, id pick a good batter because i think #7 is still a spot for a genuine batsmen. if you really want a 4th fast bowler, drop peterson for a genuine quick like tsotsobe. quicks are your strength, so play to your strength and use duminy as the spinner. not a bad idea considering JP's bowling has evolved from part timers.

    My SAF team- Smith, Petersen, Amla, AB, FDP, JP, De Kock, Philander, Steyn, Morkel, 4th Quick

    Aus- Warner, Rogers, Hughes, Clarke, Smith, Haddin, Starc, mitch, Harris, Sids,Lyon

  • Basil777 on February 11, 2014, 9:32 GMT

    The variety in bowling is questionable I think;not playing Tahir is a shocker for me. We stop relying on pace attack so much although they are the best and can do the job.

    We must diversify; we must use Tahir when pressure is already build and not to build pressure. Using Tahir at key junctions in the game can place the Aussies in a fix.

  • Paddyclark on February 11, 2014, 9:06 GMT

    I just cant wait for it to start. I hope our batting continues to improve. I hope the weather stays away and that the Aussies can get over the line.

    Test cricket against the poms, saffas or indians - it doesn't get any better from an Aussie point of view!

  • TheCricketeer on February 11, 2014, 8:54 GMT

    I hope the captain, coach and selector that decide on the final 11 are not as obsessed with an all rounder as the rest of the country and Firdose. We will lose the series if we take that route. 7 batsman, 4 bowlers. Duminy plays a support role and if Aus are actually in position to attack him he will have to step up. Simple as that.

    The 4th specialist bowler depends entirely on conditions but for Centurion it seems pretty clear it will be Kleinveldt.

    I dont know what the confusion is for. Its a standard test team balance. 6 batters, a keeper and 4 bowlers. And one of your batters has to be able to turn his arm over. We have that in Duminy. If our bowling was weak I could understand using the De Villiers factor to select an additional bowler but we have the two top bowlers in the world.

    Also - go count how many overs Kallis bowled in his last two or three years - especially when noone got injured in the game.

  • on February 11, 2014, 7:38 GMT

    @NixNixon - totally agree. Not sure why Firdose is labouring under the delusion that we HAVE to play either McLaren or Parnell. I'd play Dean Elgar at 7, Kleinveldt in place of Robbie P. (Kleinveldt bowled really well in the warm-up match, is more consistent than Parnell and more penetrative than McLaren) and use Duminy as the spinner. So we'll have 7 specialist batsmen, 4 specialist seamers and a better-than-part-time spinner. Perfect balance for SA conditions.

  • Samdanh on February 11, 2014, 7:37 GMT

    SA batting looks stronger on paper and by records. Aus could do well if they bat well. Their bowling has been strong over the last 3-4 series. If Aus bowling do not suffer injury setbacks and if Aus batting stands up to SA bowling Aus could make this, their series.

  • bowledout67 on February 11, 2014, 7:26 GMT

    i think Parnell and robbie p should play after what i saw in the practice game at the wanderers, dean elgar couldn't buy a run.......robbie p reverse swept simon harmer for five consecutive boundaries including two huge sixes..... he scored 24 of about 11 deliveries just the counter attack you need in the lower order against Nathan Lyon and Co.

  • BellCurve on February 11, 2014, 7:25 GMT

    The strongest team SA can pick is: smith, elgar, amla, ab, faf, jp, de kock, vern, steyn, morkel, hendricks. Elgar and jp can bowl almost as well as robbiep. De Kock should keep wicket and bat with the tail like gilchrist used to do. Hendricks is the perfect, perfect addition to an already legendary bowling unit.

  • UnlimitedLFB on February 11, 2014, 7:11 GMT

    SA doesn't have a good bowling attack, they have 2 exceptional bowlers, I still don't understand this fascination with Morkel, while he is a very good bowler truth is he hardly delivers wickets and now everyone ( selectors & fans alike) think he does a good handling job, SIEROUSLY!!! if that's what his now gonna do I see no reason why Ryan McLaren couldn't do the same job and he actually is very useful with the bat as well.

    My team would be:

    1 Graeme Smith 2 Alviro Petersen 3 Hashim Amla 4 Faf du Plessis 5 AB de Villiers 6 Jean-Paul Duminy 7 Dean Elger 8 Ryan McLaren 9 Wayne Parnell 10 Vernon Philander 11 Dale Steyn

    This team has 3 spinners Faf ( leggie), JP (off spin)& Dean ( left arm), someone to hold up an end in McLaren and two of the best bowlers in the world in Dale & Vernon and also Parnell who if he fires can be a dangerous strike bowler. And has a betting line up that goes to 10&11. Please look at Morne Morkel's stats and tell me if he deserves to be in the team

  • Demice on February 11, 2014, 6:58 GMT

    With already depth in batting line-up, why SAfricans still pondering over inclusion of another batsman? SA must think in finding ways to restrict opponents to score big totals. This has been proven a failed approach to have a long batting tail and then set to score an impossible task. I'll vote for Beuran Hendricks to put on more pressure on opponents with different varieties. Note: Bowlers can contribute in scoring but pure batsmen can't come out to bowl. So you always have more options in your bowling outfit.

