South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Port Elizabeth

South Africa's record under threat

The Preview by Brydon Coverdale

February 19, 2014

Comments: 150 | Text size: A | A

Match facts

February 20-24, Port Elizabeth
Start time 1030 local (0830GMT)

'Is there an anti-Mitch pitch?'

Big Picture

"I truly believe that the wicket played a big role in the success that he had. The stats, even in the Ashes, say that he picked up a lot of lower-order wickets." So said Graeme Smith of Mitchell Johnson after the Centurion Test. Perhaps to Smith denial is just a river in the north of his continent. Johnson picks up a lot of lower-order wickets, but he picks up a lot of wickets full stop. Top, middle, bottom. Notably he removed Smith and his opening partner Alviro Petersen in both innings in Centurion. And while Port Elizabeth may offer up a slightly less helpful pitch, Johnson showed during the Ashes Test in Adelaide that he is more than capable of extracting life out of a seemingly unresponsive surface.

And, let's face it, it's all about Johnson at the moment. If he keeps going in his current direction, he will bowl Australia to yet another series win in South Africa. If his pace slips or he loses consistency, South Africa may find a way back into the series. If that seems too simplistic, it can be conceded that there are other factors at play. It is just that Johnson has the power to render most of them irrelevant. Not all of them, though. What he cannot significantly impact is South Africa's own bowling, and they need a lift from Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel. Where South Africa could fight back is if they keep Australia's runs low.

South Africa in recent years have displayed a remarkable ability to avoid clumps of losses, but last time they were defeated in two consecutive Tests it was by Australia, in South Africa five years ago, during a series in which Johnson had a major impact. It was also the last time they lost any Test series, anywhere. Unless they turn things around in Port Elizabeth, that drought will be broken.


Allan Donald passes on some tips to Wayne Parnell, Port Elizabeth, February 18, 2014
The decision for South Africa is whether to go with Wayne Parnell or Dean Elgar © Getty Images
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Form guide

(last five completed games most recent first)

South Africa LWDWL
Australia WWWWW

In the spotlight

AB de Villiers showed in Centurion why he is the No.1-ranked Test batsman in the world. He was the only South African who consistently looked comfortable against Johnson, top scoring in both innings and almost reaching a century in the first. But batting at No.5 means de Villiers may run out of partners if Johnson continues to terrorise the lower order, so it will be interesting to see how South Africa use him through the rest of the series, and whether his wicketkeeping duties will have any adverse effect on his batting.

Alex Doolan might have missed out on a century on debut but his work with the bat and in the field showed that he belongs at Test level. Composed at the crease and classy in his strokeplay, Doolan gradually became more confident during his second-innings 89 but also showed a willingness to leave the ball and make the bowlers come to him. At short-leg he was outstanding in the second innings, clutching two reflex catches that would have had some players flinching. All in all, it was an encouraging start.

Team news

Ryan McLaren has been ruled out after being concussed by a Johnson bouncer and that leaves South Africa with the choice of another bowling allrounder or a specialist batsman to replace him. Wayne Parnell would be the closest to a like-for-like swap but Dean Elgar would bolster a batting line-up that was bruised and browbeaten by Johnson in Centurion. There is also the possibility that both Elgar and Parnell will come in and the spinner Robin Peterson could be left out. South Africa have also added Quinton de Kock to the squad as cover for Alviro Petersen, who has a viral infection.

South Africa (possible) 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Alviro Petersen / Quinton de Kock, 3 Hashim Amla 4 Faf du Plessis, 5 AB de Villiers (wk), 6 JP Duminy, 7 Dean Elgar, 8 Wayne Parnell, 9 Vernon Philander, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Morne Morkel.

Australia are unlikely to make any changes given that Shane Watson is still unavailable due to his calf problem and the two batsmen who came in to the side in Centurion, Shaun Marsh and Alex Doolan, both performed beyond expectations.

Australia (probable) 1 Chris Rogers, 2 David Warner, 3 Alex Doolan, 4 Shaun Marsh, 5 Michael Clarke (capt), 6 Steven Smith, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Ryan Harris, 10 Peter Siddle, 11 Nathan Lyon.

Pitch and conditions

The Port Elizabeth pitch is renowned for being on the slow side but a thick covering of grass remained a couple of days out from the Test, giving some hope that there could be assistance for the fast bowlers. The forecast suggests there could be rain at times during the match with temperatures generally in the mid 20s.

Stats and trivia

  • Since he was recalled for the first Ashes Test in November, Johnson has taken 49 wickets at an average of 13.14 from six Tests with a strike-rate of a wicket every 27.1 balls

  • Johnson is only the second Australian after Shane Warne to reach the double of 250 Test wickets and 1500 runs

  • Only once since South Africa's readmission have they played Australia in a Test in Port Elizabeth, the famous 1997 match that Ian Healy won with a six

  • Remarkably, Australia have won six consecutive Tests and lost six consecutive Tests in the past 12 months - the losses having come in India and England

Quotes

"We've lacked a bit in real competitive cricket coming into this series. It's a quick turnaround and we have to adjust well to play winning cricket in Port Elizabeth."
Graeme Smith

"I think if the wicket stays like it is it will be a three-dayer, expecially with two fantastic bowling attacks. So I don't think it will stay like that."
Michael Clarke

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Ozzz.z on (February 20, 2014, 8:30 GMT)

@SLslider. Lololololololololololol I will remember your name :)

Posted by disco_bob on (February 20, 2014, 8:17 GMT)

I can't believe it, SA already are making excuses and they haven't even started. Philander has a 'niggle'. Give me a break.

Posted by disco_bob on (February 20, 2014, 8:14 GMT)

Australia will be bowling whoever wins the toss.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 8:13 GMT)

@SLslider hahaha idk if aussies get whitewashed or not but Sri Lanka is in hot waters w Bangladesh breathing down their neck. Pakistan also pulled off a record 5th day chase against them. and you are hoping for a whitewash man. what up w that?

Posted by matchfixerpkn on (February 20, 2014, 8:09 GMT)

SLslider ..you are ust showing your frastration on your begging cricket board..chill out ...any day ..ausie are better than srilanka..i can show no. of games where australia humiliated srilanka inside srilanka..but can you show one test win for srilanka inside australia :)

Posted by matchfixerpkn on (February 20, 2014, 8:06 GMT)

y only alvero..y not duminy...still dnt know the contribution of duminy and his co brother rohith sharma in cricket :)

Posted by disco_bob on (February 20, 2014, 8:06 GMT)

@SLslider, SL couldn't win a single match when we last played you guys and we won the series at your home, so where does the big talk come from?

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 8:05 GMT)

Its laughable that subcontinent fans of India/Sri Lanka are on here commenting on how Aus and SA will be torn apart on the subcontinent. SA haven't lost a series in years, home and away, and Australia are really starting to look the goods. Why don't you pop on over and comment on the games that involve your teams, and stay there? I am an AUS fan and want to see a good hard fought contest in PE, between both bat and ball, it would be great to see a result come late on day 5! Clarke for MOTM

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 7:57 GMT)

target aussies batting and keep them to a low score...coz Johnson is having the time of his life..and definitely this one be a thriller to watch for sure.. cricket is the winner afterall.. good luck both teams

Posted by becoming_enoch on (February 20, 2014, 7:55 GMT)

If you want an easy run against Johnson, bat at number 10. Here are his wickets since the beginning of the Ashes in Australia.

26 top order dismissals (1-6), 23 lower order (7-11).

