Boycott tips SA for Test series
Cape Town - South Africa’s pace attack will be the essential difference between the sides when the Proteas host Pakistan shortly in a keenly-awaited three-Test series.
So says controversial pundit and former England opening batsman Geoffrey Boycott, who lives in the Western Cape.
Speaking in his regular “Bowl at Boycs” slot on www.espncricinfo.com on Thursday, Boycott turned around a reader inquiry over whether “the likes of (Pakistan bowlers) Junaid Khan and Saeed Ajmal can hold back South Africa’s run machine of Amla, Kallis and Smith”.
He said: “Good question, but I would turn it a different way: can Pakistan’s batsmen hold back the seamers of South Africa? That’s where the crux is; it’s not Pakistan’s bowlers against the South African batsmen.
“The South African batsmen are good - there’s Kallis, Amla, Smith, there’s AB de Villiers, who is a fabulous player as well, but it is not that that would worry me if I was Pakistan.
“Can Pakistan’s batsmen bat against the best seam attack in the world? They are definitely going to come at Pakistan really strong.
“Morne Morkel is bowling well, