Yah, those Seff Efricans look awfully hawd to beat
The Cup’s done with for another year, we repelled the overseas horses with one of our own, or at least a horse bred overseas which has lived here for a while, and now it’s time to see if we can do something similar in the cricket.
Unfortunately we’re playing a world class South African team in the first Test starting at the Gabba this Friday. That’s the South African team from South Africa by the way, not the one that plays for England.
South Africa is the bookies’ favourite to win the first Test. That might seem incongruous given Australia is unbeaten at the Gabba in 24 years, and that no member of the South African touring party has ever played a Test at the ground. But the odds make sense when you look at the Test line-ups.
On paper, South Africa look about twice as strong as us. There have been times in the past when they’ve looked at least as good, if not better, but choked. Not this time. South Africa look so strong, the only thing you can see them choking on is their own laughter, as yet another Australian batsman trudges off the field with not many runs beside his name.
This is not to bag Michael Clarke or his team, who last summer made a much quicker return to respectability in the Test arena than anyone expected, even if India were as off as last week’s prawn vindaloo.
But any way you look at it, our line-up suffers in comparison to the Saffers. The South African middle order is comprised of the sort of batsmen who make you want to put a slow cook roast in the oven, safe in the knowledge you can sit down and eat it while they’re still batting. By contrast, our lot make you want to invest in a microwave cookery book.
Apart from Michael Clarke himself, no one in the Australian team can match the likes of the ageless Jacques Kallis, the silky but reliable AB de Villers or that bearded one-man run factory Hashim Amla, who put together a triple century against England recently.
Hussey and Ponting are legends. But they’re unreliable now, as are our top order bats Cowan, Warner and the solid but untried Rob Quiney.
South Africa look stronger than us with ball in hand too, led by the ever-menacing Steyn, who wears the evil, sadistic smile you see in all the pace greats. Our lot, by contrast, are workmanlike but not as dangerous. Peter Siddle is all heart and keeps improving, Ben Hilfenhaus has guile, James Pattinson shows enormous potential and Nathan Lyon is… um… well at least he’s not Michael Beer.
But you just sense Steyn and Morkel and friends will pose more threat to our batsmen than our bowlers do to theirs.
We’re actually a little unlucky catching South Africa at this time of year. Normally the weaker of the two touring teams arrives first, giving Australia time to warm up against lesser opposition. The summer is upended a little this year, with South Africa scampering back home for its summer season in December, while Australia will play Sri Lanka in the least mouth-watering Boxing Day Test for years.
Regardless of when we play South Africa, or would have played them in a perfect world, it’s hard to see us beating them. Remember, South Africa inflicted our first home series loss in years when they beat us 2-1 in the Aussie summer of 2008/09. Here’s hoping we at least put up a fight.
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