South Africa v Australia, 3rd Test, Cape Town February 28, 2014

Watson, Petersen likely for tantalising decider

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Match facts

March 1-5, Cape Town
Start time 1030 local (0830GMT)

Big Picture

For all the close battles that Australia and South Africa have had over the past few years, only once since the mid-1990s have they entered the last Test of a series with the score even. That was in the last series in Australia in 2012-13, when the hosts felt they had the better of the first two draws only for South Africa to romp over the top of them in the decider in Perth. For the second successive series between these teams, it comes down to the third and final Test.

There could hardly be a more tantalising location for the decider. Not only does Newlands boast arguably the finest backdrop in world cricket, it was the scene of the most remarkable of all the recent Tests between these two sides. At this ground in November 2011, Shane Watson and Ryan Harris skittled South Africa for 96, which seemed a pretty darn good effort. Until Australia collapsed for 47. They were lucky even to get there, having been 21 for 9. For just the third time in Test history, part of all four innings of a Test occurred on one day. Not that the pitch was a minefield - Michael Clarke, Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla all scored hundreds in the same Test.

A dry surface is expected this time around and as in the first two Tests the team batting last may have a difficult task on their hands. South Africa's batsmen handled Mitchell Johnson with greater ease on the slower Port Elizabeth pitch than in Centurion and South Africa's ability to find reverse swing was also critical. If the hosts can carry their momentum into the Cape Town Test they could secure their first series win at home against Australia since their readmission.

Form guide

(last five completed games most recent first)
South Africa WLWDW
Australia LWWWW

In the spotlight

There are few sights more worrying to an Australian cricketer than an in-form Hashim Amla. At his best, as he was in the Perth win in 2012-13, he can manoeuvre almost any ball to any part of the field. And since the start of the 2011-12 series in South Africa, Amla has scored five Test centuries against Australia while averaging 61.15. A return to form for an unbeaten 127 in Port Elizabeth was the last thing Australia needed, and a significant boost to South Africa's hopes of winning the series.

Michael Clarke has played 11 innings since his last Test half-century. That is the longest such drought of his Test career and is all the more surprising given his dominance as a batsman since he took over the captaincy. Clarke has at times been too keen to get bat on ball during this series and he will hope that a good, long chat with Shane Warne has helped him reach the mental space required for this decider. At least he can think back to his century when Australia last played a Test here, even if it was overshadowed by their 47 all out in the second innings.

Team news

Alviro Petersen is expected to return after missing the Port Elizabeth Test due to a virus, which would mean Dean Elgar would likely shift down the order and Quinton de Kock would make way. A change to the attack is also required due to Wayne Parnell's groin strain and Rory Kleinveldt might be favoured over Kyle Abbott and Ryan McLaren. There is a good chance the spin duties will again be shared by the part-timers Elgar and JP Duminy.

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

After missing the first two Tests with a calf injury, Shane Watson is expected to return to Australia's line-up for the series decider, adding a valuable extra bowling option and slotting in at No. 6. Shaun Marsh will miss out with Alex Doolan staying in team - Inverarity confirmed as much at training on Friday*. There is a question mark over the attack after the fast men endured a heavy workload in Port Elizabeth. Ryan Harris in particular has struggled for impact and James Pattinson may be considered to add some freshness to the bowling group.

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

Pitch and conditions

A dry pitch is expected in Cape Town, where the weather has been very hot and windy in the lead-up to the Test. Groundsman Evan Flint has the challenge of ensuring there is enough moisture in the surface to prevent it from breaking up too early, but whatever the case, batting last will not be easy. There are some showers expected during the match, with the third day shaping as the most likely to be affected.

Stats and trivia

'

  • If South Africa win in Cape Town it will be their first series win at home against Australia since 1970 - they have lost four and drawn two since their readmission

  • Australia will finish the series second on the ICC's Test rankings if they win or draw in Cape Town, but third if they lose - South Africa cannot be budged from first

  • Australia have lost their past two Cape Town Tests but prior to that had an excellent record there, having won nine of the previous ten Tests they had played there

Quotes

"This would be an amazing achievement by this team to win this Test match, and as an individual player who has played a lot of cricket around the world if this doesn't excite you, you are in the wrong sport."
Michael Clarke

*1530GMT February 28: The preview was updated with the news of Shaun Marsh's exclusion

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • pat_one_back on March 1, 2014, 8:21 GMT

    Huge toss to win and now Aust need to make the most of it. Both tests so far have gone to the team batting first and with the Aussie openers in some nick Aust have a huge opportunity to bat themselves beyond defeat if they can see off the first few assaults. SA will no doubt fancy themselves at rolling Aust, it's 50/50 which sums up this series perfectly to date...

  • Unomaas on March 1, 2014, 8:13 GMT

    Very chuffed with myself that I actually got the prediction for the SAF team correct. Must be the first time in my life! Very inspired selection and batting order from SAF. Wonder how it will affect Amla? Can't remember the last time Hash didn't walk into the middle in the first 5 overs. In fact, Amla could be considered a de facto opener.

    Glad that Smith lost the toss! Was worried that if SAF batted first, it would be a one sided contest in favour of SAF. Now, its a toss up between the 2 with cricket the winner.

    Saffa

  • rambler960 on March 1, 2014, 7:18 GMT

    watson never makes any runs coming in cold after an injury ( which he has had way too many ).hope this match is different but i doubt it. reading previous comments hope the coin toss doesn't decide the match. time warner shut his mouth and just play cricket. aussies can't stand sore losers and warner is appearing as one

  • milepost on March 1, 2014, 7:16 GMT

    Australia will take this game and the series. The toss doesn't matter.

