Preview: 1st Test – Australia v South Africa
Australia’s summer of test cricket starts today with the first test between Australia and South Africa getting underway in Perth.
The Aussies will be looking to improve on their recent form, which has seen them fall to a 5-0 defeat in the recent one-day series against the Proteas, and the demoralising 3-0 test series loss against Sri Lanka in August.
However as we all know playing away from home is not the forte of the Australians, home soil is where they excel.
The South Africans though pose a significant challenge to the Aussies and the Proteas fifth place test ranking doesn’t indicate their potential and destruction they can cause on Australia in Perth.
Australian chairman of selectors Rod Marsh has brought the consistent Peter Siddle back into the squad and the Victorian will start the first test ahead of squad bolter Joe Mennie.
Usman Khawaja also returns to the side after an indifferent Sri Lankan series which saw him get dropped for the final test.
Khawaja is one of many Australian batsmen under pressure to perform with the likes of Joe Burns waiting for his opportunity to wear the Baggy Green again.
Mitch Marsh also has to perform this series. It’s widely accepted that he’s not the best number six in the country and Rod Marsh has said he needs a big score this series to keep his place in the team.
The South Africans come to Australia full of confidence after dominating the recent one-day series and easily accounting for New Zealand in the two-test series in August.
Fast bowler Dale Steyn has been quick in saying he’ll target the Aussies key batsmen in Smith and Warner. The fiery quick has plenty of talent to back him up with Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada all ready to charge in on the WACA pitch.
South Africa’s batsmen will have their hands full with Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and co., however they have class to deal with whatever the Aussies throw at them.
Captain Faf Du Plessis and Hashim Amla will lead by example in the absence of AB de Villiers, and the batting list is long with JP Duminy who’s enjoyed previous success in Australia, and youngster Quinten de Kock who had a huge one-day series last month.
Cricket fans will be hoping the WACA’s curators have prepared a green-top after last year’s Perth test finished in a boring draw. David Warner and Ross Taylor both hit double centuries and four other batsmen got hundreds in the run-a-thon.
1st Test – November 7-11, WACA Ground, Perth
Australia – Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Usman Khawaja, Adam Voges, Mitch Marsh, Peter Nevill, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood. Joe Mennie (12th man)
South Africa (likely) – Faf Du Plessis (c), Stephen Cook, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Quinton de Kock, Temba Bavuma, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander
2nd Test – November 12-16, Bellerive Oval, Hobart
3rd Test – November 24-28, Adelaide Oval (D/N)