Australia vs South Africa – Test Series Preview
As we near closer to the first ball of the highly anticipated Test Series between Australia and South
Africa, Joel Arnott assesses omissions and inclusions, as well as both sides best Test XI’s in this
With the Republic coming off a confidence-boosting series victory over Australia in the one-day series, the
Proteas will also be attempting to claim the scalp of the world-champions in the Test arena.
In a tough week for the Aussies, where they have had a world-record total chased down by the Proteas, they
will be looking to reaffirm their status as the benchmark of the cricketing world.
With Glenn McGrath’s inability to take part in the upcoming series due to family illness, Shaun Tait,
Stuart Clark or the most likely of candidates Michael Kasprowicz will have mighty big shoes to fill. And as
was evident in the recent one-day series, McGrath’s pinpoint accurate bowling was sorely missed.
In a surprise omission, Brad Hodge will remain in Australia for the Bushrangers’ Pura Cup final against
Queensland. Hodge’s incredible omission has come off the back of his double-century in Perth against the
Proteas back in December, but since then the Victorian veteran has struggled in the Pura Cup, as well as in
the final two Tests of the Australia vs South Africa Test Series which took place on Australian soil.
Another surprise omission has taken place, with left-arm seamer Nathan Bracken being sent home for no
apparent reason. The New South Welshman enjoyed career best figures in the last one-day match, nabbing 5-67,
yet Stuart Clark has kept his spot despite performing with mediocrity in the recent one-day series.
Despite Jason Gillespie’s delightful Pura and ING Cup form, the ex-Australian opening bowler hasn’t been
picked, with Kasprowicz astonishingly being given the nod over the South Australian.
For South Africa, the experienced trio of spinner Nicky Boje, opening batsman Boeta Dippenaar and bowler
Andrew Hall have been recalled to the squad.
Boje will most likely be selected for the first Test at Newlands, as the pitch is expected to be a turner,
and as a result it is also likely that Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill will be bowling in tandem for the first
Dippenaar will slot straight back into the side after a brilliant domestic season, while Andrew Hall will
most likely have to settle for 12th man duties.
This highly-anticipated Test Series will prove to be an entertaining one, and with the Australian’s lacking
a formidable option to open the bowling with Brett Lee, we could see this one go right down to the wire.
Despite this dilemma for captain Ricky Ponting, the boys from down under still hold the most scintillating
world-class batsmen in their arsenal, and this should prove to be too tough to combat for Graeme Smith and his
Prediction: Australia to win the series 1-0.
Australian Test Best XI
Matthew Hayden: Wisden cricketer of the year 2003, the man they call “Haydos” has still got it. The
tall barnstorming left-hander has the ability to belt the ball through the off-side all day, and will look to
build on what has been one of the greatest opening partnerships in the history of the game.
Justin Langer: Hayden’s partner in crime, Justin Langer, has not been in the best of touch as of
late. Langer failed to score a half-century in the previous Test Series against the Proteas, and will look to
cement his spot as opener, with Phil Jaques knocking on his door.
Ricky Ponting: Officially the number one batsman in the world, “Punter” enjoyed a sensational Test
Series in Australia, notching up three centuries and two fifties in three Tests against the Proteas. With the
captain having the responsibility to lead by example, it is clear Ponting will be able to fulfill this duty,
after having come off a dazzling double century in the unforgettable fifth ODI against South Africa.
Damien Martyn: The complete textbook batsman, Damien Martyn, desperately needs a superb series in
South Africa. “Marto” has looked out of touch in the recent ODI series against the Proteas, and has spent some
time in out of the Test side. With Michael Clarke and Brad Hodge waiting for an opportunity, Martyn will need
to cement his spot in the side.
Michael Hussey: “Mr Cricket” is the complete package. Hussey has the ability to close the gate when
a defensive stand is needed, as well as the ability to tare the game apart with an array of incredible
attacking strokes. A real team player, Hussey will continue to perform to a high standard this series, and
will always aim for victory.
Andrew Symonds: “Roy” came under a heap of scrutiny in the recent Test Series in Australia, after
failing to make scores against the West Indies and to a lesser extent South Africa. Symonds silenced his
critics with a superb knock at the MCG, and will need to continue boosting his batting average with
intelligence and patience at the crease. Ponting will also utilise Symonds’ bowling, with the need for a third
pace bowler in the first Test a great one.
Adam Gilchrist: “Gilly” has enjoyed some good form with the bat during the recent ODI series, and
will look to bring that form into the Test arena. The dynamic, yet erratic left-hander went through a
reasonable Test Series in Australia, and will look to build on that form. Never-waning behind the stumps,
Gilchrist leads by example.