  • disco_bob on March 1, 2014, 7:14 GMT

    Wow, 17 in the SA squad, Australia got mocked mercilessly when we had a home squad of 17.

  • disco_bob on March 1, 2014, 7:05 GMT

    @TheBigBoodha, it's unseemly to focus on the pitch all the time. The whole point of playing away is to Test oneself in the most difficult conditions. It makes the win all the sweeter too. India prepared dustbowls for England but it back fired.

  • PrasPunter on March 1, 2014, 6:35 GMT

    @Int.Curator, I can say for sure, Clarke will never go for a draw. So there will definitely be a result.

  • on March 1, 2014, 6:26 GMT

    Quality of bowling in ODI match b/w SL & IND was so average when u compare it with aus vs sa

  • 1ofakind_testcricket on March 1, 2014, 6:04 GMT

    Any danger of 4 or 5 test series between these two nations in the near future?? Every battle is even and of epic proportions. Conditions in both countries are similar enough that both sides thrive and play the most fantastic cricket. For Australia and India four test series are unnecessary as both sides struggle and cannot perform to as high a standard in the others domain. The exception could perhaps be if they happen to be #1 and #2 in the world at the time, then play a 4 test series.

  • SamWintson92 on March 1, 2014, 5:49 GMT

    Continued c) 26 years Kyle Abbott has 9 wickets in 1 test at only 7. It's such a shame that after taking a 5 for & performing so well in his only test appearance, Abbott has been continuously overlooked for the past more than a year ! That's incredible ! d) I don't understand why SOU keeps selecting guys like A Peterson, R Peterson, Kleinvledt, Tsolekile who aren't international standard. SOU just should move on from them & concentrate on younger players who has decent stats i.e. Abbott, B Hendricks, Van Zyl, Harmer, De Kock, Vilas etc. e) De Villiers should move up to 4, putting Du Plessis at 5. FOR AUS: a) I want Shane Watson at 3. No argues here because I'm a Watson fan big time. He has got settled at 3 & scored well in the Ashes at 3 & I want him there. b) Doolan should bat at 6, S Smith at 5 & don't know when Clarke starts to bat at 4. c) Ryan Harris shouldn't be dropped unless there's any injury/workload concerns. If he's dropped then Pattinson is the candidate.

  • pat_one_back on March 1, 2014, 8:21 GMT

    Huge toss to win and now Aust need to make the most of it. Both tests so far have gone to the team batting first and with the Aussie openers in some nick Aust have a huge opportunity to bat themselves beyond defeat if they can see off the first few assaults. SA will no doubt fancy themselves at rolling Aust, it's 50/50 which sums up this series perfectly to date...

  • Unomaas on March 1, 2014, 8:13 GMT

    Very chuffed with myself that I actually got the prediction for the SAF team correct. Must be the first time in my life! Very inspired selection and batting order from SAF. Wonder how it will affect Amla? Can't remember the last time Hash didn't walk into the middle in the first 5 overs. In fact, Amla could be considered a de facto opener.

    Glad that Smith lost the toss! Was worried that if SAF batted first, it would be a one sided contest in favour of SAF. Now, its a toss up between the 2 with cricket the winner.

    Saffa

  • rambler960 on March 1, 2014, 7:18 GMT

    watson never makes any runs coming in cold after an injury ( which he has had way too many ).hope this match is different but i doubt it. reading previous comments hope the coin toss doesn't decide the match. time warner shut his mouth and just play cricket. aussies can't stand sore losers and warner is appearing as one

  • milepost on March 1, 2014, 7:16 GMT

    Australia will take this game and the series. The toss doesn't matter.

  • disco_bob on March 1, 2014, 7:14 GMT

    Wow, 17 in the SA squad, Australia got mocked mercilessly when we had a home squad of 17.

  • disco_bob on March 1, 2014, 7:05 GMT

    @TheBigBoodha, it's unseemly to focus on the pitch all the time. The whole point of playing away is to Test oneself in the most difficult conditions. It makes the win all the sweeter too. India prepared dustbowls for England but it back fired.

  • PrasPunter on March 1, 2014, 6:35 GMT

    @Int.Curator, I can say for sure, Clarke will never go for a draw. So there will definitely be a result.

  • on March 1, 2014, 6:26 GMT

    Quality of bowling in ODI match b/w SL & IND was so average when u compare it with aus vs sa

  • 1ofakind_testcricket on March 1, 2014, 6:04 GMT

    Any danger of 4 or 5 test series between these two nations in the near future?? Every battle is even and of epic proportions. Conditions in both countries are similar enough that both sides thrive and play the most fantastic cricket. For Australia and India four test series are unnecessary as both sides struggle and cannot perform to as high a standard in the others domain. The exception could perhaps be if they happen to be #1 and #2 in the world at the time, then play a 4 test series.

  • SamWintson92 on March 1, 2014, 5:49 GMT

    Continued c) 26 years Kyle Abbott has 9 wickets in 1 test at only 7. It's such a shame that after taking a 5 for & performing so well in his only test appearance, Abbott has been continuously overlooked for the past more than a year ! That's incredible ! d) I don't understand why SOU keeps selecting guys like A Peterson, R Peterson, Kleinvledt, Tsolekile who aren't international standard. SOU just should move on from them & concentrate on younger players who has decent stats i.e. Abbott, B Hendricks, Van Zyl, Harmer, De Kock, Vilas etc. e) De Villiers should move up to 4, putting Du Plessis at 5. FOR AUS: a) I want Shane Watson at 3. No argues here because I'm a Watson fan big time. He has got settled at 3 & scored well in the Ashes at 3 & I want him there. b) Doolan should bat at 6, S Smith at 5 & don't know when Clarke starts to bat at 4. c) Ryan Harris shouldn't be dropped unless there's any injury/workload concerns. If he's dropped then Pattinson is the candidate.

