South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Port Elizabeth February 19, 2014

Air of discontent around South Africa

It has been a tricky few days for South African cricket, and not just because of Mitchell Johnson. They have come from behind many times to draw or win Test series and, on what promises to be a lively pitch, must do so again
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There is something heavy in the Port Elizabeth air and it is not just the humidity. Although the mugginess has reached levels around 85% since the beginning of the week, it is the atmosphere around the South African camp that is loaded with concerns ahead of a Test match they must win if they are to become the first team since readmission to win a series against Australia at home.

That burden would be tough enough to bear on its own and South Africa have not got that lucky. Apart from a lack of competitive cricket ahead of the series, which Graeme Smith once again lamented in his pre-match press conference, this week has been particularly wearing for them. It has been riddled with miscommunication over the availability of their new No.7, bad news for two other members of their current squad who discovered mid-series they are no longer centrally contracted and hype over the Port Elizabeth pitch, which up until yesterday had so much grass on it, it scared its own groundsman. And that is before even thinking of Mitchell Johnson.

All that sounds like a tangled knot so let us unscramble it from the first loose end. Ryan McLaren was hit on the head on Saturday. He spent Sunday night in hospital and it then became apparent that he would not be available for the second Test. On Monday, national coach Russell Domingo and convener of selectors Andrew Hudson announced the World Twenty20 squad in Johannesburg and Hudson was specifically questions about the Test team's performance.

Although Hudson confirmed the No.7 spot was still a point of debate, he did not in any way suggest McLaren could not be considered. In fact, the impression created was that McLaren was as much in contention as any other player. It was only early on Tuesday morning that McLaren was officially ruled out, narrowing the choice to Wayne Parnell, Dean Elgar, Rory Kleinveldt or Thami Tsolekile.

McLaren, at least, got luckier than either Elgar or Tsolekile who found out mid-series that their national contracts will not be renewed for the 2014-15 season. While Tsolekile has not played a game for South Africa since being contracted two seasons ago as the successor to Mark Boucher and has now lost ground to Quinton de Kock in that department, Elgar, who is the only spare specialist batsman in the current Test squad, could be on the verge of a recall.

Given Elgar bagged a pair on Test debut in Perth and dropped David Warner, who went on to score a hundred, when on as a substitute fielder in Centurion, Elgar's confidence against Australia is not exactly soaring. This could only add to it.

Contracts are usually announced around this time in February but it may have been wiser for CSA to wait until South Africa were in a better position in the series or finished with it completely. Smith admitted the timing was not ideal and the players involved will have to be treated with a little more care from him.

"It's obviously tough. I guess my role is just to help keep them focused on what is important and that is tomorrow," he said. "If they get the opportunity to play then that's a chance for them to put that right and to show people that they're worthy. So my job is to help keep them focused. It's obviously another curveball that's tough to deal with, but we've just got to find a way really."

For Tsolekile and Elgar the news is not good but for others, especially those who may have been concerned about keeping their spots, the contract list will come as some relief. Robin Peterson could be one of them, as could Alviro Petersen.

Petersen's middling form has increased calls for South Africa to look for another partner for Smith but it seems that they have had to put that on the backburner for now. Smith said it was "unlikely," he would walk out to bat with someone else at St George's Park. "Alviro had a decent Indian tour on tough wickets," he said, referring to the two half-centuries Petersen raised his bat to in December. "He has been around for a period of time and he knows his game. I expect him to bounce back."

Smith expects that from all of his players and for them to do that he believes they need to treat this match the way other captains may tell their team to approach an away game: by adapting to conditions. South Africa, deserved No.1s that they are, should be able to play on all their home grounds like they own them yet they still talk about them as though they are property of someone else and it seems that is because they are.

Even though groundsman Adrian Carter said he would wait for instruction from Domingo and the South African camp before deciding how much grass to take off the pitch, Smith indicated the home side had minimal influence on the type of surface this match will be played on. "I find that when you ask for things you generally don't get them," he said.

