Australia in SA

Australia short of options

2011-11-16 15:34
Michael Clarke (File)

Johannesburg - Australia face a selection dilemma ahead of the second and final Test against South Africa at the Wanderers Stadium starting on Thursday, although there are not many options for the touring team.

Australia collapsed to a humiliating 47 all out in their second innings in the first Test in Cape Town last week on the way to an eight-wicket defeat, leading to calls from Australia for major changes ahead of the team's next series, at home against New Zealand.

Critics have called for the heads of former captain Ricky Ponting, wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, but because of the composition of the touring party, only Johnson seems in danger of losing his place in Johannesburg.

Ponting, 36, has struggled for form over the past year. He made eight and nought in the first Test but both captain Michael Clarke and batting coach Justin Langer have backed him as a key player.

Ponting's experience could be crucial, and he could now move back to the No 3 position he filled for most of his career following a back injury that forced Shaun Marsh to return home.

However, captain Michael Clarke said on Wednesday that Usman Khawaya would bat at No 3 in a straight swap for Marsh, with Ponting continuing at No 4.

Haddin, 34, has also been out of form and was dismissed for five and nought in Cape Town, playing a particularly poor shot to lose his wicket in the second innings. But he is the only wicketkeeper in the squad.

Johnson, who shone against South Africa in home and away series in 2008-09, has looked a shadow of the bowler he was then.

He conceded 87 runs in 16 overs in the first Test and his only wicket was almost in the nature of a consolation when Hashim Amla slashed him to gully when South Africa were only 14 runs short of victory.

Promising teenage fast bowler Pat Cummins looks likely to start at the Wanderers and could replace Johnson, although fellow fast bowler Ryan Harris was a slight doubt after waking up "stiff and sore", according to Clarke.

Opening batsmen Shane Watson and Phil Hughes both failed twice against South Africa's potent fast bowling attack.

Watson is a certain choice because of his bowling, which was mainly responsible for South Africa tumbling to 96 all out in Cape Town, but Hughes did not look anything like the player who had an impressive debut series against South Africa three seasons ago.

Australia called up David Warner to replace Marsh and there might be a temptation to give the hard-hitting opening batsman a Test debut.

Clarke vowed after the first Test to select the best possible team for the Wanderers.

"If that means no changes, there will be no changes," he said. "If it means four changes, I want the best 11 to win the Test."

South Africa are unlikely to change a winning team and will go into the match confident of completing a first home series win against Australia in the post-isolation era.

The last time South Africa won at home against Australia was when a team led by Ali Bacher won all four Test matches in 1969-70.

Groundsman Chris Scott has promised a "good cricket pitch", saying: "There'll be pace and there'll be bounce."

Pace and bounce will suit South Africa's world-class fast bowling pair of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, with the latter particularly well placed to take advantage of bounce.

Vernon Philander, who shared the new ball with Steyn and had an impressive debut, was praised by captain Graeme Smith for bringing control and "a bit of mettle" to the attack.

Despite winning convincingly in the end, South Africa also showed frailties, with Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Ashwell Prince and Mark Boucher scoring 12 runs between them in the first innings.

Kallis was the only one of the quartet to bat in the second innings, scoring two not out before Smith hit the winning run.

Only Prince had played any recent first-class cricket before the first Test.

Teams:

South Africa (likely): Graeme Smith (captain), Jacques Rudolph, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Ashwell Prince, Mark Boucher (wkt), Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir

Australia (from): Michael Clarke (captain), Shane Watson, Phillip Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, David Warner, Brad Haddin (wicketkeeper), Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon, Trent Copeland, Michael Beer, Patrick Cummins

Umpires: Billy Bowden (NZL), Ian Gould (ENG)

TV umpire: Billy Doctrove (WIS)

Match referee: Roshan Mahanama (SRI)

Read more on:    australia in sa
NEXT ON SPORT24X

No way back for KP

2014-04-19 13:49

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
Sport Talk

Fixtures
06 July 2014
Sri Lanka v South Africa, Colombo 06:15
09 July 2014
Sri Lanka v South Africa, Pallekele International Cricket Stadium 11:00
12 July 2014
Sri Lanka v South Africa, Hambantota 06:15
Previous Results

Date Match Result
Vote

Graeme Smith's shock decision to retire is...

 
 
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Featured Blog

The stock of Bulls and Sharks 2014 Super Rugby jerseys are slowly becoming available after the festive season break, writes blogger Baylion.

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

TV schedule Plan your couch time with our searchable sport TV guide

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.