LHS batting order - RHS number of dismissals

1 - 6 2 - 5 3 - 4 4 - 3 5 - 4 6 - 4 7 - 6 8 - 6 9 - 4 10 - 1 11 - 6

Posted by SLslider on (February 20, 2014, 7:48 GMT)

I bet SA will thrash AUS with an innings in this one. Johnson is bowling well on doctored fast pitches. We have all seen him here in SUB continent. Rankings are flawed bowlers like Philander and Johnson and Harris bowl on suited wickets to better their ranking but come sub continent and they get injured. LOL. AUS will get whitewashed when they visit SL next time. Both SA and AUS will get knocked out of the T20 world cup and will remain winless. SL will win the tournament this time.

Posted by matchfixerpkn on (February 20, 2014, 7:27 GMT)

if steyn not come with aggression and with steam.then it will another one side game .. steyn must match johnson...

Posted by Biggus on (February 20, 2014, 7:26 GMT)

Don't you just LOVE the countdown to an eagerly anticipated game? After all these years it still gets me going. If only we had Tony Greig out there consulting the 'Weatherwall' for the players comfort readings (never worked out what units it was measured in) it would still feel like 30 years ago.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 7:01 GMT)

I think south africa always bounce back from these kind of situation and another one is likely to come in this match.

Posted by disco_bob on (February 20, 2014, 6:59 GMT)

@Cricket_Froth, I think you meant to say that if SA play Parnell and Elgar they'd FEND deeper.

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (February 20, 2014, 6:53 GMT)

Smith is v much entitled to his views . As much as he's downplaying Johnson factor and his series defining effect ,pitch conditions and ability of his own team mates and the capacity to bounce back ,he will be feeling the pressure. He may be putting on a brave face to try to up the morale ,or showing they are not scarred and go into the game on an equal footing as Aussies . Whatever it is from Aus' p.o.v Clarke will be too well aware of guarding his young team from complacency ,over confidence or a false sense of superiority. They have not 1 the series yet . They are up against real class team -unlike Eng- at home and who still are the no. 1 side which is hurting. He knows that come the toss ,both sides will go in as equals and with both able to beat the other . With such bowling attacks and a lively pitch on offing a result is a given. Clarke will look for 1 more clinical showing so that that win is his and Aus can make the series theirs.I would bat Warner at 4 with Doolan opening.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 6:51 GMT)

The temptation here is to believe that Aust will continue to roll SA just like England. I cannot believe for a minute that SA will allow that to happen on their home turf with the likes of Steyn, Philander, Amla and DeViellers in their ranks. I have said it before, and i will say again, the Saffas are the kings of comebacks and this might rank as one of their very best. I hope I'm wrong but i for one won't be dumbfounded if this series is tied at 1-1 in five days time.

Posted by disco_bob on (February 20, 2014, 6:51 GMT)

I think I have worked out why MJ's 150kph balls are faster than anyone else's. He has concussed McLaren, Split Kallis' chin, Broken Smith's hands, and Yorked Broad's ankle. All sent to hospital, all of them can bat. This is due not just to the speed but to the accuracy of MJ. It's not a matter of 'wearing a few' because Monty Panesar showed how to do that, so it's not a matter of courage, it's a matter of if you try to play the ball and you get it wrong then you could end up with a very serious injury.

Therefore, if you want to play an MJ ball you cannot premeditate your response, if you don't fact this regularly you cannot rely on instinct. You need to SEE the ball, as ABdV does. If you are not of the calibre of AB then you need to take a tenth of a second off your reaction time. Taking a tenth of a second off your reaction time is the equivalent of a 150kph MJ ball being bowled at 165kph. That is my hypothesis as to why MJ's balls are 'faster' even at the same speed as someone else.

Posted by crogger on (February 20, 2014, 6:45 GMT)

Did Graeme Smith even look at the final scorecard for the 1st test? Of the 12 Top 6 batsmen wickets to fall for SA Johnson took 8 of these. He also dismissed McLaren in both innings who was the number 7 batsmen. So in actual fact Johnson only took 2 genuine tai lender wickets for the match.

Sounds like wishful thinking from Smith.

Posted by Cricfever_PM on (February 20, 2014, 6:41 GMT)

SA will not give up but looking at the current form of Johnson one has to be more careful, SA top orders has to fire this time as we didn't see 100s from Amla or smith for sometime! My feeling is when Johnson can scare SA why can't steyn can scare Aussies.

Posted by Jagger on (February 20, 2014, 6:29 GMT)

@ okeabhijit - I feel you're in for a big surprise.

Posted by UnlimitedLFB on (February 20, 2014, 6:22 GMT)

South Africa (possible) 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Alviro Petersen / Quinton de Kock, 3 Hashim Amla 4 Faf du Plessis, 5 AB de Villiers (wk), 6 JP Duminy, 7 Dean Elgar, 8 Wayne Parnell, 9 Vernon Philander, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Morne Morkel.

This is a very good line-up but if I would change positions thou and make 1 replacement. That is if Alviro is available he should still open but if not available for this test. The Playing eleven should be:

South Africa 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Hashim Amla , 3 Dean Elgar 4 AB de Villiers (wk), , 5 Faf du Plessis 6 JP Duminy, 7 Quinton de Kock, 8 Wayne Parnell, 9 Vernon Philander, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 B. Hendricks

Alviro Petersen earned this his spot in this series at list, de Kock on the other hand is just being given based on for prospects but he hasn't proved anything just yet and his lack of experience will likely hurt his future playing for SA. When Ryan can play he should just slot in for Hendricks

Posted by legfinedeep on (February 20, 2014, 6:19 GMT)

Alviro Petersen has an average of around 31, I think, for an *opening bat of the number one ranked test side*. Do we have to keep him there to meet the non-white player quota? I simply cannot find any other reason for him not being dropped. I will be truly surprised if he lasts even one Johnson over. If ever someone needed the stoic wall-like ability of a Kallis, the ability to handle pressure with calmness and not be intimidated, it is now. Unfortunately, with Amla out of form, the only one showing some fight now is ABD.

Posted by Dima71 on (February 20, 2014, 6:14 GMT)

Remember, SA scored 200 runs both innings even we have seen most brutal spell from Johnson. All SA have to do is add another 150 runs more than their last total. That's 15 runs per batter and do not let Warner to settle. Alex Doolan & Shaun Marsh batted very well but I don't think they can continue their form to the second test. Leave Jonson away...let him take 7 wickets even this time..But make sure each one score 15 more runs than last test South Africa. See who is under pressure then....

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 6:08 GMT)

the impact of mike ismaking the difference the proteas have to work out something and things will change for the better for them

Posted by crick_sucks on (February 20, 2014, 6:07 GMT)

Even the fragile Indian batting lineup to some extent tested the SA bowling. AUS will do much better. But the best part of MJ is that SA is completely in denial of his threat and fail to acknowledge their own bowling failure. I see a 0-3 on the cards and Smith's retirement from all forms of cricket at the end of series.

Posted by dunger.bob on (February 20, 2014, 6:01 GMT)

@ Jono Makim: Excellent point about JP being the sole spin option. If it doesn't work it's back to the old faithfuls and yet more work for them. And you can bet your house on hitting him being a part of our game-plan if they do it. Boof will be straight onto that I'd say.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 5:51 GMT)

Sorry AussieKev, you're getting confused with Durban.

Posted by okeabhijit on (February 20, 2014, 5:46 GMT)

I feel SA will bounce back

Posted by austentayshus on (February 20, 2014, 5:36 GMT)

What a ludicrous comment by smith ..

Playing Mind games ??? please leave to the Aussies

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 5:24 GMT)

JP Duminy is a highly overrated cricketer..

Posted by Seligs01 on (February 20, 2014, 5:19 GMT)

Am I missing something? SA have lost 1 test match. Yes it was a convincing loss, but it seems like everyone has written them off. Hopefully Steyn and Philander can up there game and make it competitive. I would throw de Kock into the mix. I've had my doubts about Alviro for a while. Looking forward to a great test match.