Carter gave the pitch a mow mid-morning on Wednesday and may yet take more grass off it before the match. Whether he will do so on South Africa's request or his knowledge of whether he needs a covering to avoid having it break up too early is not known but Smith hinted it would be the latter. "He knows this pitch better than anyone else."

And South Africa know who they will have to face on it. Johnson winded them in a way no one has done since the last time he did it himself five years ago and in between wading through these other issues they have had to think about a plan for a counterattack. That is where Smith believes they could be at their best, because he has seen them bounce back from slow starts in the past.

"Maybe we just don't like to throw the first punch," he said. "We've got to know how to respond and that's where experience plays a big role. This week is about not carrying too much baggage from Centurion."

He is right about that. South Africa cannot afford excess at all; their load is heavy enough already.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Duidelik on | February 20, 2014, 7:50 GMT

    Strange as it sounds, SA has a better away record than home record these days due to them not ''owning'' their own pitches. We have surfaces in SA that can be compared to any other country in world cricket. Centurion = WACA Newslands = Lords St Georges Park = Eden Gardens Buffalo Park = Basin Reserve, etc. This means that they are sometimes confused coz they are playing in different conditions in their own country! There's also the ''climate change'' / unseasonal weather factor that affects the pitches.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | February 20, 2014, 7:32 GMT

    Jagger - I am a SA supporter. While I agree that Aus have been playing like the No 1 team for the last few months, the rankings are based on consistency. SA have been by far the most consistent team over the last 5 years while Aus have struggled at times. Hence the ranking positions. Don't get me wrong, Aus have been brilliant since they toured Ind, but rankings are not based on a series by series performance. Good luck to both teams today.

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | February 20, 2014, 7:13 GMT

    Had it not rained at the Gabba and Pattinson broken down we'd have been the number one team in the world. Would we have deserved to call ourselves the number one team? Not a chance, we would have deserved to win the series but we were a long way off from being a number one team. SA got there but a real no 1 team needs to remain at the top for 3 years minimum otherwise they are just no. 1 by default.

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | February 20, 2014, 7:10 GMT

    @TheBigBoodha, I don't care that overseas teams doctor pitches, as long as we don't. We'll get them eventually and when we do the victory is sweeter. Of course that doesn't mean we don't continually get accused of doctoring pitches that remain the same for a 100 years.

  • POSTED BY Andre117 on | February 20, 2014, 6:30 GMT

    If we want to win this series, we only need to do one thing: blunt Mitchell "the grim reaper" Johnson's scythe. If we can prevent him from rolling us over again and let the Aussies bowl more than 100 overs in an innings then we can win. Johnson's exploits demoralized the entire team and affected the bowlers as well. Learn to handle Johnson and we'll win. My advice: put on some extra padding around your middle and keep the bat away from that short ball.

  • POSTED BY Jagger on | February 20, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    The point should be made that for the past week, Australia has looked the undisputed number 1 ranked team and South Africa in complete disarray. The week before they were telling us it was the other way around. It's exactly as it was before The Ashes, recently completed.

    May I state categorically, the ICC rankings are a load of nonsense as soon as a team makes a significant change in personnel. I don't know why, but evidently there are people who can't comprehend that simple fact. I don't believe George Bailey is a better t20 batsman than Chris Gayle for one minute and I certainly do not believe Peter Siddle is as high as the 6th-best Test bowler in the world! With hindsight, Australia has not been ranked as low as 3rd in Test Match cricket since Boof took over.

    If South Africa and England had been listening instead of talking, then maybe, just maybe, they'd get some kudos from us. Instead it all looks so ridiculously jingoistic from where I'm standing. Get a clue, fellas.

  • POSTED BY on | February 20, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    The series will be won by mighty Aussies by the stumps of the first day!

