South Africa v Australia, 3rd Test, Cape Town

8-0 to South Africa in the last ten Newlands Tests

Stats preview to the series decider in Cape Town, a venue at which South Africa haven't been beaten in their last ten Tests

S Rajesh

February 28, 2014

Comments: 5 | Text size: A | A

Vernon Philander completes his delivery as umpire Billy Bowden looks on, South Africa v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Centurion, 2nd day, February 23, 2013
Vernon Philander has been terrific at Newlands, taking 30 wickets in four Tests, including a match haul of 8 for 78 against Australia in 2011 © AFP
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Having won the second Test in Port Elizabeth - a venue which was one of their least favourite home grounds before that match - South Africa will be pleased that the decider will be played at Newlands, Cape Town. Since their readmission to international cricket, South Africa have an 18-3 win-loss record here, their second-best among all home venues during this period - in Centurion they've won 14 and lost 2.

The last time South Africa lost a Test match here was in 2006, and their opponents were Australia. The visitors won that Test, the first of the series, by seven wickets, and went on to win that series 3-0. That was Australia's third win in Cape Town in three Tests there since 1992, but after that they've lost twice in succession - a dead rubber in 2009, and a live one in 2011, when they were bowled out for 47 in their second innings. That means Australia's Cape Town record has reduced from 3-0 to 3-2, though they still remain the only side to defeat South Africa in a Test here since 1992.

Since the beginning of 2007, though, South Africa have been unbeaten here, winning eight out of ten Tests, and drawing two, against England in 2010 and India the next year. During this period they've beaten Australia and Pakistan twice each, and have won once each against West Indies, India, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

The batting and bowling numbers indicate just how dominant South Africa have been at Newlands - they've averaged more than 41 with the bat, and 27 with the ball. Their batsmen have also struck 35 centuries in 26 Tests, an average of 1.35 per Test. Australia's batting and bowling averages are far closer.

Team stats in Cape Town
  Tests Won Lost Bat ave Bowl ave 100s
South Africa, since 1992 26 18 3 41.55 27.20 35
Australia, since 1992 5 3 2 32.60 31.97 4
South Africa, since 2007 10 8 0 40.73 25.52 13

South Africa have won the toss in both Tests in the series so far: their decision to insert Australia backfired in Centurion, but the move to bat first worked well in Port Elizabeth. The pitch in Cape Town is expected to be dry, which suggests the captain winning the toss will choose to bat, but the past record here suggests batting first isn't profitable at Newlands. In the last ten Tests here, seven have been won by the team batting second, and only one by the team batting first. That happened when South Africa scored 580 for 4 declared against Sri Lanka in 2012, and then bowled Sri Lanka out for 239 and 342, eventually winning by ten wickets. In that match, though, Sri Lanka had won the toss and chosen to field, perhaps going by the past record at the ground.

Apart from that match, teams have generally struggled in the first innings of Tests there. India scored 414 in 2007 but still ended up losing, while, more recently, New Zealand were bundled out for 45 in 2013. The average runs per wicket in the first innings here is 31.09 since 2007, but excluding the match in which South Africa scored 580 for 4, it's only 26.03, which converts into an average first-innings score of 260.

All five Tests between South Africa and Australia here since 1992 have also been won by the team batting second. South Africa batted first in the first three Tests - in 1994, 2002 and 2006 - and lost each of them, while Australia batted first and were defeated in 2009 and 2011. However, given the conditions that are likely to prevail this time around, the captain winning the toss might still prefer to bat first.

Innings-wise runs per wicket in Cape Town since 2007
1st inngs 2nd inngs 3rd inngs 4th inngs
31.09 32.37 27.42 43.63

Graeme Smith has had a lean series so far, scoring 37 from four innings, but he returns to a venue where he scored an unbeaten 101 in a successful fourth-innings run-chase the last time the two teams played here, in 2011. That was his last significant Test innings here - he has scored 65 in four innings since then - but Cape Town's generally been a good venue for him: in 28 innings he has ten scores of 50 or more, and averages 52.11. AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla are the others who've played significant amounts of Tests here, and while both average in the early 40s, their recent form here is far more impressive: in his last four Tests at Newlands Amla has scored 3, 112, 16, 66, 25 and 58, while de Villiers has scored 160 not out, 67, 61 and 36 in his last four innings here.