Posted by Great_Nate on (February 20, 2014, 5:02 GMT)

Smith doesn't understand Aussies at all. Telling MJ that he is only taking lower order wickets will only motivate the Aussies. It won't help the Saffers at all, who were clearly struggling. Those comments only help the aussies. Dumb.

Posted by SmashingBaby on (February 20, 2014, 4:05 GMT)

I can't believe the arrogance of Graeme Smith. Fair enough to say that the Aussies surprised them but they will come back in Port Elizabeth and that they have come back to win series in the past. But to say the pitch at Fortress Centurion suited Mitchell Johnson and that's why he took so many "lower order" wickets (Since MJ got GS out in both innings does that mean he is only as good as a lower order batsman??) is a joke, especially since Australia was up against what is supposed to be the best attack in the world. Does a pitch that suits MJ not also suit Dale Steyn and co?? There's a reason the Aussies have never lost in South Africa and it isn't the pitches. It's the mental frailty of RSA when it comes to playing them. Which is exactly what Graeme Smith has revealed to be happening again. 3-0 maybe? Hopefully for RSA there will be some rain!

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 3:59 GMT)

"Perhaps to Smith denial is just a river in the north of his continent." This sentence is absolute gold.

Posted by jonesy2 on (February 20, 2014, 3:35 GMT)

south Africa have been made to become an absolute shambles. if they bring in de kock Australia will feast on him, if they bring in parnell Australia will feast on him, if they keep duminy at 6 and du plessis at 4 I cant see how they can possibly win

Posted by jonesy2 on (February 20, 2014, 3:32 GMT)

smith is a joke. completely embarrassing himself and disgracing himself. he should retire and should've stepped down as captain years ago

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 2:37 GMT)

I see that Cpt Meanster is hoping that a shell shocked South African team can rebound and beat Australia in the Test Matches to come. He waffles on about our Aussie team only having Mitchell Johnson contributing in the first Test and our other players he describes as mediocre... What utter bull ... He sounds like just another frustrated Indian supporter who is hoping that our Aussies won't knock poor old India out of second position in the world rankings. When it comes to mediocre you should have a good look at your underperforming Indian team first... LOL

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 2:33 GMT)

@Cpt.Meanster, Marsh, Smith and Warner all hit centuries. Doolan hit 89. Mitch left the other bowlers get another 7 wickets. I think, when you say; "Johnson won the Ashes for Australia and beat the South Africans in the first test single handedly with his bowling" you are being a bit simplistic.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 2:30 GMT)

where is neil mecanzie? he is far better then piterson..as for soin department...r.i.p SA

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 2:21 GMT)

where top teams playing there is no fight, if top and lower team playing mean u can except 100% fight (that is cricket) people should understand otherwise they will die.

Posted by Sathesh_Krishnan on (February 20, 2014, 2:11 GMT)

Its time for SA to come back hard in the test and prove why they are #1. They have been traditional slow starters and this series is no exception. The bowling and batting units looked very rusty in the first test and definitely will bounce back in PE. Australia can definitely expect a stronger fight back and there is an interesting match on the cards. DeKock if selected will have a wonderful opportunity to showcase his test skills. Overall a South African come back is expected 100% and Aussies might be left surprised.

Posted by cricket_tragic99 on (February 20, 2014, 2:10 GMT)

Love stock comments, "if SA can bat really well and take Steyn runs through the Aus batters, then SA will win".

The good news for SA is that they can not possibly play any worse than they did last week. The bowling was insipid, their fielding just as bad and they were less than average with the bat.

Let's hope that MJ has not left them shell shocked and that they are able to put a decent score on the board. I would not be surprised if Harris takes takes a bag as a result of SA focusing all of their energies on how to handle MJ.

The good news for Aus is that they are sharing the load with the bat and not relying on the same players to score the runs. Seem to have the confidence when one fails another stands up.

Posted by Mr.CricketJKNotHussey on (February 20, 2014, 2:07 GMT)

AB already has to WK and then play the saviour's role. Plus if he leave the middle order, it will be exposed to the Aussie pacers. SA need him there to provide stability and not tire him out. de Kock could be tried as an opener.

Posted by AidanFX on (February 20, 2014, 1:52 GMT)

Sour (desperate) grapes from Smith - whilst Johnson did get a lot of lower order wickets in Ashes - he also did remove batsmen from top to middle to bottom in both is last match and in the Ashes. One included an away swinger which bowled Cook. He is bowling very well, on decent bouncy pitches as well as flatter wickets.

Posted by Int.Curator on (February 20, 2014, 1:41 GMT)

I think Graeme Smith concedes his team has not been playing cricket at a level to be ranked No1 position for some time.

Not sure the last time Graeme Smith thinks he played a competitive match a the top level.

The level Australia are playing at, they would have destroyed every and any opponent.

Not sure SA team can turn around a difference of 6 wickets and 281 run deficit.

Graeme less excuses more action.

Posted by grubberJo on (February 20, 2014, 1:26 GMT)

All this hype over Johnno plays right into the hands of the Aussies, taking pressure off the rest of the team. I have no doubt we are seeing a changing of the guard and the beginning of a new Australian reign. Not so much because of the current crop of players but what is waiting in the wings. If they're worried about our current bowlers, they haven't seen anything yet. Good to be an Aussie.

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 1:25 GMT)

@Cpt.Meanster: Well, its bit difficult to not think about him when the bloke is trying to knock your head off, is it? I'd just love to see India touring OZ sometime soon just to see whether OZ is really "mediocre and average"!

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 1:24 GMT)

Interesting comment from Smith that Johnson's wickets came from the lower order. In both of South Africa's innings, Johnson received a five-for from the first seven batsmen in the SA line-up. Thats 10 of a possible 14 top and middle order wickets Equally impressive was the fact that Smith himself faced 4 balls from Johnson, 2 of which resulted in him trudging off the ground defeated. Perhaps Smith is suggesting that his wicket is, in effect, a lower order wicket, because he's batting like a bunny.

Posted by Henry_Crun on (February 20, 2014, 1:05 GMT)

I do hope that Quinton gets a Guernsey for this Test; then we would have the wonderful situation of De Kock being bowled at by de Johnson. To complete the triumvirate, does Peter Willey have any offspring that could be drafted into either team? Isn't it strange how the clowns insisting that Johnson is deliberately aiming at the batsmen's head are the same ones who 4 months ago claimed that he couldn't hit the side of a barn with both barrels of a shotgun.

Posted by Redrod on (February 20, 2014, 0:58 GMT)

Good story Brydon - worth a million dollars (in a minute!)

Posted by   on (February 20, 2014, 0:44 GMT)

Something that I saw on the recent coverage from Sky Sports was an analysis of quickness off the pitch. Morkel, although a similar speed in the air, lost more pace off the pitch than Johnson. That's all about his lower, slinging action. Batsmen think they have a gauge of his pace but somehow the ball flies off the surface faster than they expect. At 150kph that's significant and it's a huge factor as to why he is so effective. He gets that pace and bounce from a lower arm height, perhaps slightly different rotations on the ball too. Whatever it is, it's not like facing other bowlers and that's what Smith seems to be ignoring here. It doesn't matter what the pitch is, what matters is that when Johnson bowls he gets the ball to come at you faster and harder than the other bowlers do, even the guys who have the same speed out of the hand. You might feel better facing him on a slower pitch but it just lures you into a false sense of security.

Posted by Bollo on (February 20, 2014, 0:44 GMT)

@Andre117. Sanga`s stats as `keeper - 48 tests, ave.40 (SR 52). Gilchrist`s stats as `keeper - 96 tests, ave.48 (SR 82). Pretty clear. I don`t know too much about the back-up SAf keepers, although I`ve seen a bit of de Kock, and I know AB has an excellent record as `keeper/batsman, but I just can`t see it as a long-term proposition. I think it`s going to become to much for him, and ultimately affect his batting. You could already see in the last test he was in a lot of pain with the gloves.