  • POSTED BY MaruthuDelft on | February 20, 2014, 6:02 GMT

    @Ram, You and Indian fans must have some patience. First India should deliver some performances in Eng, Aus and SA before you start comparing and saying things like every team is good at home bad away or every batsman would have problems with 150 kay shorters. They are true to some extent but that doesn't make India equal to SA, Aus or Eng. India has never been a quality side for lack of good fast bowlers. You fill that first before contending with SA, Aus and Eng fans else it is just silly.

  • POSTED BY yoohoo on | February 20, 2014, 5:52 GMT

    @ GermanPlayer - Nothing wrong in what Ram said. This is the same Aus, India beat at home 4 - 0, to which SA is losing to at home!! Atleast India can claim they have a new batting line up, most of whom had played less than 10 tests when they toured SA. And anyway, the reason India lost in SA and NZ is their bowlers, not their batsman! You might want to go look at the scorecards of the first Test in Johanesburg where Faf had to save SA as usual on the final day!

    SA has been the most over-rated no.1 for quite some time. And it is just becoming obvious now.

  • POSTED BY Great_Nate on | February 20, 2014, 4:51 GMT

    So MJ is only effective against the tail? I guess SA's batting line up is night watchman, night watchman, Amla, pretender, AB, tailenders! Because only Amla and AB have a clue against MJ. And it will be the same in PE

  • POSTED BY Duidelik on | February 20, 2014, 7:50 GMT

    Strange as it sounds, SA has a better away record than home record these days due to them not ''owning'' their own pitches. We have surfaces in SA that can be compared to any other country in world cricket. Centurion = WACA Newslands = Lords St Georges Park = Eden Gardens Buffalo Park = Basin Reserve, etc. This means that they are sometimes confused coz they are playing in different conditions in their own country! There's also the ''climate change'' / unseasonal weather factor that affects the pitches.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | February 20, 2014, 7:32 GMT

    Jagger - I am a SA supporter. While I agree that Aus have been playing like the No 1 team for the last few months, the rankings are based on consistency. SA have been by far the most consistent team over the last 5 years while Aus have struggled at times. Hence the ranking positions. Don't get me wrong, Aus have been brilliant since they toured Ind, but rankings are not based on a series by series performance. Good luck to both teams today.

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | February 20, 2014, 7:13 GMT

    Had it not rained at the Gabba and Pattinson broken down we'd have been the number one team in the world. Would we have deserved to call ourselves the number one team? Not a chance, we would have deserved to win the series but we were a long way off from being a number one team. SA got there but a real no 1 team needs to remain at the top for 3 years minimum otherwise they are just no. 1 by default.

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | February 20, 2014, 7:10 GMT

    @TheBigBoodha, I don't care that overseas teams doctor pitches, as long as we don't. We'll get them eventually and when we do the victory is sweeter. Of course that doesn't mean we don't continually get accused of doctoring pitches that remain the same for a 100 years.

  • POSTED BY Andre117 on | February 20, 2014, 6:30 GMT

    If we want to win this series, we only need to do one thing: blunt Mitchell "the grim reaper" Johnson's scythe. If we can prevent him from rolling us over again and let the Aussies bowl more than 100 overs in an innings then we can win. Johnson's exploits demoralized the entire team and affected the bowlers as well. Learn to handle Johnson and we'll win. My advice: put on some extra padding around your middle and keep the bat away from that short ball.

  • POSTED BY Jagger on | February 20, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    The point should be made that for the past week, Australia has looked the undisputed number 1 ranked team and South Africa in complete disarray. The week before they were telling us it was the other way around. It's exactly as it was before The Ashes, recently completed.

    May I state categorically, the ICC rankings are a load of nonsense as soon as a team makes a significant change in personnel. I don't know why, but evidently there are people who can't comprehend that simple fact. I don't believe George Bailey is a better t20 batsman than Chris Gayle for one minute and I certainly do not believe Peter Siddle is as high as the 6th-best Test bowler in the world! With hindsight, Australia has not been ranked as low as 3rd in Test Match cricket since Boof took over.