Among the current members of the Australian squad, there are a couple who've scored centuries here: Michael Clarke scored an outstanding 151 in 2011, and averages 50 here, while Mitchell Johnson scored an unbeaten 123 in 2009, and averages 60.33 with the bat here.

South African batsmen in Cape Town
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Graeme Smith 16 1355 52.11 4/ 6
Hashim Amla 12 827 41.35 2/ 5
AB de Villiers 14 824 41.20 2/ 3
Alviro Petersen 4 277 46.16 2/ 0
Faf du Plessis 2 58 19.33 0/ 0
Dean Elgar 2 55 27.50 0/ 0
JP Duminy 2 43 14.33 0/ 0

Among the bowlers, Dale Steyn has been outstanding here (as he has been at most home venues), taking 57 wickets in 11 matches at an average of 21.14. In two Tests against Australia, he has been even more effective, taking 13 wickets at 17.69. Vernon Philander's stats are still better: in four Tests he has 30 wickets, including a match haul of 8 for 78 against Australia in 2011. In his most recent Test here, against Pakistan in February last year, Philander's match figures read 9 for 99, and he has never taken less than six wickets in a Test here.

Among the current bowlers in Australia's squad, Johnson is the only one to play more than one Test here, and his stats are fairly ordinary: five wickets at an average of 47, and an economy rate of 4.39. Shane Watson has played only one Test here, but was superb in South Africa's first innings in 2011, taking 5 for 17 to bundle them out for 96.

South African bowlers in Cape Town
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Dale Steyn 11 57 21.14 45.5 1/ 0
Vernon Philander 4 30 12.00 28.4 3/ 0
Morne Morkel 6 24 25.91 50.4 1/ 0
Robin Peterson 2 6 34.83 68.3 0/ 0

Overall, pace has been more effective than spin at Newlands, but that's especially true of South Africa's pace attack - opposition fast bowlers have averaged 43 runs per wicket, compared to 23.24 for South Africa's pace attack, which further emphasis the extent to which South Africa have dominated here.

Pace and spin in Newlands since 2007
  Wickets Average Strike rate
SA - pace 152 23.24 49.7
Other teams - pace 85 43.03 71.6
SA - spin 34 35.02 76.5
Other teams - spin 42 34.47 67.1

Australia, though, have a pretty potent attack themselves, and with the series at stake, there's plenty of motivation for both teams to be at their best. South Africa haven't won a home series against Australia since their readmission to international cricket, while Australia need to win or draw the series to move past India and become No. 2 in the ICC Test rankings.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

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Posted by Chris_P on (March 1, 2014, 18:28 GMT)

Already. even if they lose 7 wickets for 0, they are ahead of the first innings average, not a bad way to start.

Posted by   on (March 1, 2014, 13:39 GMT)

A great start from AUS, SA will fight back, bring on a great test,

Posted by spiritwithin on (March 1, 2014, 11:28 GMT)

i am amazed that no matter where and when but Aus are always having good records in most places,no wonder they are the most successful cricketing nation on earth by a long distance and undoubtedly produces the most amazing talent compared to other teams.

Posted by   on (March 1, 2014, 6:48 GMT)

a tantalizing test between two very proud sporting nations, will always be a feast for the fans

Posted by oscoli67 on (February 28, 2014, 22:44 GMT)

"The pitch in Cape Town is expected to be dry, which suggests the captain batting first will choose to bat," ........... I think you meant to say the captain winning the toss will choose to bat.
Ed. reply: Thanks for pointing this out. The error has been corrected.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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