I think he`ll play out this series there, and then hand over the gloves and move up to 4.

Posted by LoungeChairCritic on (February 20, 2014, 0:27 GMT)

@Jono Makim as an Oz supporter I am happy if Duminy is the sole spinner. I am also happy if they play Peterson. Spin bowling is their weakness. At least someone like Paul Harris used to do a job. Especially at Centurion, S Smith, Marsh and Doolan only played what they had to play when they faced the pace bowlers. Against the Saffers you have to bat as many balls as possible. Once again we will look to attack their spinner and be watchful against their fast bowlers. There might be some juice in the pitch on the 1st day with a bit of rain about but generally PE tends to be slow and low. Even though slow and low generally doesn't suit us, at least we can say that we will be the only team with a spinner who does a job. I wonder if Graeme Smith has the balls to bat 1st on a rainy 1st day.

Posted by VillageGreen on (February 20, 2014, 0:26 GMT)

Kallis.

Will someone kidknap him, drive him to Port Elizabeth and put his whites on? His country needs him for 2 more Tests. He should acknowledge he chose the wrong time to retire and correct it.

Posted by SHER-A-PANJAB on (February 20, 2014, 0:19 GMT)

morne Morkel and Smith are weak link .lets see Dale...how he does .I think Sa will try hard to win ..

Posted by dunger.bob on (February 20, 2014, 0:05 GMT)

@ AussieKev said "I hope the captains have their tide charts out. This might sound strange, but high tides play a big role in how the wicket plays in Port Elizabeth."

No mate, not strange at all. There are a few grounds around the world that get affected by the tide. There's one in India, Bellrieve at times and another in NZ if I recall correctly. It's a subtle thing but it seems to affect the amount of swing and seam available for the bowlers. .. In another article they mentioned the breeze at PE having a profound affect as well. It sounded very similar to Perth. If it comes from inland it dries the pitch out but if it comes off the ocean it keeps things a bit juicier. .. PE certainly sounds like a very interesting ground. Full of nuances.

Posted by Biggus on (February 20, 2014, 0:00 GMT)

Bit of a war of words going on here, my fellow Aussies saying too much too soon (some of them anyway), Saffers assuaging their wounded pride but saying "well get you next game", neutrals pitching in with their own spin. Well, I'm just glad we're at game day where we'll have something to talk about rather than indulge in pointless verbal jousting. The Saffers didn't become complete mugs overnight but they WERE plainly rattled in the last game. They have a well deserved reputation for coming back strongly and I expect them to do so. The crux of the series IMO has always been "Can our batting make enough runs?" If they can I believe MJ is in such form we're more likely than not to win, but none of us not afflicted with memory recall issues can have forgotten just how easily our batting can fall in a heap. With that caveat in mind I still expect us to win, our batting may be potentially fragile but there's a lot of self belief too, as befits a team on a winning streak.

Posted by Scuderi on (February 19, 2014, 23:56 GMT)

Its amazing how quickly Johnson has turned 2 strong steady teams into a mess.

Any chance of Dennis Lillee and Darren Lehmann heading over to the West Indies and revitalisng their cricket? Maybe Jason Gillespie coud do it. I really miss them as a test force.

It wont suprise me one bit if South Africa played 11 all rounders. They love them. Yes it makes you harder to beat, but you don't win.

Have you noticed that the great Aussie teams were famous winning tests? This good South African team loves to talk about all the times they didn't lose. Its the difference between Great vs Good

Posted by ZUBZ0709 on (February 19, 2014, 23:50 GMT)

Mitchell Johnson will blow Away south Africa again.. I know it's early to say, but maybe the mighty Aussies are back....

Posted by dunger.bob on (February 19, 2014, 23:50 GMT)

@ Sajjad Mehdi: I want to see how some of the sub-continental superstars go against MoJo in ,say, Perth or Brissy. ... nah, make it Hobart.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 23:48 GMT)

I can't understand why other comments here don't refer to opposing captains. Like it or not they set the tone of the match and in Clarke and Smith they're poles apart.

Clarke is an aggressive proactive captain who doesn't let it happen he makes it happen. Smith is exactly the opposite. Other teams dictate the terms to him and he lets it happen. SA will NEVER beat Australia with that approach, irrespective of who plays in their respective teams.

Posted by TeamSelector on (February 19, 2014, 23:37 GMT)

Have Elgar open & let DeKock do the wicket keeping. DeVilliers is the #1 batsman in the world. Give the respect he deserves. The #4 slot belongs to him ...

1-Smith 2-Elgar 3-Amla 4-DeVilliers (playing as a batsman only) 5-Faf 6-Duminy 7-DeKock (wicketkeeper) 8-Parnell 9-Philander 10-Steyn 11-Morne

Posted by Cricket_Froth on (February 19, 2014, 23:34 GMT)

Surely SA will drop Robin Peterson? He's a pretty ordinary bowler and at least 2 of the Australian middle order play spin well. If they pick both Parnell and Elgar they'll bat and bowl deeper and be able to rotate their quicks in a more aggressive go-get-wickets strategy. Australia have to stick with the same XI. Great to see a genuine 3 in the top order. Cricket Froth.

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 19, 2014, 23:26 GMT)

@Jono Makim I think the point is that you need to pick one or the other, there's not a lot of point in having both.

Posted by ShutTheGate on (February 19, 2014, 22:00 GMT)

@ cpt.Meanster are you the Indian FFL?

"Some Australian supporters here think the Australian team is playing well - WRONG "

During the Ashes 6 of our top 7 scored 100's compared to only 1 tonne from England. At Centurion we had 3 batters make a hundred and another make 89 with SA making no centuries.

Australia out spin bowled England in the Ashes and SA @ Centurion. Australia out fielded England int he Ashes and SA in Centurion.

During the ashes Australia took 100 wickets, MJ took 37 of these meaning that the TEAM played well enough to take the other 63!

I look forward to whitewashing India and becoming the number one ranked test team in the world next summer.

Posted by disco_bob on (February 19, 2014, 21:48 GMT)

By tomorrow or Friday all the trash talk will be over and we'll know who the no. 1 team is. Hint: Australia.

Posted by Jimmyvida on (February 19, 2014, 21:47 GMT)

Tighten up your belts and be serious. Johnson bowls 4 overs and then rested. So see those overs off. Then get yourselves in. Be a man. Look how India, that looked disgraceful in the ODI's, adapted in the tests. C'mon guys, don't let me look bad.

Posted by LookatLuke on (February 19, 2014, 21:41 GMT)

SA lack one more decent bowler. They must substitute one or they'll lose the series, especially if Amla's lost form. They also need to play the other three Oz bowlers better -- not so easy, as they're excellent -- which automatically puts more pressure on MJ, which he hasn't recently had to cope with.

That would do much to even up the situation, so we'd get more of a scrap, which is surely what spectators near and far prefer to see.

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (February 19, 2014, 21:36 GMT)

Cpt. Meanster that's what we like to hear. Yes, the Australian players are mediocre except for Johnson. Meanwhile guys like Harris, Warner, Haddin, Clarke and co will keep taking wickets and posting centuries at nearly a run a ball. Thank you very much.