  • SamWintson92 on March 1, 2014, 5:38 GMT

    SOU XI: 1 Smith (C) 2 Elgar 3 Amla 4 De Villiers 5 Du Plessis 6 De Kock (WK) 7 Duminy 8 Philander 9 M Morkel 10 Steyn 11 Abbott. AUS XI: 1 Warner 2 Rogers 3 Watson 4 Clarke (C) 5 S Smith 6 Doolan 7 Haddin (WK) 8 Johnson 9 Siddle 10 Harris 11 Lyon. For SOU: a) Why does SOU need A Peterson ??? His recent form has been very poor & Dean Elgar has already played a crucial knock opening the innings which has lots to do with the win of SOU ? So, why Elgar will be dropped down the order ? It'll be such a setback ! b) De Kock shouldn't be dropped for A Peterson. De Kock didn't do that bad in the last test & he's the future of SOU. He's already flourishing in international cricket. He has the stats & if given a run in the test, he will definitely set the stage on fire. A Peterson's form has seen a dip & he doesn't much of years left in him, I'm afraid ! c) Rory Kleinveldt over Kyle Abbott ??? Please A BIG NO for that. 30 years old Kleinveldt has 10 wickets in 4 tests at 40+ !

  • Int.Curator on March 1, 2014, 4:58 GMT

    I will be most disappointed if either team at some stage opt for a drawn result.

    Play to win!

    Com'on Aussies

  • Lermy on March 1, 2014, 4:25 GMT

    SA will be desperate for a result. Time is running out for cricket in SA as large portions of the cricket playing population leaves. They can always play for NZ or England though.

  • TheBigBoodha on March 1, 2014, 4:18 GMT

    For a man who doesn't like to take risks Smith is hedging his bets on the toss of a coin. If the "expected dry pitch" emerges (purely a coincidence of course, just like the PE track) then the coin toss will pretty much decide the game. I don't find this to be an attractive way to determine the outcome of two test matches in succession.

  • Redbackfan on March 1, 2014, 2:01 GMT

    Still no mention of Hughes. Why take him over there if he is going to be a bench warmer? Send him to play shield and stay in form if you are to stubborn to pick him .

  • Chris_Howard on March 1, 2014, 1:55 GMT

    Ability says RSA by a street. But Mitch is always the X-factor who can turn that on its head.

    In the end, it will come down to RSA's batting and whether they can negotiate Mitch again and a fresh Faulkner.

    That said... Team batting first has won both Tests. So toss will be crucial, especially to Australia. If Aussies can't bat first, they'll be right up against it.

  • on March 1, 2014, 1:11 GMT

    Marsh should be in

  • Albert_cambell on March 1, 2014, 1:05 GMT

    Kleinveldt is a good inclusion. Much better than Parnell. We will be looking wrap up the series.

  • Batmanian on March 1, 2014, 1:00 GMT

    Either team winning 2-1 in this pressure cooker will feel glad, but how robbed will we be if it's a draw? Not that draws are necessarily anti-climactic, but rather, these two teams should be playing five Tests, or at least three in each country back-to-back.

  • SLSup on February 28, 2014, 23:57 GMT

    The Cap for this article includes Tantalizing as the operative word. Hmmmm... that we can reserve for end of day two to determine. To depend on past performances to predict the future is not always a sound policy. No one expected Border to take 11 wickets in Sydney to beat back West Indies during Australia's resurgence in the 80's. I'll check back in on 3rd day morning.

  • SHER-A-PANJAB on February 28, 2014, 23:25 GMT

    If SA goes with this 11 ,they have to face defeat because Morkell and Rory is completely failed bowlers . Poor Smith must call Hendricks and Kyle Abbott . I think D. Kock should have been given more chances . Alviro can not play good against oz.......Aus is more comfortable vs SA here....let's see a good match......good luck !

  • Shongololo on February 28, 2014, 22:53 GMT

    @ James_Murphy...you clearly know absolutely nothing about South African cricket wickets as St George's Park has always been like that. To suggest it's doctoring is not only incorrect but shows you have as much grace as David Warner.

  • legfinedeep on February 28, 2014, 21:50 GMT

    If Kleinveldt and Petersen play ahead of Abbott and QDK, then an Aussie win is much more likely. I would beg the selectors to choose the sides on merit on not on the basis of the open-secret quota system they seem to have going.

  • legfinedeep on February 28, 2014, 21:45 GMT

    So Alviro is going to make his way back into the side with his astronomical average of 37 as an opening batsman. What a shame for QDK.

  • on February 28, 2014, 21:17 GMT

    don't drop kock. give him a regular place in ur eleven.