    If South Africa and England had been listening instead of talking, then maybe, just maybe, they'd get some kudos from us. Instead it all looks so ridiculously jingoistic from where I'm standing. Get a clue, fellas.

  • POSTED BY on | February 20, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    The series will be won by mighty Aussies by the stumps of the first day!

  • POSTED BY MaruthuDelft on | February 20, 2014, 6:02 GMT

    @Ram, You and Indian fans must have some patience. First India should deliver some performances in Eng, Aus and SA before you start comparing and saying things like every team is good at home bad away or every batsman would have problems with 150 kay shorters. They are true to some extent but that doesn't make India equal to SA, Aus or Eng. India has never been a quality side for lack of good fast bowlers. You fill that first before contending with SA, Aus and Eng fans else it is just silly.

  • POSTED BY yoohoo on | February 20, 2014, 5:52 GMT

    @ GermanPlayer - Nothing wrong in what Ram said. This is the same Aus, India beat at home 4 - 0, to which SA is losing to at home!! Atleast India can claim they have a new batting line up, most of whom had played less than 10 tests when they toured SA. And anyway, the reason India lost in SA and NZ is their bowlers, not their batsman! You might want to go look at the scorecards of the first Test in Johanesburg where Faf had to save SA as usual on the final day!

    SA has been the most over-rated no.1 for quite some time. And it is just becoming obvious now.

  • POSTED BY Great_Nate on | February 20, 2014, 4:51 GMT

    So MJ is only effective against the tail? I guess SA's batting line up is night watchman, night watchman, Amla, pretender, AB, tailenders! Because only Amla and AB have a clue against MJ. And it will be the same in PE

  • POSTED BY on | February 20, 2014, 3:16 GMT

    If South Africa want to win, obviously they must leave out Peterson AND Petersen. Australia has won 6 Test matches in a row against teams containg a player with some variation on the name Peterson. So SA's obvious plan should be to eliminate the P-word from the team.

  • POSTED BY HatsforBats on | February 20, 2014, 3:01 GMT

    I just don't buy this whole 'slow starters' business. We keep hearing this from India, England, and now SA. Frankly, it sounds like a load of BS. Aus had zero opportunity to acclimatise or get in any sort of decent match practice and came out all guns blazing in the first test. Just what incentive do you need exactly to get out on the field and play for your country with a decent level of intent? Is this a cultural attitude?

    When you are the number one side in the world with the best batsmen and the best bowlers and coming off a recent series win at home and about to take on a dangerous but vulnerable team why are you not prepared?!

  • POSTED BY cnksnk on | February 20, 2014, 2:28 GMT

    Very Honestly this No 1 thing has been going on for too long. SA is a good team but not great. May be some of the other teams are just not good or are re building. A look at the SA performance in the last couple of years is one of drawn series and not of convincing wins like the Aussies of old. They lost the first test to Pakistan and would have lost to India if India had even a semblance of a bowler in the first test. The second test was lost because of 1 bad session. SA just seems to do enough to keep itself in contention and hence a number of 2 tests series or a maximum of 3. When was the last time they played 5 tests against any one. So a good team but with Kallis gone the glue is coming of. Steyn ( a fantastic bowler) may be showing signs of dropping form, remember the streak vs india when he went wicketless. So good team but may be a tad over hyped

  • POSTED BY Int.Curator on | February 20, 2014, 1:57 GMT

    Graeme, Australia didn't just throw the first punch.

    They knocked you and your team out on the canvas for a one count.

    The SA team is concussed daised and confused.

    The trainer can't help you now.

    If you haven't trained for it, its not going to happen out in the middle with any success.

  • POSTED BY on | February 20, 2014, 1:16 GMT

    Both South African Openers are scared of Australian Pace attack. This will cause another collapse. They need to replace both openers, that is the weak link. Openers failure in Test Cricket has great impact because it puts the opponent bowlers on a high. Smith and Pietrsen need to be replaced.