Posted by Jimmyvida on (February 19, 2014, 21:33 GMT)

India handled Johnson's bouncers! In Bangladesh all will handle him. But the proof in the pudding is when India tour Australia and face Mitch at the Gabba etc. Please don't make statements as if you only played street cricket and broke the neighbour's glass one day.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (February 19, 2014, 21:24 GMT)

Cpt.Meanster; Wow both mediocre and average? You really know how to come up with a post supported by facts don't you. In the last 6 tests that we have won there has been 13 hundreds scored (not one by Johnson), our batting clearly outshone the Indians efforts who were recently in South Africa (who's best first innings was 330), bowling wise Harris averages 22, Siddle 29,Lyon 34 and each of these have been averaging below that during our winning streak. The winning margins in the last 6 tests have been 280 runs and 6 wickets, 281 runs, 8 wickets, 150 runs and 4 wickets, 218 runs and 7 wickets, 381 runs and 3 wickets. Which is an average of 218 runs and 5 wickets. Then to say we will be flogged without Johnson perhaps by a similar margin. So are you saying Johnson makes a difference of 436 runs and 10 wickets in every test match he plays? Johnson has been awesome but the team itself has been brilliant and if you meaning of mediocre is around South Africa level but above India your right

Posted by disco_bob on (February 19, 2014, 21:21 GMT)

I'm going to tip Clarke to win the toss and put South Africa in to bat.

Posted by disco_bob on (February 19, 2014, 20:44 GMT)

Perhaps Smith should bat at no. 10, statistics show that MJ has a problem against them.

Posted by ModernUmpiresPlz on (February 19, 2014, 20:37 GMT)

@AussieKev Sounds to me like it's going to be a tough call to bat or bowl first. I hope Smith wins the toss, interested to see what he does.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 20:09 GMT)

I can't believe the amount of fans that expect JP to fill the spinners role alone. Aus just drove Swann into retirement, SWANN. If JP were left as the sole spinner then the Aussies would simply thrash him out of the attack as quickly as possible leaving your four seamers to do it all. You need one of Robbie of Tahir and that is just how it is, in any case I thought Robbie probably looked better with the bat than JP in the first test anyway.

@Arno, the winners get to write the history mate, it can be frustrating no doubt but that's just the way it is. Aus has copped it for the last few years from all quarters, time to hand a bit back I guess!

Posted by AussieKev on (February 19, 2014, 20:09 GMT)

I hope the captains have their tide charts out. This might sound strange, but high tides play a big role in how the wicket plays in Port Elizabeth.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 19:49 GMT)

@First_Drop Why AB has to open is because 1. He began his test career opening so he can do it well, 2. We need someone at the top to build our innings around, and Hash is bereft of confidence right now. If de Kock can come in at 5, we can plan for him to, as an opener, take on the 2nd new ball. If we get to 28/3 and hope for AB to save us it won't end well.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 19:27 GMT)

This is some battle for real number #1 between the 1st & 2nd ranked teams, ICC rankings may differ & say we are #2, complete sham. But do people come to watch in stadiums? We attract lot of money & people to ground, they were empty. Greatest SA cricketer retired in that series, ground were empty. And now we are seeing a dogfight between 2 evenly matched teams (bar one exception, notable though) grounds were still empty on first gig. Why don't you Sounth Africans move this whole series to India and play in Dharmshala & Mohali. Grounds will be full and Steyn, Harris, Philander & Morkel will retain their bite too. Mitch though won't do bad even in Nagpur or Chennai highway. Indians like me, deprived of seeing something quality in bowling will rush to ground. Not kidding, and you will say Indians make more money :)

Posted by Nandu_Athadu on (February 19, 2014, 19:13 GMT)

MJ is a "hit the deck hard" kind of bowler and i think pitch condition will not bring down his performance. Teams which have atleast one such bowler is bound to rule the Cricket at any grounds...teams facing MJ need to be mentally fit and remove any mental scares in their minds..AB was mentally tough in the first test and he was successful against MJ..always a good sign to see a fast bowler steaming in and delivering super fast balls...heard of the great WI bowling line up and how they used to create fear and terror for batsman..watching MJ bowling I can visualize how that days of Cricket were and can feel the terror of batsmen facing WI bowling lineup that too with less protective gear..it is the one major reason for not comparing batsman and in particular Cricketers of diff periods...SA have the batting talent on paper but need to be tough on mind..Expecting one more good test between the top two sides of TEST cricket...

Posted by Indiaforever on (February 19, 2014, 19:00 GMT)

Hoping for SA to come back hard on Australia. They definitely have the talent. Just wait for Steyn and co to run through the Aussie batting line up and then hoping that Amla comes back into form after a run of no big scores. If Amla and AB score big with the others contributing then they can definitely do very well and come back.

Posted by First_Drop on (February 19, 2014, 18:25 GMT)

@ZCFOutkast; "Damage not readily apparent"? you think? Smith is contradicting what is plain for everyone else to see. He is in denial - and that's evidence enough of the damage that Johnson has done.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (February 19, 2014, 18:22 GMT)

Clearly the South Africans have been shaken in their boots by MO Johnson. Well they need to simply forget about him and play their natural cricket if they want to do justice to their much celebrated 'no 1' status. Johnson on the other hand has clearly been the difference in a team which is otherwise mediocre and average. Johnson won the Ashes for Australia and beat the South Africans in the first test single handedly with his bowling. Some Australian supporters here think the Australian team is playing well - WRONG ! It's Mitchell Johnson who is playing well and he's helping your team win games. Without Mitch, Aussies are mediocre. So be hopeful that Mitch could sustain his form and fitness for many months. I can't pick a winner here. As a neutral, I would like to see a close contest.

Posted by GermanPlayer on (February 19, 2014, 18:14 GMT)

SA will stick with Alviro. But the other Peterson will have to go. Duminy is enough. He has consistently outperformed Tahir and Peterson. Tahir can make you lose a game in a session while Peterson is not effective. Rather have a fast man in the team or a batter.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 17:59 GMT)

i dont see. alviro. Petersen in playing. eleven

Posted by GermanPlayer on (February 19, 2014, 17:41 GMT)

and Smith is talking absolute rubbish. Play him well and then you can say all you want. But please dont say this when he got the openers in both innings.

Posted by ZCFOutkast on (February 19, 2014, 17:40 GMT)

While there are a lot of detectable signs that Johnson bruised the heads of a few, judging by Smith's sentiments, it's safe to say that some damage not readily apparent penetrated beyond that. The Proteas fitness teams would've been wise to conduct fitness tests not limited to the workings of muscles alone.

Posted by GermanPlayer on (February 19, 2014, 17:40 GMT)

Counting on SA to make a come back. MJ looks world class, at the moment. But it is premature to say that just after 6 tests. Philander got 50 in his 7th game(First seven of the career!) while Johnson has achieved 49 in 6. Add to that his crazy pace and he is a dream fast bowler. But he has a lot still to prove.

Just like many Aussies here saying Philander is not as good as his start to the career suggested, they need to understand that MJ could well go back to the ways he used to bowl. As a cricket fan, I hope he continues(barring next two tests :))

Posted by Afta on (February 19, 2014, 17:34 GMT)

I don't think South Africa can withstand the onslaught of Mitchell Johnson. Non of their batsman except for AB can cope. So it's all Australia.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 17:31 GMT)

I want to see what sajjad can do on a wet season pitch in Darwin ?Bring ya helmet big boy!

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 17:31 GMT)

SA have selection problem. they played 2 formless player Alviro Petersen & Robin Peterson.Why ????? last 2 serious & also last test they flop bating & bowling but they play again & again. add the Imran Tahir & new openar please for better the team

Posted by GrindAR on (February 19, 2014, 17:23 GMT)

Aussies showing signs of returning to their 90's caliber

Posted by GrindAR on (February 19, 2014, 17:22 GMT)

This is going to be a 4 days affair... if SA held their bats well and disciplined, otherwise, it is going to be a 3 day match as MC said. I hope SA give a tough fight to save their face, especially when they had loose tongue on other teams when they reached #1 in ranks... it is not looking good to be whitewashed in their own yard... that will be laughable...

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 17:00 GMT)

I want to see What Mitch can do on flat tracks in Sub continent

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 16:55 GMT)

Smithy with utmost respect,give the man some credit.Lets see what the MO can do with a 'lifeless' pitch in PE.Good luck big fella, talk to us in a few days.