  • dalboy12 on February 11, 2014, 6:42 GMT

    So as a Kiwi, I'm really excited about the fact the Black Caps have a chance to go through a whole series against India, unbeaten. But I must admit that I'm also very interested in this series. It will show if the Aussies are truly now an awesome team or whether England were simply terrible. I don't think this SA team does fold under pressure in test matches, they refuse to lose and will fight a lot harder than England. I've mentioned before that I think the key for SA is Morkel, with all the talk about the others, if Morkel can get a bit nasty then he has the pace and height to dominate the series - something he has been threatening to do for a while without ever really achieving it. SA will also need runs from Amla. I think this Aussie side will definitely take a test, SA will also take one --- the question is will weather take one as well. If not I'm going 2 -1 SA, or if weather gets in the way 1 -1.

  • NixNixon on February 11, 2014, 6:36 GMT

    Thing is we dont need a high class bowler to "help" vernon steyn and morkel bowl sides out. They have been doing it for years, just the three of them. Wat we need is a support bowler or more importantly a batsmen. You cant have a batting line up with mediocre allrounders batting all the way from 7 allready. That looks similar to a NZ team a few years ago where they had daniel vetorri coming in at 7. SA is gonna find themselves seriously short if robin peterson or mclaren or parnell bats at 7 its just too a long tail.

  • masiya on February 11, 2014, 6:31 GMT

    In the past few years, SA debutant bowlers have been able to produce match winning perfomances in home tests, and I think Hendricks should have the next man to be given a chance to do that again #teamHendricks#

  • Testcricketistop on February 11, 2014, 6:26 GMT

    Even though Domingo and Smith were too conservative to give young quys an opportunity it is good to know that we have quality players coming through such as Beauran Hendricks, Kyle Abbot, Marchant de Langer, Quinton de Kock, Rillee Rossouw and Stiaan van Zyl, at some point these youngsters must get a chance.

  • chicko1983 on February 11, 2014, 6:16 GMT

    In the Australian Ashes, Haddin, Clark and Watson had 4 centuries between them whereas Warner, Rogers and Smith all scored 2 each. In the English Ashes, it was 2 centruries by each trio. So the overreliance on Haddin, Clarke and Watson which Firdose mentions is definitely on the decline and no longer true in my opinion. I'd argue that it was the stepping up of the second teir players which helped secure the Ashes for the Aussies recently. If South Africa don't respect Warner, Rogers, Smith, whoever plays in place of Watson (Henriques, Hughes, Marsh or Doolan) then they will fall into the same trap as the Poms did. They are very good players and improving fast. The same goes for Siddle - a very good bowler who the Poms underestimated and didnt respect.

  • Beertjie on February 11, 2014, 6:11 GMT

    For me, it's Parnell judiciously used, not McClaren. Use him to gain break-throughs like Kallis was. He'll be as devastating as anyone at Centurion, at any event. Robbie P should sit out the first game, but how might this impact his confidence? Give Elgar the game. Even a failure will be justified for the game by having the extra batsman. Robbie P will play a part thereafter. If Watto plays PE and CT Aus. may become competitive if they can settle on the right top 6. Lyon may help but only if Clarke can score big and get assistance from some others (Rogers?).

  • Nuxxy on February 11, 2014, 6:02 GMT

    Glad to see that others agree Hendricks should be coming in. Between AB, JP, Peterson and Philander you have the all-rounder spot covered twice.

    Smith, Petersen, Amla, du Plessis, De Villiers (w), Duminy, Peterson, Philander, Steyn, Morkel, Hendricks.

  • on February 11, 2014, 5:59 GMT

    only issue is if one of the top three bowlers get injured SA will be in deep trouble. loce to see SA continue their winning streak but I believe they will go down coz the pressuer is too much for the Saffers. we all know how they fold under pressure. I have my money on d Aussies as they are back to being the best after a long time. Hope to see a craking test series but my gut feeling says Aussies will win all three by a BIG margin.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on February 11, 2014, 5:56 GMT

    @Reuben Kloppers I think selectors would prefer to strengthen the batting because Johnson is liable to turn what is normally a strong tail into something far less productive. England's tail was also touted as being able to hang around with the batsmen, score quick runs and be fairly productive. Personally I don't expect Johnson to be very damaging to the top order of South Africa expect maybe in his first new ball spell if he's on target, but if we get into JP and below I expect him to run them through fairly often. The real question is are we going to have SA 4/100 very often or is it going to be more like 4/300. On the flip side Australia's batting order could fold entirely at pretty much any point, but everybody knows that.