  • Beertjie on February 28, 2014, 20:57 GMT

    Agree @Ozcricketwriter on (February 28, 2014, 11:55 GMT) concerning the left-field choice of Pattinson and Bird. Sidds and Rhino are worn out and it would be a masterstroke to being in the fresh legs of the other two. Sure they could leak runs, but Watto will likely peg that back. Also with the Proteas not having seen much of these two,an x-factor. Patto, Watto and Mitch will give decent reverse swing later in the game. The key is to win the toss and avoid loss of early wickets. Pup needs a big score and if he scores big, Aus. will get the big first innings total Boof is always looking for. But expect Amla and ABdV to score big as well. That is where support later in the test through the better spinning option of Lyon may provide Aus. with an edge. But fail to score big in the first innings and prepare to lose.

  • Shaggy076 on February 28, 2014, 20:54 GMT

    Sasupporter ; It's funny completely the opposite in the first test. Have you thought that maybe theising side never look happy or confident. Or maybe its just a coincidence South Africa looked like that in the first teat and Australia in the second.

  • Greatest_Game on February 28, 2014, 20:01 GMT

    @ AussieKev corrected me, writing "@Greatest_Game, you said ' Johnson's match figures were 1 for 86 - ave 43!' Looks like an average of 86 to me!"

    Dead right, & well spotted Kev. My apologies to all. I do try as hard as possible to post accurate stats. Because the figs were over 2 inns for some reason I divided the runs by 2, even tho he only took the 1 wicket.

    cricinfo posts are about the only thing that makes chemo sessions bearable. Given the circumstances, I usually double & triple check. Sorry about that. Poor excuse, I should have been more careful.

  • Greatest_Game on February 28, 2014, 19:54 GMT

    @ PrasPunter, rallying the troops: "Guys !! forget about Cape Town 2011, or PE 2014 . This is a new game … Wish Mitch to be back at his best !! Go Aus !!"

    Pras - don't forget Newlands 2008/09. Test 1916. SA won by an innings! Johnson, on his GOOD SA tour, took a magnificent 4/148, a bit better than the legendary Bryce McGain's 0/149. Katich - the guy Clarke hounded out - took 2 for 9 in 3 overs, & scored 54 and 55, tho dropped for 1 - off Steyn.

    Johnson saved Aus from a humiliating defeat by scoring 123* & 35. Hot with the bat, NOT with the ball. Prince, Kallis & de Villiers scored centuries in SA's only inngs.

    Clarke, bowled by Steyn for 0 in Aus' 1st inngs, lasted 3 balls after Steyn bowled Hussey, & was bowled by Steyn AGAIN in the 2nd dig - this time for 47, taking a massive 7 runs in 19 balls off Steyn, who also took Hussey twice, Punter, Johnson & McGain.

    Paul Harris took 9/161 & MoM. Yeah! Newlands = spin. But not for Bryce - though ironically Harris dismissed Bryce ...

  • AussieKev on February 28, 2014, 19:32 GMT

    @Greatest_Game, you said ' Johnson's match figures were 1 for 86 - ave 43!' Looks like an average of 86 to me!

  • Kareem2202 on February 28, 2014, 19:09 GMT

    Bloody hell... Dropping Quinton de Kock after just one match? Is it not time for a change from Alviro Petersen? I guess the selectors are nervous going into a massive match like this, so don't want to take risks. But even still, in the long run, Petersen will need to be dropped, so why delay? Get Quinny more experience, and also allow Elgar to keep on opening, seeing as he has performed well there.

  • Thefakebook on February 28, 2014, 18:59 GMT

    I think Oz will win the series

  • AKDARE on February 28, 2014, 18:55 GMT

    Eagerly waiting for Wonderful Test match. Steyn Gun has to fire again. ADB both the teams, both are my fav.

  • Greatest_Game on February 28, 2014, 18:43 GMT

    @electric_loco_WAP4 thinking he is gloating informs us he is "Looking to Mitch special-throat balls,wicked o/swingers,nasty nip backers-and all @ 150-155 ks! And a few splattered stumps as well !"

    You are about to be severely disappointed Loco. Newlands is not a hard, bouncy pitch. Johnson, in 2 matches & 3 innings at Newlands has bowled 53.3 overs, taking 5 wickets at Ave 47, Econ 4.39, SR 64.2.

    Johnson bowled so well in 2008/09, his big SA series, that Australia lost by an innings & 20 runs at Newlands. Prince scored 150, Kallis 102, & AB de Villiers 163. In Johnson's GOOD test, he took 4 for 148, ave 37.

    In his BAD test at Newlands, in which Philander took 5/15, Watson 5/17, Morkel 3 for 9, Harris 4 for 33, that terror, that big bad Johnson took 0/25 (econ 5.2) in SA's batting collapse, & 1/61 in the innings that won SA the match. Johnson's match figures were 1 for 86 - ave 43!

    Simply put, even at his best, he has been pretty bad at Newlands. Don't expect miracles.

  • InfiniteWhite on February 28, 2014, 18:29 GMT

    Five tests between SA and Australia would be a treat for cricket fans around the world but with the rate of injuries and illnessess of SA players I wouldn't be surprised if it would be Australia vs South Africans in the 5th test.

  • InfiniteWhite on February 28, 2014, 18:19 GMT

    In the first test, the match was decided by a rampant Johnson on a pitch that assisted him. In the second, the match was decided by SA bowlers's skills using a ball that slammed a concrete slab off Warner's bat. I wonder what freakish factor will decide the outcome of the match in Cape Town. Can't wait!

  • on February 28, 2014, 17:59 GMT

    great test of skill and pace it will be?

  • DylanBrah on February 28, 2014, 17:47 GMT

    The decider already? It feels like we are just warming up! This should be a 5 match series... it is the no.1 and 2 Test teams!