Posted by Ab_marri on (February 19, 2014, 16:36 GMT)

AB DE VILLIERS is a CHAMPION NO Doubt he can destroy every bowling side ....Come on Proteas Come on AB ..will be Fire as alaways he done before...i think this time will be special for AB...will punish that negative Mitchell Jhonson...Series is on...

Posted by Ross_Co on (February 19, 2014, 16:28 GMT)

How long till KP can play for S.Africa?

Posted by SurlyCynic on (February 19, 2014, 16:27 GMT)

@Andrew Graham: Most bizarre post I've seen on here... those intimidating SA sponsors!

Posted by Jagger on (February 19, 2014, 15:48 GMT)

The evidence around how unmitigatingly incompetent Mickey Arthur's appointment to Australian coach continues to grow as each game passes.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 15:37 GMT)

I don't know how South Africa have got away with their bullying tactics for so long. From top down, government, media, supporters, sponsors, have waged total war on opponents. On the field the players club together in a colective power surge to intimidate batsmen and browbeat umpires. I lost count of phoney appeals (before DRS), changing the ball when their bowlers were getting knocked about, and general arrogance. Sit doresn't work against Australia because they are better cricketers and are generally not as gentemanly and timid as the other countries.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (February 19, 2014, 15:28 GMT)

@Arno Fortuin (post on February 19, 2014, 13:46 GMT): I'm a neutral here to this series, and a huge fan of Smith as both a player and a captain over the years; but I stand by my earlier comment that that's a ridiculous statement to come out with before the second game. As Brett_Johnson (post on February 19, 2014, 13:12 GMT) says, well over half of Johnson's wickets have been top 7 batsmen. Is Smith saying South Africa's top 7 are "lower-order batsmen"? - because Johnson got them all out last game. My post was not arrogance; like you I'm hoping to see a much better display from the South African bowlers, and may the best team win.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 15:27 GMT)

The focus is so much on Mitch that there are others too in the Aussie team who can impact the result. Both Siddle and Harris are match winners in their own rights , not to forget Lyon who can chip in with a wicket or two now and then as he has often done. On the whole it will be better if SA looks at the Ausie bowling unit as a whole instead of just on Mitch otherwise Diddle and Harris will run away for a change on their own.

Posted by swauzzie on (February 19, 2014, 15:25 GMT)

I really feel for G Smith! He must be totaly demoralised. I mean a class player like him - & after only 1 test in this series, he's already classing himself as a "lower order wicket" (as well as AB & Petersen) lol

Posted by stormy16 on (February 19, 2014, 15:22 GMT)

Its the point of no return for SA, they simply have to win this game or run the risk of a series loss as I dont see this being a draw. Its obviously all about Johnson but Vern and Steyn have to deliver now. The most amazing thing is SA have 3 batters in the top 10 while Aus outbatted the with a debutant and Marsh who came from no where. What's more there were two other centurians. Aus plan willbe simple - same as the last 6, full of aggression, there is no other way and this works.

Posted by First_Drop on (February 19, 2014, 14:33 GMT)

SA are concerned about their batting. If that's the case, then why would they change a thing wrt AB? He's scoriong runs and, unless I'm mistaken, he's not dropping catches, is he? The last thing SA want now if=s a specialist keeper. Also, wy include a batsmen who averages substantially less than Amla and Smith - surely if those chaps are failing then the lesser players will as well, right? Wel, not obviously, but this is the expected reaosnable outcome, and I don' think this will work. However, SA are faced with limited options.

Posted by JohnMR on (February 19, 2014, 14:18 GMT)

And I don't know why people keep punting Tsolikile. Its so short sighted and short term thinking. There are at least 4 keeper/batsmen that are better than him in SA at the moment. Some of them don't even keep for their unions because of one reason or other. Vilas, Kuhn, van Wyk, Smit, Dekock, Mosehle, etc etc. All better than Tsolikele.

Besides, he hasn't been extended a CSA contract so he's clearly not in their thinking going forward.

Posted by ZainE111 on (February 19, 2014, 14:11 GMT)

Steyn and Vernon were quite ineffective in the first test against PAK in Dubai. They came back in the second test (with help from Tahir). The same can be said of our batsmen. Amla got a century in the first test but none of the rest did well (I think Duminy got a fifty, if memory serves). In the second test, we won by an innings with Smith hitting a double.

I think it's very possible that SA can bounce back from the Centurion test and put up a decent show in PE.

Although, PAK didn't have Mitchell Johnson.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 14:05 GMT)

bret johnson, i think that normally you would consider 7 to 11 lower order batsmen which would imply 15 top six wickets and 19 lower order wickets if i counted correctly. But wickets are wickets and Smith is trying to rally he's troops like any captain would.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 14:03 GMT)

This is the first time in a long time that I am negative about the Proteas' chances. Alviro Petersen is not nowhere in form, in fact a walking wicket. Elgar is just not test standard (one good innings in test cricket vs NZ, but he was dropped early). Under the high ball he looked like a primary school boy. I simply have lost all confidence in him.Then rather Wayne Parnell - at least he can bowl. Steyn always has some or other injury, the latest jippo guts. What next? Philander looks as if he is sleep walking, bowling military medium on the legs and Morkel, well Morkel is just Morkel. Robbie P can talk the talk and he and JP Duminy are totally out of their league. JP has the worse average of any no 6 playing for SA since WW II. None of them in the team on merit. Apart from The Oval vs Eng, Amla scored the bulk of his runs after having been dropped, sometimes twice. Will that happen against Aus? Not likely! Last night I dreamt that AB went first ball. I woke up in a sweat!

Posted by Dirtysneakers on (February 19, 2014, 13:58 GMT)

@germanplayer although ab is averaging higher with the bat while he's keeping, it means he has no time to cool down. He has to concentrate 100% while he's batting and 100% in the field. While he may average more he won't be able to score bigger runs. If he's able to relax in the field and not worry about keeping he will be able to go onto bigger scores like 200 etc

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 13:46 GMT)

It someone says anything negative about MJ and the Aussies then they are being disrespectful while the aussies are spouting their bull about everyone else whenever they feel like it. Because Smith gets out to MJ does not mean he loses his right to an opinion. It seems that test cricket started with the recent ashes and everything done before that never existed. Smith is and always will be one of the most respected and successful captains to ever play the game. The arrogance of some supporters is a insult to the teams they support. I hope for a better show from Steyn and Vern who earned their reputations from consistent performances over a long period of time.

Posted by SAFan11 on (February 19, 2014, 13:41 GMT)

I think leaving grass on the wicket will not affect Johnson as much as it will the Aus batting. SA should leave all the grass on. I think Clarke's comments are a cleaver attempt to make the groundsmen cut the grass short. Venues are all to aware that if the game lasts 3 days they don't make as much money. I hope they don't buy into it, SA needs a win not a draw and that means taking 20 wickets.

Posted by JohnMR on (February 19, 2014, 13:30 GMT)

Shouldn't be between Parnell and Elgar, Parnell should be a definite given the injury to McLaren. SA should definitely go in with 7 frontline batters because of the Aus attack and Robbie P (so useless) should finally take a back seat. JP is a better spinner than Robbie anyway. And Elgar is a not so bad left arm off spin bowler too.

Sorry Rob, your time is finally up.

Posted by Jimmyvida on (February 19, 2014, 13:21 GMT)

Hope this wicket plays on the slow side. AB is making runs at #5. No change for him, please. SA are getting 'panniky.' If Peterson fails in opening position. By Zeus, open with AB. If Amla fails at #3, well, of course, the solution at #3 is AB. He should be the man for all positions. Wake up guys.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 13:15 GMT)

@vaughnographic, thanks for the info. Leie has good figures and an impressive strike rate, would say that he definitely warrants a look in at national level. Von Berg's batting stats when combined with his bowling suggest to me that he's also worth a look, but I must admit that I've not seen a great deal of either as I live in the UK. Seems as though there are at least 3 spin options when you consider those 2 and Harmer, and if I had any influence with the selectors I'd be getting them involved in the A squad perhaps sending the SA A side on a tour to the sub-continent.