  • on February 11, 2014, 5:54 GMT

    well SAID dillywk. Smart option is to go with de cock. if Styne, vernon, Morkel cant handle the Aussies, who else would do that? by the way where is de Lange who bowled well in his first test? didnt see him after his stunning performance in his debut. No allrounder in the current scene can replace a legend like JK.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on February 11, 2014, 5:52 GMT

    Reuben Kloppers - well said Sir and I hope selectors read your post but I fear its too late as Kleinveldt has already been picked in the squad with Hendricks left out, which is unbelievable. This is purely down to our inherent conservatism.

  • SixFourOut on February 11, 2014, 5:50 GMT

    It has to be McLaren - FC bowling ave 25 and batting ave 30.

    Parnell bowling ave is 32 and batting average is 22.

    McLaren is the better bowler and can score hundreds, so it's a no brainer.

  • TommytuckerSaffa on February 11, 2014, 5:50 GMT

    I have been banging on about this for weeks. SA selectors will be foolish to replace Kallis with a sub-par allrounder like McLaren or Parnell.

    If I have to read one more article about Parnells pace and variety with left arm bowling makes him the best choice - I am going to tear my hair out!!!! Who cares if he is a left arm bowler, he is far too inconsistent !

    Selectors need to first drop the R.Peterson who is currently International Test crickets worst spinner and then replace him with a specialist bowler (Hendricks or Abbott) and Kallis can be replaced him with a specialist batsman (Elgar).

  • dillyk on February 11, 2014, 5:04 GMT

    Replacing Kallis with an allrounder is not smart. It has to be a player that is either one of the best batters or one of the best bowlers, If they are good in the other department that is a bonus. We already have 2 allrounders in robbie P and Vern. Trying to patch both wholes with a bits & pieces cricketer is something Eng would do. So either we get hendricks/abbott/viljoen or elgar/van zyl/de kock/rossouw. i.e only choice should be whether we split it 6/5 or 7/4 (batsmen/bowlers). Personally I would like de kock to come in at 6 or 7 and take the gloves. If the spinner can't provide enough of a holding job and ease the load we must look to find one that can. Not patch it with another problem. We use to play with 12 players and now we are gonna play with 10

  • Andre117 on February 11, 2014, 4:58 GMT

    I feel what would be best for us is another strike bowler. We bat quite deep and with an extra bowler we should have less runs to chase. Right now the best bowler on the domestic side is Beuran Hendricks. He is in fantastic form and his test debut might not come in this series, but it will come. I would put him in Peterson's place as JP and Faf can do the spin bowling.

  • on February 11, 2014, 4:52 GMT

    Every session will be crucial. The entire series could come down to one bad session for either team. Makes for exiting cricket, reputations will be made from this series......

  • Amol_Gh on February 11, 2014, 4:51 GMT

    My mind says...probably... SA 2 - 0 AUS.

  • vik-expert on February 11, 2014, 4:50 GMT

    SA Team: 1 Graeme Smith 2 Alviro Petersen 3 Hashim Amla 4 Faf du Plessis 5 AB de Villiers 6 Jean-Paul Duminy 7 Ryan McLaren 8 Robin Peterson 9 Vernon Philander 10 Dale Steyn 11 Morne Morkel

    AUS Team: 1 Chris Rogers 2 David Warner 3 Alex Doolan 4 Michael Clarke 5 Steven Smith 6 Shaun Marsh 7 Brad Haddin 8 Mitchell Johnson 9 Peter Siddle 10 Ryan Harris 11 Nathan Lyon

    Being an Australian Supporter, I still think South Africa looks more settled and compact. On other side, for Australian team number 3 and 6 batting positions are big problem.

  • on February 11, 2014, 4:37 GMT

    Definitely Ryan McLaren..at least this series it must be him...a 30 odd with the bat at no 7 and 3-4 wickets per match as your 4 th seamer is what he can give to the team..Parnell is expensive with the ball and ca be wayward at times and i think he is not as good as MCLaren with the bat..and he is SA's leading wicket taker in ODIs in 2013..so he will be high on confidence..And he is a proven all rounder i the county circuit..all these favour Ryan McLaren in my book

  • yogicoolboy on February 11, 2014, 4:32 GMT

    It will be an interesting series. Good luck to both the teams.