Shane Warne: Arguably the greatest bowler the world has ever seen, the king of spin will be bowling
with intent in the upcoming Test Series against the Proteas. Warne will attempt to demolish and demoralise the
South African batsmen with his arsenal of leg breaks, wrong-uns and flippers, while at the same time attempt
to get into the head of the South African captain through the media.
"He (Smith) didn't make 50 in the Test series in Australia. He should've worried about himself."
Brett Lee: Lee will be relied upon heavily in the series against the Proteas. With the absence of
Glenn McGrath, Lee will need to stand up as he has done in the past, and tear apart the Proteas top order with
his scintillating pace. Lee gave Graeme Smith a great deal of trouble on the Proteas tour in Australia, and
the blonde diesel will look to continue knocking him over.
Michael Kasprowicz: “Kasper” enjoyed a superb Pura cup season, racking up a healthy 44 wickets.
Kasprowicz has spent a fair bit of time out of the Australian side, and will look to cement a spot in the
squad with his fiery bowling. Kasprowicz may be handed the tough task of opening the bowling with Lee, and he
will need to be at his very best to remove the likes of Smith, Dippenaar, De Villiers and Kallis.
Stuart MacGill: Having always played second fiddle to Shane Warne his whole career, MacGill will
attempt to eclipse Warne this series, and send a strong message across the cricketing world. MacGill gains a
huge amount of turn with his leg-breaks, and will trouble the Proteas on a turning pitch at Cape Town.
South African Test Best XI
Graeme Smith: Having failed to score a fifty in the Test Series in Australia, Smith will attempt to
lead his side by example, and build a solid foundation for the South African’s at the top of the order. Smith
will look to bring his superb one-day form over to the Test arena, and cause all sorts of problems for Lee and
Boeta Dippenaar: Dippenaar has enjoyed some superb form in the two ODI series, in Australia and in
South Africa. Dippenaar has also performed wonderfully in domestic cricket, and will look to cement his spot
in the side for the future.
Jacques Kallis: ICC Player of the Year 2005, Kallis will be looking to tire the Aussies in the field
with his long, draining stints at the crease. Kallis has the greatest defensive technique in the world, and
also has the ability to slowly but surely rack up the runs by finding the gaps through the off-side. Kallis
is a man that possesses broad and powerful shoulders, enabling him to burst through the crease with his
medium-pacers and trouble world-class batsmen. If he can stay injury free, Kallis is in for a huge series.
AB de Villiers: AB de Villiers is still competing for the wicket-keeping spot with Mark Boucher, but
at the same time his batting is sublime enough to earn him a spot in the side. De Villiers has looked superb
at the top of the order opening with Smith, but with the return of Dippenaar, it appears he will slide down
slightly. AB is a run-scoring prodigy, and should not be underestimated by the Aussies. AB’s wicket will be a
Herschelle Gibbs: After coming off a mammoth 175 runs off 111 balls in the 5th and final ODI of the
recent series against Australia, Gibbs will be gleaming with confidence coming into this Test Series. Gibbs
brings a huge element of all-out attack to the Proteas side, and is an enormous talent. The only thing that
stands in the way of Gibbs is poor shot selection, which has cost him his wicket on countless occasions. The
world-champs will look to nab Herschelle’s wicket early on.
Ashwell Prince: A strong player through the off-side, the left-handed Prince still is not an
automatic selection in the Proteas side, and will look to cement his spot with a solid series. Prince has the
ability to face top-class bowling with confidence, and is solid in defence.
Mark Boucher: The veteran wicketkeeper oozes class with the bat. Boucher has the ability to pull off
match-saving innings, as well as the ability to work well with the tail-end batsmen. Boucher is a hard-worker,
and possesses a great cricketing brain. The vice-captain should have a consistent series.
Shaun Pollock: The number one all-rounder in cricket, Pollock is known to trouble the batsmen early
on with the ball, as well as having the ability to belt the top-class bowling all over and out of the park.
The most accurate bowler in world cricket is a barometer of the Proteas. If Pollock is firing, then so are
the South Africans. Even at the age of 32, “Polly” never ceased to amaze.
Nicky Boje: The much-maligned left-arm spinner has been in and out of the Proteas side in recent
times, but will look to impress the selectors with a solid performance on a turning wicket. Boje has been
known as the “buffet bowler”, and will need to pitch the ball in the right areas to threaten the Australian
Andre Nel: The fiery charismatic Nel is a superb bowler. Nel is able to intimidate batsmen with
ease, and is a crowd favourite. The determined seamer will look to get stuck into the Australian middle order
throughout the series, and will be bowling incredibly fiercely.
Makhaya Ntini: The fastest bowler the Proteas have to offer, Ntini is sensational when he gets his
line and length correct. Ntini is known to stray wide of his line to the left-handers, and gets slashed
through the off-side more often than not. Makhaya will need to be at his best while he is bowling to two
left-handed openers in Hayden and Langer.
• Have a view on this story? Send us your feedback!