  • POSTED BY on | February 20, 2014, 0:43 GMT

    Winter is coming, South Africa. Brace yourselves...

  • POSTED BY Biggus on | February 20, 2014, 0:16 GMT

    Odd comment from Graeme Smith about being slow starters because they don't want to throw the first punch. Spin of the most dishonest kind really. It's bad enough the Saffers accept slow starting as a given fact, but it's another thing to try to talk of it as a virtue.

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | February 20, 2014, 0:10 GMT

    @Johan Kotze, mark my words, Australia will field no matter who wins the toss.

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | February 19, 2014, 23:22 GMT

    I can't believe how comprehensively SA have given up the ghost, even when England were dismantling us with innings defeats, we never lost our belief and were therefore able to mount a counter offensive in Perth. But one single defeat by SA who were kings of the universe last week, with confidence oozing from every pore, and they have turned into a pile of quivering jelly with Smith doing some frankly embarrassing trash talking. Only ABDeV has maintained not only his integrity but his honesty and skill, he needs to play the role that Clarke did in rebuilding SA.

  • POSTED BY dunger.bob on | February 19, 2014, 23:18 GMT

    Before a ball was bowled I said I didn't expect us (Aus) to win the series. I recall saying I would be happy if we could just get in there and rattle SA's cage a bit. .. Well, I think I can tick that box. SA looks to be sufficiently rattled and the cage is clanging.

    There are some Aussies, myself included, who think that SA will hit back hard. You just simply don't get where they are if you're a limited team with a low 'bounce back' factor. SA are not like that. They have an enormous capacity to counter punch and our guys had better be ready for it. The Saffa's will try to pressure our bowlers but that won't be easy. Our batting is a different story though. That's where they'll get us if they do get us. Our batters are going to have to hang tough because every run could be a potential match winner in this game.

    I'm expecting a tense, down to the wire battle that will be decided by the little things. At least I hope that's what we get.

  • POSTED BY thirdmanboundary on | February 19, 2014, 22:07 GMT

    SA usually wins at Centurion and usually loses at Port Elizabeth. Let's hope history reverses itself again as it did last week. The key is the SA attack being sharper, Vernon and Dale and Morne taking quick wickets in the first 10 overs. And sharper fielding. You can't gift australians centuries when you have Mitch breathing fire in the wings.

  • POSTED BY TheBigBoodha on | February 19, 2014, 21:46 GMT

    Fascinating scenario. If the pitch really is as scary and furry as some have reported it may turn out to be a bit of a lottery. The track probably won't give SA bowlers any headway over Australia, but maybe they are thinking it will give their batsmen an advantage, as Australian players are not used to too much lateral movement. It also brings Philander back into the game.

    In the end I liked Ponting's comment about having a hotline to the curator. He said he never once had any say in pitch preparation during his tenure as AUS captain. It does rankle a bit that we Aussies give visiting teams a fair go with conditions but we never get the same treatment when we travel abroad. I suppose we think we are good enough to win without shifting the goalposts.

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | February 19, 2014, 20:11 GMT

    @ Paul Rone-Clarke. As a Saffa I can't disagree with you. Complaints that Johnson is Aus' only strength are clearly idiotic. Harris is a fantastic bowler. Marsh & Doolan stuck to their task - Johnson did not make their runs for them. And, as you pointed out, only AB got on top of Johnson, and dealt with him. The rest did not. Faf looked promising in inns 2, but that sneaky grubber got him before we could see if he could pressure Johnson. That ball staying low was solely Smith's fault for batting 2nd.

    SA has no excuses, and claiming that Aus is all Johnson is pathetic. Doolan held those 2 game changing catches, not Mitch. Ignoring that contribution disrespects Doolan.

    No doubt SA had some bad luck, but that all started with the toss. The toss was bad captaincy, and it all flowed downhill from there. Bad decisions create bad circumstances. Smith put SA on the back foot right away.