  • nainil0683 on February 28, 2014, 17:47 GMT

    A beautiful stadium and a very well poised series. Will be fun to watch who emerges as winners. I feel Michael Clarke is up for a big one. Watch out for him.

  • ScottStevo on February 28, 2014, 17:00 GMT

    @SASupporter, roll back an hour beforehand and look at the panic in SAs eyes when Aus were cruising at 110/0. Watch the way that Donald was constantly following his bowlers around the fence chuntering away. Steely resolve you say, I say complete panic. Fortunately for them, Aus have been on the verge of a batting collapse for some time... Also, you may wish to watch the first test again where SA looked shell shocked and genuinely scared to face Johnson. It's no wonder a coach is sighing when watching an utterly disgraceful innings like the one we produced in that 4th innings...

  • Greatest_Game on February 28, 2014, 16:55 GMT

    @ SASupporter "When the camera panned over the SA team, in the 4th innings during the Centurion innings, there was a different facial expression compared to the OZ team, during the 4th innings in PE. …"

    What a co-incidence. We watched the same TV broadcasts, and I saw exactly what you saw. The last hour of PE the Aus balcony was a sea of disbelief.

  • disco_bob on February 28, 2014, 16:32 GMT

    not to forget Haddin of course

  • disco_bob on February 28, 2014, 16:32 GMT

    Some touch selection dilemmas for both teams, looks like each side is worried about their own best 11. While one would like to see Doolan retained at no. 3 to show some consistency and give him another shot to back up his decent showing at Centurion, I have a very strong feeling that Hughes could be a surprise choice at first drop. Not for the long term because he will come in for Rogers eventually, but he was playing better than Marsh or Doolan in the nets and this is a very special game. Rogers, Warner, Hughes, Clarke Smith Watson, Pattinson, MJ, Siddle, Lyon

  • Protears on February 28, 2014, 16:01 GMT

    Newlands will be like Newlands has been for sometime, lateral movement early but spongy bounce, you don't dig it in at Newlands. Batting first and batting big is the general key to success at Newlands as 2-3 is when the bulk of runs are scored, late 4 and 5 you don't want to be batting.

  • ASK3 on February 28, 2014, 14:08 GMT

    @James_Murphy, really? Admittedly the pitch was very slow compared to the first test but that's how PE plays, perhaps you should also credit how Mitchell Johnson was blunted (to an extent) by SA batsmen who were willing to carry a few blows to their bodies and keep their wicket (Elgar special mention). And oh, if Steyn is pumped up, it's gonna be a big worry for your batsmen.

  • Tumbarumbar on February 28, 2014, 13:29 GMT

    Whoever told Mitch to 'Pitch it up' in the last test should stick their head in a bucket. The other steamers can pitch it up but Mitch needs to follow that old West Indian adage, 'if you want to drive go rent a car'. As far as bowling changes go Bird should come in for Siddle. Siddle was bowling in the mid 120s for large periods of time in PE, at least Bird bowls from a Morkel height and moves the ball. As for the batting, if Marsh plays he'll be out for less than 5 in both innings, Haddin will fail in both innings, Clarke will score a good looking 30 and Wattos will fail in the first innings.

  • TheCricketEmpireStrikesBack on February 28, 2014, 13:16 GMT

    This test match is probably the most pivotal and, in prospect, interesting for some years. Just so many unanswered questions and it all comes down to the next 5 days. Changes to both teams just add to the interest with crucial selection decisions to be made by both sides.

    Agree with @2MikeGattings (both of them). It's time for CA and CSA to wake up to what is pure cricketing gold and make future SA-Aus series 5 matches.

  • SASupporter on February 28, 2014, 13:11 GMT

    When the camera panned over the SA team, in the 4th innings during the Centurion innings, there was a different facial expression compared to the OZ team, during the 4th innings in PE. In the SA camp, there was a steely resolve on the faces. The Australian faces had disbelief, Coach Lehman was blowing big sighs, and the fear that Warner talked about Trott, that appear over their faces after the 4th wicket fell. If you have that somewhere on a recording, go and check Lehmann's facial expressions and sighs, Smiths utter disbelief, and the overall fear on their faces.

  • on February 28, 2014, 13:06 GMT

    two great teams and the test series going down to the last test for deciding the winner... amazing feeling wish I cud have seen the match from the stadium

  • SurlyCynic on February 28, 2014, 12:35 GMT

    @James_Murphy: You say it's 'sad' that the last game was on a slow deck and state that it was 'doctored'. Remember the first two tests when SA toured Aus in 2012 and the decks were very slow and both tests were drawn? We were told that pitches in Aus 'vary in nature' and that it wasn't a ploy to combat the SA attack.

    So perhaps you should bear in mind that PE is always low and slow. If SA were really good at doctoring pitches why did they prepare one with vicious and variable bounce for the first test - the worst possible pitch to face Johnson on?

    Why not focus on this great contest we're all looking forward to instead of making absurd accusations like your opener is prone to.

  • 2MikeGattings on February 28, 2014, 12:27 GMT

    A match up this good deserves a 5 test series.

  • James_Murphy on February 28, 2014, 12:01 GMT

    I'm predicting huge games from Haddin, Clarke, Warner, Smith and Harris. In a big game your big guns will come to the fore. Harris will give it all and be sent for surgery. Watson helps immensely. If he gets any movement expect him to worry Elgar, Duminy and De villiers with his line. Mitch will take care of the rest. All the talk was about Mitch after the last game and now it's all about how Steyn is unplayable. SHORT MEMORIES. If the pitch has any pace in it smith, Petersen, Du Plessis and Amla have already shown weakness against raw aggressive pace. If we get another doctored India-like pitch then we may get another similar result to the last test. Sad for test cricket to be played between the top 2 sides on slow decks.