Posted by AltafPatel on (February 19, 2014, 13:13 GMT)

Pitch with inconsistent bounces and negative bowling by MJ were the reason for inconvenience of SA batsmen which will not be in case in rest of series as pitch will be sporting and SA will have plan for MJ bounces as India did so in ODI series (3-2 win for India) after first match loss against MJ bounces.

Posted by Brett_Johnson on (February 19, 2014, 13:12 GMT)

"The stats, even in the Ashes, say that he picked up a lot of lower-order wickets."

Since the start of the Ashes 31 of his 47 wickets have been top 7. Not only is it a dumb comment from Smith to make - considering Mitch got him out twice in only 4 balls - it's also blatantly wrong.

Posted by Great_Nate on (February 19, 2014, 13:08 GMT)

@germanplayer: Totally agree. AB's average is better than keeper than when not. Saffer cricket supporters opinion and cricket stats are completely incompatible.

The difference has been Australia's top order batting and SA's bowling. How many times did England have the Aussies 5 - 120? 4 out of 5? I expected Australia to struggle to get 250 in their first innings.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (February 19, 2014, 13:02 GMT)

What a ridiculous thing to say (Smith re. Johnson = lower-order wickets + the wicket key to his success)... Real genius to provoke a fast bowler in the form of his life that has just decimated your team in the previous game...

Anyways, get the impression this game will be all about the swing and seam. Would be interesting if Bird gets the nod ahead of Lyon for this game. The team that takes 20 wickets for the fewest runs will win - oh wait, that's test cricket isn't it? *face-palm*

Posted by Andre117 on (February 19, 2014, 12:59 GMT)

AB must keep as the next keeper in line (undeservedly, IMHO) is Tsolekile, who is not good enough as a batsman. After our failure in the first test we need better batting, not worse. Quinton de Kock is not the best keeper in the country, but neither was AB when he started and I think we can say the same of Adam Gilchrist. Gilchrist became one of the best (2nd after Sangakarra) keeper-batsmen in the world and both AB and Quinny has improved tremendously with experience. I would drop Robin and put in Quinton and Beuran Hendricks. Duminy and Faf can do the slow bowling.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 12:58 GMT)

De Villiers must open alongside Smith. Duminy can bat at 7 and be our main spinner. de Kock can bat at 5 and David Miller at 6. Parnell can come in at 9 to bolster our batting and offer an extra seam option. That's 1.Smith 2. de Villiers 3. Amla 4. Faf 5. de Kock 6. Miller 7. Duminy 8. Philander 9. Parnell 10. Steyn 11. Morkel.

Our problem in this particular series is that Johnson is helluva intimidating -- on any pitch -- and we need batsmen with something to prove, thus we need youth who are in form. With the current team this series is already lost, and Smith et al are in complete denial. Alviro is a dicey pick against Johnson and so is Dean who got a pair against him on debut. Miller is in good knick and de Kock has guts. Duminy can benefit from less pressure at 7, and Philander has looked good against Mitch so he slots in at 8. de Kock can also keep wicket. It is drastic, but unless we go drastic WE WILL LOSE THIS SERIES WHITEWASH STYLE!!

Posted by GermanPlayer on (February 19, 2014, 12:45 GMT)

"whether his wicketkeeping duties will have any adverse effect on his batting. "

What does AB has to do to prove that wicketkeeping does not affect his batting. He has been the no1 or no2 ranked player or some time and his batting has improved since he took on the gloves. Why does everyone want him to fail?

Posted by cccrider on (February 19, 2014, 12:40 GMT)

I've counted about 20 players put up for SA test selection. Talk about panic.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 12:40 GMT)

I'm getting a little irritated at the way some of the media are carrying on as if Australia have already won 3-0 and are made up of 11 Greek Gods which are unbeatable. They're NOT unbeatable. They're 11 flesh-and-blood men, just like the SA team.

Not saying that SA WILL bounce back, just saying that to write us off so early is dangerous.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (February 19, 2014, 12:34 GMT)

FirstBorn; Australia are not going to drop Lyon and go with a 4 pace attack. Have to get through 90 overs in a day 4 paceman and 2 very part time spinners not going to happen. Lyon has een an excellent contributor right from when he came back in India and can't see any logical reason to go without him.

Posted by ThyrSaadam on (February 19, 2014, 12:32 GMT)

SA biggest problem well atleast two big problems are that Vernon cannot perform if the pitch does not have anything and their 4th bowling (spin bowling) option just out right lacks the class. While they don't have a spinner the Vernon predicament may actually back fire, you give pacer friendly conditions, and with Oz bowling hitting peak form SA are going to gamble. Perhaps they"ll take that Orion and just hope that one of the their batsmen just play innings of their lives. Btw Smith is not really clever. What a foolish sig at the current best bowler in the world just after he's knocked you twice. And also oz not even a one man pace attack. Give them helpful conditions and Harris can do as much damage. SA surely facing the heat. Until they fix their spin bowling they will never truly be a no 1 side. They are as good a #1 as India is # 2.

Posted by gimme-a-greentop on (February 19, 2014, 12:14 GMT)

I know AB's record as a keeper/batsman is excellent, and he is actually a really good keeper with those lightning reflexes, but the fact of the matter is that now Kallis has retired, he and Amla are the two best batsmen SA have got. The sooner he gives up the gloves the better the team will be able to withstand the period of adjustment to life without Kallis. He needs to bat 4 , period.

Posted by uncanny on (February 19, 2014, 12:13 GMT)

As per my opinion AB should bat at 4, means he should be revealed from wicket keeping duties, so tsolikile should come as wicket keeper. Drop robie P, bring in wayane parnell, This will bolster batting as well as bowling. My team is smith, alviro, amla, AB, faf, duminy, tsolikile, parnell, philander, steyn, morkel. But i would have loved QD in place of alviro and Abott in place of tsolikile. But none of them are in the squad.

Posted by First_Drop on (February 19, 2014, 12:05 GMT)

Not sure about the wicket, but dropping Lyon for another pace bowler (Bird) woudl seem to be a good option for the Aussies. Could also use Smith and Warner to bowl spin if required. I really liked the control Smith showed in the few overs he got in the Ashes - Pup doesn't bowl him often enough.

Posted by Vaughanographic on (February 19, 2014, 12:04 GMT)

Niel Ross.. Shaun Von Berg is a leg-spinner (who can bat a bit too). He can spin the ball a lot and was effective in limited overs cricket but he just hasnt picked up that many wickets at a good rate at first class level to challenge for the national team. In terms of leg-spin stakes Eddie Leie (also raw and unproven) is probably ahead. Daryn Smit is a tidy leggy and a wicketkeeper and number 7 bat which I think the selectors should at least consider to give AB some rest. The main spinner domestically must be Simon Harmer who also bats 7 and bowls a LOT of overs for the warriors. His time will come sooner rather than later. Whether he is test class remains to be seem but he deserves a go in our next series

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 11:50 GMT)

Can people stop putting Shane Watson name in the mix to play for Australia?? He does not belong in the team anymore, Australia bring him to South Africa and at the rate Australia is playing he will not play a game. If they are looking for an all rounder go find one that is much younger and is not going to get injured every other series.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 11:48 GMT)

David Miller...he should be the 7th batsman.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 11:46 GMT)

Why are we still selecting Robbie P.. he struggle to take wickets and does not have the ability to take wickets...rather play no spinner than playing a weak spinner.

JP seem a better spinner.