    I will say this. Elgar may have bagged a pair against Aus. At least he had a pair to bag

  • POSTED BY ballonbat on | February 19, 2014, 18:58 GMT

    @ ZCFOutkast, The 'dull identity' of Steyn. Come on. What are you going on about? Steyn is one of the very best fast bowlers not only today but of all time. Even at Centurion when he was off-colour and everyone was going on about Mitch, he still picked up 6 wickets. And he is only a year older than Faf, so what makes you think Faf will be in the team any longer than him? It's far more likely that Faf will go. Well, we can but hope. I agree with you that it would be nice to wave goodbye to Smith, Faf and McLaren, but can't see why you want to get rid of Steyn and Morkel, two of the main reasons the Proteas got to the top.

    Miller's looking better and better in first class games and I hope he's soon in the side. You can add Beuran Hendricks, Marchant de Lange (if ever fit) and Stiaan van Zyl to your list. Only problem is the line up has too many left-handers.

  • POSTED BY GermanPlayer on | February 19, 2014, 18:50 GMT

    @Ram No one's been bulling the Asian teams with green pitches. Have you forgotten the pitches that India got in December? They were NOT green. Come to think of it even Peterson got 6 wicekts in a ninnings! But India's Jadeja and Ashwin were not able to cope with the 'subcontinent' wickets. Don't even ask me about revisiting the scorelines of that series.

    As for India, have you forgotten the kanpur square turner that helped India draw the series against SA when they lost the first test?

    SA haven't lost an away test since 2006! They have no problem winning in foreign conditions then why would they doctor theur pitches to bully others? Please stay to the Ind-NZ series...oh sorry its already over. India couldn't win a single game on the tour!

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2014, 18:08 GMT

    SA and every other team that bullies sub-continent players for their lack of ability to play short pitched bowling must remember that, when the shoe is on the other foot it is not funny any more. This is the same SA, which was asking for a green top two months ago when India was touring. Looks like they have suddenly developed aversion for grass:)

  • POSTED BY Akhter786 on | February 19, 2014, 18:08 GMT

    Tough ask for them. How can you counter a rampant side. How can you tame a ragging bull charging at you on all thrusts.

    Amla definitely need to rise upto the occasion because if he doesn't this time also, no one else will come to share the burden with ABD.

    It is these two who should do it from Johnson point of view. Surely Steyn would want to show who is the current leader of fast bowling.

    But here comes Mitch!!! Game is on!!!

  • POSTED BY ZCFOutkast on | February 19, 2014, 17:24 GMT

    @AltafPatel why waste time on Rudolph when we can call upon Bavuma or other quality young batsmen. That's a regressive step. We might as well consider Ashwell Prince, Steven Cook & Neil McKenzie while we're at it. I think Elgar might be a candidate for another king pair. Aussies salivating at the prospect no doubt!

  • POSTED BY AltafPatel on | February 19, 2014, 16:46 GMT

    SA need to plan for batting depth. Elgar or Rudolph is must particularly when you are playing test against attack that's in top form. Their top order might have learned and planned to tackle MJ, so 12 wickets might not repeat rest of the series.

  • POSTED BY AltafPatel on | February 19, 2014, 16:40 GMT

    Should play Elgar for McLarren and Parnel for Petersen.

  • POSTED BY ZCFOutkast on | February 19, 2014, 16:34 GMT

    "Don't like to throw the first punch...got to know how to respond" - It's no wonder the Proteas, England & India have never been a dominant team at any point, no matter how many times and for how long they may have been ranked the top team!

    The dull identity of the team will at least be improved a bit with certain players falling away(Kallis, Smith, Steyn, Morkel etc). Amla&AB may be joined by Bavuma, Miller, Leie, Panell, QdK etc in the next year or two making the team more watchable and thrillingly unpredictable, but the presence of Faf&McLaren may obscure that to some degree.