  • Ozcricketwriter on February 28, 2014, 11:55 GMT

    I think if they are deciding between Marsh and Doolan then they should go with Doolan - who is newer, has looked a lot better, and hasn't been anywhere near as bad when he was bad. But it may be worth going with a hunch and picking Hughes - who, while he is a walking wicket against England, New Zealand and India, is yet to be exposed by South Africa and it is possible that they do not know how to expose his technique - Hughes did do very well last time he was in South Africa. I would be very nervous about having Watson bat any lower than 4, as his record lower down the order is pretty bad. I think Watson should bat 3 or 4. We don't have a number 3 at the moment so why not Watson? As for the bowlers, Siddle and Harris have struggled for impact for a while now so I think it is time to replace both with two bowlers with quite amazing records - Pattinson and Bird. If you want reverse swing, you want Bird. Pattinson, Bird and Johnson would be a scary attack.

  • Unomaas on February 28, 2014, 11:47 GMT

    Peterson or Elgar to open the innings?

    Totally agree with Petesta on (February 28, 2014, 10:11 GMT) comment. Credit has to be given to Elgar for his performance. It was he that blunted the MJ hype simply by wearing a few. I'm sure there are alot of aussies out there quite impressed with him...especially considering that Elgar got a pair on debut against Aus.

    My emotion says play Elgar...but I also have got to give credit to the Saffa team plan. Saf management is not prone to knee jerk reactions, they back players to the hilt through good and bad. Its a very conservative approach but its an approach that's led them to the top of the rankings. In Peterson's defense, he plays better under pressure and he will definitely be playing for his place.

    As a compromise, why don't we play Elgar at 3 and shift everyone 1 down? We could also have Elgar float in the batting order...if one of the openers depart in first 5 overs, send in Elgar or send Elgar in to combat 2nd new ball.

  • Vaughanographic on February 28, 2014, 11:32 GMT

    How can Elgar drop down the order after his EXCELLENCE in facing Michell Johnson. He was the first guy to willingly take blows in order to keep his wicket intact. He must stay up front. If Peterson comes back in the team it must be to number 6 as clearly Elgar has deserved to open. I would of course rather have Stiaan van Zyl than Peterson at 6 but that is another story. Abbott vs Kleinveldt.. Abbot has form, can restrict runs, and swings the ball like a boomerang. Its a no brainer really.

  • Parisbok on February 28, 2014, 11:29 GMT

    To my fellow South Africas boasting about who will be ddoing what to who and how we will do this or that and win easily; you embarrass me. This is nonsense, we are all spectators and supporters, we are not playing in this test match, we don't know what will happen and as we have seen, anything is possible. You have to have a very short memory if you don't remember Centurion and if you think it can't happen again.

    As for Kleinveldt vs Abbott, it is sure that Abbott is the better and more penetrating bowler who is more likely to take wickets, but as we know there are quota requirements and therefore it is likely that Kleinveldt will be selected. Nothing we can do about it.

  • Balisaf on February 28, 2014, 11:16 GMT

    After a week of much talk, posturing and speculation, the only thing that history will judge begins on the field tomorrow. Though South Africa looks stronger on paper, reputations don't win games, performance does. Both sides have demonstrated in this series that on a given day they have the beating of the other. A tantalizing spectacle of cricket awaits. Gentlemen, let the best man win!

  • JimmySA on February 28, 2014, 10:59 GMT

    There hasn't really been one prediction about who will win the final one so far. Expecting an exciting and close contest. As a saffer I just hope Mitch has shaved!

  • Unomaas on February 28, 2014, 10:47 GMT

    Abbot vs Kleinveldt?

    In Kleinveldt's defense:

    1) Newlands is Kleinveldt's home ground. He knows how to bowl on that wicket. 2) Kleinveldt is an enforcer like Morne Morkel. He bangs the ball into the deck, can bowl aggressive and hurt batsmen. Perfect compliment to Steyn + Vern. 3) According to reports, Kleinveldt was 1 of the most impressive bowlers in the warm up match leading into the test match series.

    In Abbott's defense:

    1) Most impressive bowler across all domestic formats for the current season. 2) Has lost his nice guy attitude and gotten meaner. His bouncer is much more impressive. 3) Genuinely swings the ball through the air and gets assistance off the pitch.4) Has got a reputation which precedes him.

    There is little to choose between the 2 but if I had to choose, I would go for Abbott. He is hungry for success, will be more than happy to do the donkey work and is an unknown quantity. People talk about x-factor winning matches. Abbot definitely has x-factor

  • BellCurve on February 28, 2014, 10:29 GMT

    Surely Abbott was not drafted into the squad to sit on the bench? I would be very surprised if he is not in the starting line-up. That means (given my perception of the demographic representation requirements) the selectors will have to bring back Alviro. The team is therefore likely to be: 1 Smith 2 Alviro 3 Amla 4 Faf 5 AB 6 Elgar 7 JP 8 Vern 9 Abbott 10 Sten 11 Morkel. That is a rock solid line-up. If Mitch doesn't fire Australia has absolutely no chance.

  • heathrf1974 on February 28, 2014, 10:24 GMT

    I hope SA pick Kleinvelt as I believe he is not up to test standard. I think the toss will be crucial for this match and it goes Clarke's way.