  • on February 11, 2014, 4:01 GMT

    Dale's first ball will show 'psithurism' to the Aussies Batsman. Good luck Kangoos

  • on February 11, 2014, 3:32 GMT

    I have to question why Parnell and McLaren are being considered for the spot. It is impossible to fill the hole that Kallis leaves with his retirement. Don't try play a mediocre allrounder, rather stick to what we are good at and bring in the most promising young bowling talent in the country - Beuran Hendricks. How is he not being considered for this spot? He takes wickets in FC at an avg of 20 and a strike rate of 37. Parnell takes wickets at an average of 33 and a strike rate of 58. He is not a good enough batsman (FC average 22) to justify a spot in this team. McLaren is a slightly better option, taking wickets at an average of 25.50 and strike rate of 50. However, this is still FAR inferior to Hendricks. We do not need a mediocre batsman that will average 20 with the bat. We have a long tale - Philander, Steyn, Peterson and even Morkel can all bat. What are the selectors thinking? Beuran Hendricks is young, fast and the future of bowling in SA. Put him in the side.

  • SHER-A-PANJAB on February 11, 2014, 3:17 GMT

    DEAN ELGAAR is the player ,can be valuable replacement at 3or 4

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  • SHER-A-PANJAB on February 11, 2014, 3:17 GMT

    DEAN ELGAAR is the player ,can be valuable replacement at 3or 4

  • on February 11, 2014, 3:32 GMT

    I have to question why Parnell and McLaren are being considered for the spot. It is impossible to fill the hole that Kallis leaves with his retirement. Don't try play a mediocre allrounder, rather stick to what we are good at and bring in the most promising young bowling talent in the country - Beuran Hendricks. How is he not being considered for this spot? He takes wickets in FC at an avg of 20 and a strike rate of 37. Parnell takes wickets at an average of 33 and a strike rate of 58. He is not a good enough batsman (FC average 22) to justify a spot in this team. McLaren is a slightly better option, taking wickets at an average of 25.50 and strike rate of 50. However, this is still FAR inferior to Hendricks. We do not need a mediocre batsman that will average 20 with the bat. We have a long tale - Philander, Steyn, Peterson and even Morkel can all bat. What are the selectors thinking? Beuran Hendricks is young, fast and the future of bowling in SA. Put him in the side.

  • on February 11, 2014, 4:01 GMT

    Dale's first ball will show 'psithurism' to the Aussies Batsman. Good luck Kangoos

  • yogicoolboy on February 11, 2014, 4:32 GMT

    It will be an interesting series. Good luck to both the teams.

  • on February 11, 2014, 4:37 GMT

    Definitely Ryan McLaren..at least this series it must be him...a 30 odd with the bat at no 7 and 3-4 wickets per match as your 4 th seamer is what he can give to the team..Parnell is expensive with the ball and ca be wayward at times and i think he is not as good as MCLaren with the bat..and he is SA's leading wicket taker in ODIs in 2013..so he will be high on confidence..And he is a proven all rounder i the county circuit..all these favour Ryan McLaren in my book

  • vik-expert on February 11, 2014, 4:50 GMT

    SA Team: 1 Graeme Smith 2 Alviro Petersen 3 Hashim Amla 4 Faf du Plessis 5 AB de Villiers 6 Jean-Paul Duminy 7 Ryan McLaren 8 Robin Peterson 9 Vernon Philander 10 Dale Steyn 11 Morne Morkel

    AUS Team: 1 Chris Rogers 2 David Warner 3 Alex Doolan 4 Michael Clarke 5 Steven Smith 6 Shaun Marsh 7 Brad Haddin 8 Mitchell Johnson 9 Peter Siddle 10 Ryan Harris 11 Nathan Lyon

    Being an Australian Supporter, I still think South Africa looks more settled and compact. On other side, for Australian team number 3 and 6 batting positions are big problem.

  • Amol_Gh on February 11, 2014, 4:51 GMT

    My mind says...probably... SA 2 - 0 AUS.

  • on February 11, 2014, 4:52 GMT

    Every session will be crucial. The entire series could come down to one bad session for either team. Makes for exiting cricket, reputations will be made from this series......

  • Andre117 on February 11, 2014, 4:58 GMT

    I feel what would be best for us is another strike bowler. We bat quite deep and with an extra bowler we should have less runs to chase. Right now the best bowler on the domestic side is Beuran Hendricks. He is in fantastic form and his test debut might not come in this series, but it will come. I would put him in Peterson's place as JP and Faf can do the spin bowling.

  • dillyk on February 11, 2014, 5:04 GMT

    Replacing Kallis with an allrounder is not smart. It has to be a player that is either one of the best batters or one of the best bowlers, If they are good in the other department that is a bonus. We already have 2 allrounders in robbie P and Vern. Trying to patch both wholes with a bits & pieces cricketer is something Eng would do. So either we get hendricks/abbott/viljoen or elgar/van zyl/de kock/rossouw. i.e only choice should be whether we split it 6/5 or 7/4 (batsmen/bowlers). Personally I would like de kock to come in at 6 or 7 and take the gloves. If the spinner can't provide enough of a holding job and ease the load we must look to find one that can. Not patch it with another problem. We use to play with 12 players and now we are gonna play with 10