  • POSTED BY Lloydster on | February 19, 2014, 16:29 GMT

    Forget about Kallis, forget about the Aussies trying to get into the heads of the Proteas. Smith and co need to act like pros and not get caught up in this typical CSA bungling. Petersons batting has been poor, Smith again not in any form - why ? This whole series is full of speculation and nonsense which is unfortunate as the Aussies love it as they have already beaten us 3-0 mentally .Mich this and that -what about the "steyn remover". Get out there and play proper cricket SA.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2014, 16:17 GMT

    It's all very well saying that MJ is the difference between the two sides and that without him the result would have been closer. This selective revisionism doesn't work. How bad would SA have been without one player as well?

    DeVilliers was all that stood between SA and an 8 session defeat.. almost 6 of those sessions would have been chasing the ball for the Aussie batters, then about 2 hours and 40 minutes per innings for the SA batters.

    So yes - Aussies would not be as good without their best player. SA would go from bad to terrible without theirs!

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2014, 16:07 GMT

    Media hype or no, SA are on the backfoot in the series. We all know SA do not start a series well but the nature of defeat this time does not bod well for the team. Even Graeme Smith tried to belittle MJ's performance in the 1st test by saying that he got pitch assistance and he gets tail ender wickets more. I do not remember him ever talking down a opposition bowler like this. I really think MJ's got into their heads and how they deal with his bowling will decide the fate of the series. AB alone cannot counter and score all the runs. He needs some much needed support.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2014, 16:06 GMT

    I'd like to know how you counter 150km/h at your throat? SA just do not have the strength of character to deal with the all round Australian bowling. AB is all they have against this firing Oz unit. Steyn must come to the party for SA to have any chance. Philander is not capable of instilling fear in the OZ batsmen. Anyway we'll see but I predict it will be 2-0 after PE.

  • POSTED BY bottom_feeder on | February 19, 2014, 15:37 GMT

    Much talk has been made of Mitchell Johnson being the difference between the two sides. Less has been made of the fact that without AB's contributions, SA would have lost the last test in less than three days. South Africa are in serious trouble and they will need to prey for rain to prevent a 3-0 whitewash.

  • POSTED BY ishrat1971 on | February 19, 2014, 14:58 GMT

    @ss3nov I agree. We all know SA are slow starters. They are the No. 1 team and have ben playing great test match cricket for the last many years. They have the requisite bench strength and resources. The media is painting them out to be spooked by Mitch. Ok the guy is bowling well but seriously do you think Smith, Amla and De Villers with the support cast would lay over and capitulate. Hopefully Steyn has recovered from the bug and is back to his destructive best, Morkel and Philander with Klienveldt would be the four pronged pace attack with Dean Elgar coming in for JP Duminy. Peterson deserves another chance in the light of the PE pitch which usually assists spinners

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2014, 14:56 GMT

    OK! That means Smithie will field first. Goody. Aus 278 for 3 at end of day 1. How can Elgar expect a contract if he cannot catch and Thami if he cannot bat?

  • POSTED BY Hello13 on | February 19, 2014, 14:53 GMT

    It's been one game. Calm down, Australia have many weaknesses in their batting that South Africa will be able to exploit.

  • POSTED BY Kirstenfan on | February 19, 2014, 14:51 GMT

    SA starts every series badly, better things to come tomorrow and the next few days (but won't be a 5 day test!) - Vernon to be deadly at St Georges, watch this space!!!

  • POSTED BY Akhter786 on | February 19, 2014, 14:41 GMT

    Tough ask for them. How can you counter a rampant side. How can you tame a ragging bull charging at you on all thrusts.

    Amla definitely need to rise upto the occasion because if he doesn't this time also, no one else will come to share the burden with ABD.

    It is these two who should do it from Johnson point of view. Surely Steyn would want to show who is the current leader of fast bowling.

    But here comes Mitch!!! Game is on!!!