  • TheRealPunter on February 28, 2014, 10:22 GMT

    bring it on..most anticipated test match in years. Hope saffers are complacent and mitch and co catch them by surprise...hoping for a quicker wicket than PE then we are in for a classic...toss will be hugely important anc cnt see clarke losing 3 tosses in a row!

  • Andre117 on February 28, 2014, 10:17 GMT

    Other than being the best fast bowler on the domestic circuit, Abbott is unlucky not to have had another game after taking 9 wickets on debut. I'm as baffled as everyone else why Kleinveldt is ahead of him in the Q.

    Personally I would go past Kleinveldt and Abbott and pick Dane Piedt on his home ground. Steyn, Morkel and Philander have shown that they can bowl the Aussies out without help but we need a frontline spinner and Dane is a genuine strike bowler.

  • joeyinoz on February 28, 2014, 10:16 GMT

    Talk about not taking your chances. After Centurion, it seemed that both Marsh and Doolan were making it very hard for Watson to force his way back in. Now, one test later, the only decision is which one to drop. Watson certainly couldn't do any worse than either of them, and he provides a valuable bowling option. As for which one to drop, looking solely at PE, you could say that Marsh got a couple of good ones early in each innings - very unlucky. But Doolan's painful, Damien Martynesque (SCG 93/94) 5 off 43 was a rabbit-in-the-spotlight, momentum swinging career killer.

  • Petesta on February 28, 2014, 10:11 GMT

    A lot of people are commenting on the Kleinveld/Abbott choice and I agree with them that Abbott would be a better choice.

    HOWEVER, I'm more concerned about the possible changes to the batting lineup. Elgar is a much better pick at opener than Petersen! Admittedly the pitch was quicker in Centurion, but Dean seemed prepared to drop the gloves and wear a few while Alviro was totally out of his depth against MJ. So Dean to open and Alviro or De Kock to bat down the order. I would pick De Kock, but not to fazed about that choice. But Dean must open... surely! Alviro has proven he's unreliable as an opener... he needs to make some runs down the order or be dropped once and for all.

  • AB_DeVilliers on February 28, 2014, 10:08 GMT

    I wonder how Warner feels reading that. First SA against him, now his entire team turns against him. Talk about an isolated soul in the dresser. Would be great to see him fail in both innings, just like Perth 2012 when he couldn't take the heat in the final test.

  • xtrafalgarx on February 28, 2014, 10:03 GMT

    Please Doolan at no.3. I'm not saying he will succeed this game, but he is a good bet long term at no.3, i think he will deliver as time goes on. Marsh has shown he is hit and miss and you can't have that at no.3

  • Unomaas on February 28, 2014, 9:58 GMT

    For those worrying about the weather, there will be a short shower on Saturday and then an afternoon shower on Sunday. The interruptions will be be brief and the time will be be made up on subsequent days so no worries that we will lose any playing time. Whats more exciting is that there will be overcast conditions on Saturday and Sunday...perfect for swing bowling.

    Taking weather conditions into consideration, the toss becomes irrelevant. Most people will tell you bat first at Newlands but this game is not going to see the 5th day for a spinner to become effective. I hope Aus play Harris because he could potentially win this match for them. If Vernon gets movement and Wickets, I expect Watson to also be effective.

    Very excited to see Haddin vs. Steyn. He's either gonna get his middle stump removed again via reverse swing or his off stump removed via conventional swing...you know...that classic Dale Steyn delivery that pitches leg, swings late and hits off...TIMBBBERRRRR!

  • Gurudumu on February 28, 2014, 9:54 GMT

    Should Kleinveldt be selected over Abbott, Aus will almost certainly win. Lets see how hungry the Proteas are for a win. My guess is that politics will win edge out reality.

  • whofriggincares on February 28, 2014, 9:53 GMT

    @clem human, I guess we are not the only one's with short memorys go back and read the forums before this series started, lots and lots of Saffer (English and Indian as well for that matter) fans predicting a very one sided series in favor of South Africa. Fact is we have had one very convincing win for both sides. And as the above article states the 2 most recent series between these teams have gone into the final match with the series alive. I guess that suggests we are not far off the pace of the number 1 side in the world. Perhaps we can provide a contest similar to the first test in this series and if that happens I expect you will be very disappointed indeed! Ryan Harris is the key factor for me in this match ,he has been well below his best so far and if he fires a series win beckons.

  • KeithMillersHair on February 28, 2014, 9:50 GMT

    I think Australia missed a trick in the last match by not playing Jackson Bird. Pattinson is clearly ahead of him in the pecking order, and I can't see Siddle or Harris being omitted for anything other than injury/niggles - but I think Bird would have offered something really valuable on the PE wicket. We're always bashing the selectors for the 'rotation' policy - and I wouldn't want to go back to that, but now that we have broken our winning run, it would be good to see a bit of flexibility in the attack. Of course, not having Watson or Faulkner available makes it hard to play around too much.

  • KeithMillersHair on February 28, 2014, 9:45 GMT

    Amazing contest - back to back hidings from each side, and now for the decider. Both Australia and South Africa with huge strengths as well as clear vulnerabilities and a few key selection questions to answer. Both sides with a huge amount to prove. Momentum definitely with the Saffers, and you'd have to put your money on them, but every match between these two teams always seems to throw up surprises.