At the moment SA do not have decent spinners...Dane Piedt is the future...raw...can bat a bit...should look at him.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 11:42 GMT)

Robbie P need to be dropped. SA's best spinner at the moment is Dane Piedt. He however will not be selected in the near future...selectors are too cautious.

7 batsmen is what was thw secret to SA's success...why change now.

Drop Robbie P...select Parnel/Abbot/Hebricks to replace him. Select a quality batsman to replace McClaren...who is this batsman...not Elgar...maybe Stiaan van Zyl...he akso bowl decent spin...and what about Ashwell Prince...he is still scoring lots of runs in SA and county 1st class cricket...but they will never select him...on form he is good enough.

Elgar not in good form at the moment...or is he our "Hunch"...I cant see him scoring much...will probably score a hundred now...I hope so.

Graene Smith...your batsmen looked scared...you as well...dont say Mitch take mostly lower order batsmwn when he destroyed our top order. Rather say nothing

Mitch was unplayable...give credit wherw credit is due.

All the best SA.

Posted by PrasPunter on (February 19, 2014, 11:34 GMT)

@Appu Dasa, appears to be more of a wishful thinking from you rather than a statement of fact. Aus haven't got cocky after the win. Clarke was humble enough to admit that not everyday would they be able to beat the World No 1. So don't try to push your opinions as facts !!

Posted by SAF-Fan-no-1 on (February 19, 2014, 11:34 GMT)

Remember - Australia is always bullying other contry. OK one test is not enough to juj. Lets' play another Test and see how its go.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 11:23 GMT)

For me the temptation would be to go for Elgar to strengthen the batting, but Parnell has been batting well too and is aggressive in his approach which is what I think you need when facing Johnson - as Stokes demonstrated for England.

If it were left up to me I'd bring in both, dropping Robbie P. I don't think the game is going to go on long enough for spin to play a major part, and Duminy/Elgar can offer a bit of slow bowling should it be necessary. From the current squad I would select - Smith, Peterson, Amla, De Villiers, Du Plessis, Elgar, Duminy, Philander, Parnell, Steyn, Morkel.

Ultimately I would look to bring in De Kock, Hendricks and Harmer for our next test series. Shaun von Berg caught my eye over the weekend, as he's a leg-spinner I was immediately interested but don't know enough about him to know if he's a genuine prospect for the national side. Anybody know more about him?

Posted by SachinRao on (February 19, 2014, 11:22 GMT)

I agree withe view of getting parnell and elgar/any other specialist batsman in place robin and injured McLaren. I am quite shocked to not have somebody like DeKock in place of alviro. Even if its a spinner than Tahir is a much better bet than robin, but batting is a serious concern.

Posted by Mitty2 on (February 19, 2014, 11:19 GMT)

Jesse Hogan reporting that an all pace attack for Aus a possibility... Not opposed to it - Lyon's restricted to a holding role atm. Plus it gives the opportunity to my fav. bird. Haven't heard much about him and Patto's net form, so based on form coming in you'd think that Bird would be ahead of Patto.

You have to laugh at Smith's comments... "Lower order wickets" --> He got you out in at least an over every time and had Faf and Alviro out every time. Bit hypocritical about the "bull dot dot" there Graeme. Guess it's hard knowing you're totally inept without Kallis as captain.

Posted by WheresTheEmpire on (February 19, 2014, 11:17 GMT)

Well it's not all about MJ, it's also about the Aus batting and SA fielding and a lot of other factors.

It is certainly about a top team hitting back after a defeat and a team in hot form looking to continue its development in a pivotal match in what may turn out to be a pivotal series. No matter what the result Shoot Out At The PE Corral has all the makings of a classic.

Posted by First_Drop on (February 19, 2014, 11:16 GMT)

Assuming the same team is retained for the 2nd test, the big threat to Australia, whilst lacking an all-rounder replacement for Watson (what a shame Faulkner is injured), will be injury to one of the 3 pace bowlers. Harris is a great bowler but susceptible to injury, as we know. Jonhson is being used in short burst, which s is putting a sigificant strain on the other bowlers. Were one of them to be injured it could certainly turn the test.

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 11:12 GMT)

I think just as Aussies has done in the past, they have become too cocky. Better not think that South Africa are down and out. There is much to happen in this series and one swallow does not make a summer. The number 7 can become not so lucky for Aussies, and with their superior attitude could come crashing down. By this time tomorrow we will be watching a different tale to what Chappell and others are saying. Too early to count SA out of the series. too much reliance on one man could spell doom for Aussies. Let us see tomorrow

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (February 19, 2014, 11:11 GMT)

The most interesting things will be what Smith will do if he wins the toss. He copped criticism for bowling first last time, and there were whispers that he was scared to face Mo-Jo. That will play on the mind of a proud sportsman. But the pitch looks like it might be good for bowling first. So it will be some dilemma!

Posted by KeithMillersHair on (February 19, 2014, 11:11 GMT)

South Africa going through a similar selection issue to that Australia went through very recently. Both making the mistake of picking too many bits and pieces players. Although the difference is SA are trying to replace a genuine all-rounder - and genuine legend of the game - whereas Australia were just making a mess of things. SA have Duminy, Mclarren/Parnel/Elgar and Peterson in their side - none of whom are good enough IMO to be included as specialist batsmen or bowlers. It is very similar to when Australia was picking Maxwell, Henriques etc. You need specialists. Even Watson, who is a much better all-rounder than any of the above is not really good enough to be in a high-performing side. Whereas a player like Kallis was a good enough batsmen to be in any team, regardless of his - also very good - bowling. SA still have the luxury of having a wicket keeper who can bat. They should pick six genuine batsmen and four genuine bowlers - with Duminy's spin at seven if they can't do better

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 11:09 GMT)

With all due respect to Robbie p he's no test match player he's proved it so many times. What am I missing

Posted by SurlyCynic on (February 19, 2014, 11:03 GMT)

Any captain will try to talk up their team after a morale-sapping loss, Smith knows full well that Johnson in his present form can dominate on any pitch. He is a different beast to the one SA faced in 2012.

I'm really looking forward to this even if, as an SA supporter, I may have to watch my team get rolled over again. Johnson's fiery bowling, AB's skill in tough conditions provided some of the best cricket I've watched in years.

All I hope is that they select a better team. The squad is a joke so there aren't many options, but if the pitch has a bit of grass then surely they have to drop Robbie P, bring in Elgar and Parnell, use JP for a bit of spin. This improves the batting and pace bowling and the only thing lost is Robbie's 'spin'. But I doubt they'll do it, they'll be typically conservative and only replace McLaren.

Anyway, all the best to both teams. No variable bounce please - Mitch is tough enough on a true pitch!

Posted by social_monster09 on (February 19, 2014, 11:02 GMT)

Can anyone plzz tell that who is Dean Elgar? I mean he is a bowler or an all rounder or a batsman?

Posted by social_monster09 on (February 19, 2014, 10:59 GMT)

Yes!! Clarke is absolutely right this match will stays 3 or last 4 days. Result will come for sure. Obviously Australia is on upper hand but proteas are known for come back. But if there will be healthy covering of grass on this pitch as mentioned it will sure help Aussies more than S Africans. Well can't wait for tomorrow.Get ready for some Fast & Furious Match. Hopefully no one get injured

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 10:56 GMT)

My take on SteynVSJohnson is bit different. Steyn has kinda given up and Johnson is improving ball by ball. He has continued with sheer pace and breath taking bouncers and this is why he's been succeeding. However it is fear of being injured and end up in Hospital. Ryan Harris is Bowling good line and length which is also complementing all the effort put up by Johnson. Clark & co have a very good chance of winning the second test if they put up big scores and leave rest on the pace attack!

Posted by   on (February 19, 2014, 10:49 GMT)

i hope aussis will win the match but S.A have also a good bowling line so expected that it will be great match of the sereis

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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