  • POSTED BY ss3nov on | February 19, 2014, 14:31 GMT

    My my... its funny how quickly things unravel when just one game is lost... I think the media and everybody else is hasty in thinking SA is down and out... I for one think that such an over-reaction is not warranted. SAFFA's have the required strength to come out of this flying... Go SAFFA's.. Show 'em...

  • POSTED BY yjreddyindia on | February 19, 2014, 14:25 GMT

    Kallis had provided the great luxury for southafrica as an allrounder.now they are not able to find replacement.

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  • POSTED BY yjreddyindia on | February 19, 2014, 14:25 GMT

    Kallis had provided the great luxury for southafrica as an allrounder.now they are not able to find replacement.

  • POSTED BY ss3nov on | February 19, 2014, 14:31 GMT

    My my... its funny how quickly things unravel when just one game is lost... I think the media and everybody else is hasty in thinking SA is down and out... I for one think that such an over-reaction is not warranted. SAFFA's have the required strength to come out of this flying... Go SAFFA's.. Show 'em...

  • POSTED BY Akhter786 on | February 19, 2014, 14:41 GMT

    Tough ask for them. How can you counter a rampant side. How can you tame a ragging bull charging at you on all thrusts.

    Amla definitely need to rise upto the occasion because if he doesn't this time also, no one else will come to share the burden with ABD.

    It is these two who should do it from Johnson point of view. Surely Steyn would want to show who is the current leader of fast bowling.

    But here comes Mitch!!! Game is on!!!

  • POSTED BY Kirstenfan on | February 19, 2014, 14:51 GMT

    SA starts every series badly, better things to come tomorrow and the next few days (but won't be a 5 day test!) - Vernon to be deadly at St Georges, watch this space!!!

  • POSTED BY Hello13 on | February 19, 2014, 14:53 GMT

    It's been one game. Calm down, Australia have many weaknesses in their batting that South Africa will be able to exploit.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2014, 14:56 GMT

    OK! That means Smithie will field first. Goody. Aus 278 for 3 at end of day 1. How can Elgar expect a contract if he cannot catch and Thami if he cannot bat?

  • POSTED BY ishrat1971 on | February 19, 2014, 14:58 GMT

    @ss3nov I agree. We all know SA are slow starters. They are the No. 1 team and have ben playing great test match cricket for the last many years. They have the requisite bench strength and resources. The media is painting them out to be spooked by Mitch. Ok the guy is bowling well but seriously do you think Smith, Amla and De Villers with the support cast would lay over and capitulate. Hopefully Steyn has recovered from the bug and is back to his destructive best, Morkel and Philander with Klienveldt would be the four pronged pace attack with Dean Elgar coming in for JP Duminy. Peterson deserves another chance in the light of the PE pitch which usually assists spinners

  • POSTED BY bottom_feeder on | February 19, 2014, 15:37 GMT

    Much talk has been made of Mitchell Johnson being the difference between the two sides. Less has been made of the fact that without AB's contributions, SA would have lost the last test in less than three days. South Africa are in serious trouble and they will need to prey for rain to prevent a 3-0 whitewash.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2014, 16:06 GMT

    I'd like to know how you counter 150km/h at your throat? SA just do not have the strength of character to deal with the all round Australian bowling. AB is all they have against this firing Oz unit. Steyn must come to the party for SA to have any chance. Philander is not capable of instilling fear in the OZ batsmen. Anyway we'll see but I predict it will be 2-0 after PE.

  • POSTED BY on | February 19, 2014, 16:07 GMT

    Media hype or no, SA are on the backfoot in the series. We all know SA do not start a series well but the nature of defeat this time does not bod well for the team. Even Graeme Smith tried to belittle MJ's performance in the 1st test by saying that he got pitch assistance and he gets tail ender wickets more. I do not remember him ever talking down a opposition bowler like this. I really think MJ's got into their heads and how they deal with his bowling will decide the fate of the series. AB alone cannot counter and score all the runs. He needs some much needed support.