  • gimme-a-greentop on February 28, 2014, 9:44 GMT

    @disco_bob - well said regarding the game, although you are usually keen for a prediction or two :) Tough to tell what is going to happen, there will almost certainly be twists and turns to keep everyone guessing. I just hope people wait until the end before commenting this time. At least we can start talking about actual cricket again, not all the sad debate surrounding the between match period. I am praying the selectors pick Abbott, but I know they most probably wont. Let's just hope for a good game of cricket and enjoy it people, regardless of the outcome.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on February 28, 2014, 9:39 GMT

    Looking to Mitch special-throat balls,wicked o/swingers,nasty nip backers-and all @ 150-155 ks! And a few splattered stumps as well !

  • JohnMR on February 28, 2014, 9:28 GMT

    Please CSA pick Abbot over Kleinvelt.

    Abbott for the past 2 seasons has been SAs best bowler across all formats. I don't think Ive heard of one good performance by Rory. And Rory is a liability in the field. I think he is a good team man but we need to be ruthless here.

  • SurlyCynic on February 28, 2014, 9:21 GMT

    Looking forward to this test, I'm sure fans of both sides have concerns as both have been blown away but that's how it should be, tough to predict. Would prefer more tests but at least we have a decider this time.

    The fact that Kleinveldt is 'likely' to play is baffling. On what grounds is this selection made? He has looked mediocre or bad in every test and has a FC avg of nearly 30, while Abbott has a FC avg of 21, is in great domestic form and took 9-fer against Pakistan in his only test! Why is Kleinveldt even considered?!?

  • disco_bob on February 28, 2014, 9:19 GMT

    @Clem Human, the ability of you guys to blot out past games like what happened last week at Centurion, never fails to impress.

  • Marktc on February 28, 2014, 9:16 GMT

    I still cannot understand why in the world SA would favour Rory over Kyle. Abbott is what SA need, fast and young and in form....Klienveldt really has never sett he world on fire and would be a nice run give to the Oz team.

  • P0isonal on February 28, 2014, 9:15 GMT

    This probable squad seems that Australia is on upper hand!! Plz give chance to kyle abott instead of rory!!

  • on February 28, 2014, 9:15 GMT

    would love too see steyn's outswing at 145kph

  • disco_bob on February 28, 2014, 9:14 GMT

    There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that during this Test some strange occurrences will unfold such that it will not be obvious who is on top day by day. This is probably more that the jangled nerves of the passionate supporters will be able to bear, such is the rivalry of these two proud teams. I'm not going to pick a winner.

  • on February 28, 2014, 9:11 GMT

    I hope the bats don't let us down again

  • on February 28, 2014, 9:03 GMT

    If any test match didn't excite you, then you should probably not be there

  • PrasPunter on February 28, 2014, 8:54 GMT

    Guys !! forget about Cape Town 2011, or PE 2014 . This is a new game !! Starts all over again !! Go for it !! Wish Mitch to be back at his best !! Go Aus !!

  • on February 28, 2014, 8:49 GMT

    come on Aussie fans! I am waiting to read all those potential "foot in the mouth" chirps before the game begins. I reckon the memory span of all these folks is extremely short or they could become embarrassed! Can't wait for tomorrow, lets hope the moustachioed Johnson gets a pitch that will allow him to be more in the game, I would like a better contest from the Aussies but I expect to be disappointed.

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  • on February 28, 2014, 8:49 GMT

    come on Aussie fans! I am waiting to read all those potential "foot in the mouth" chirps before the game begins. I reckon the memory span of all these folks is extremely short or they could become embarrassed! Can't wait for tomorrow, lets hope the moustachioed Johnson gets a pitch that will allow him to be more in the game, I would like a better contest from the Aussies but I expect to be disappointed.

  • PrasPunter on February 28, 2014, 8:54 GMT

    Guys !! forget about Cape Town 2011, or PE 2014 . This is a new game !! Starts all over again !! Go for it !! Wish Mitch to be back at his best !! Go Aus !!

  • on February 28, 2014, 9:03 GMT

    If any test match didn't excite you, then you should probably not be there

  • on February 28, 2014, 9:11 GMT

    I hope the bats don't let us down again

  • disco_bob on February 28, 2014, 9:14 GMT

    There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that during this Test some strange occurrences will unfold such that it will not be obvious who is on top day by day. This is probably more that the jangled nerves of the passionate supporters will be able to bear, such is the rivalry of these two proud teams. I'm not going to pick a winner.

  • on February 28, 2014, 9:15 GMT

    would love too see steyn's outswing at 145kph

  • P0isonal on February 28, 2014, 9:15 GMT

    This probable squad seems that Australia is on upper hand!! Plz give chance to kyle abott instead of rory!!

  • Marktc on February 28, 2014, 9:16 GMT

    I still cannot understand why in the world SA would favour Rory over Kyle. Abbott is what SA need, fast and young and in form....Klienveldt really has never sett he world on fire and would be a nice run give to the Oz team.

  • disco_bob on February 28, 2014, 9:19 GMT

    @Clem Human, the ability of you guys to blot out past games like what happened last week at Centurion, never fails to impress.

  • SurlyCynic on February 28, 2014, 9:21 GMT

    Looking forward to this test, I'm sure fans of both sides have concerns as both have been blown away but that's how it should be, tough to predict. Would prefer more tests but at least we have a decider this time.

    The fact that Kleinveldt is 'likely' to play is baffling. On what grounds is this selection made? He has looked mediocre or bad in every test and has a FC avg of nearly 30, while Abbott has a FC avg of 21, is in great domestic form and took 9-fer against Pakistan in his only test! Why is Kleinveldt even considered?!?