Here we go again. Michael Clarke has insisted that his bowling
attack is the best in the world and he has said that the regenerated Mitchell
Johnson is one of the all-time greats.
Peter Siddle and David Warner have also piped
up and spoken about how Australia has the best bowling attack in the world with
Warner even adding that South Africa are “on the back foot” due to the
retirement of Jacques Kallis. Alastair
Cook also added his voice to the chorus and said that this Australian bowling
attack is the best he has ever faced.
Given that Cook and co. faced the South
African trio of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel not all that long
ago, it’s a statement that’s likely to get South Africans’ tails up. Who has
the best bowling attack is a debate which often surfaces but nothing quells a
debate quite like a tussle on the field and the stage is set for one colossal
In a few weeks, South Africa will take on
Australia in a three-match Test series and, at least for the time being, who
has the better bowlers will become quite evident. Anyone who looked at Ashes
scorecards and didn’t actually watch much of the cricket might be drawn to the
notion that, as an all-round unit, Australia are indeed better. After all,
England never once managed to England only batted for over 100 overs thrice on
the entire tour. The only problem is that England’s ineptitude flattered
Australia’s aptitude. Sure, there were spells were Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris
and Peter Siddle were close to unplayable, but for much of the Ashes England
were bordering on useless and Australia cashed in.
lovers of fast bowling, the looming contest between the Proteas and their
arch-rivals Australia is lip-smacking. Philander and Steyn are ranked first and
second in the world respectively while Harris is third with Siddle sixth and
Johnson eight. When the left-arm Johnson
toured South Africa in 2009, he was immense and in the same kind of form which
he currently finds himself in. He took
16 wickets in three Tests at an average of 25.00 while Siddle took 12 at an
average of 22.50. In the Ashes, Johnson
managed 37 wickets at an eye-watering average of 13.97 and it was his
relentless, bombastic and snarling aggression with a silly moustache to boot which
almost made him the pantomime villain of the tour.
It’s the kind of thing which makes Test
cricket so fascinatingly enticing, characters who become larger than life and
back it up with solid performances make the spectacle of Tests exciting, even
if the cricket is woeful from one side. England’s
fragile batting line-up is a far cry from Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, AB de
Villiers and Faf du Plessis and the Aussie pacemen will have a much different
challenge on their hands when they visit South Africa’s shores.
With conditions almost certain to favour
the fast bowlers, the tussle between the two bowling units will be the pinnacle
of the South African summer.
Australia’s batting line-up isn’t exactly overly flash. Brad Haddin and
Steve Smith were the glue that held the Aussie innings together on a number of
occasions. Save for his efforts in the first three Tests, David Warner returned
to the familiar hit and miss slogger and failed to pass 30 in the last two
games. Chris Rogers remains a rookie, with just 11 Tests to his name and has
never been Tested in hostile conditions. Considering that was against a tired and demotivated England attack,
their fortunes could turn against a refreshed and raring South African side.
After an early summer shrouded in
bitterness thanks to India’s truncated tour as a result of boardroom handbags,
the current build-up to the series which is still more than a month away will
surely fire up both the South African public as well as the bowlers and the
rest of the team.
Clarke would say that his bowlers are the
best in the world, it’s a captain’s job to motivate his
side, but they have played against the same, dodgy opposition for the last
seven months. He might want to see which
of them actually manage to stay fit for the trip to South Africa before making
such outlandish statements. As esteemed cricket journalist, Stuart Hess,
Tweeted recently, for the time being,
Antoinette Muller is a freelance writer who writes mainly about
soccer and cricket for The Daily Maverick or anybody else who will have
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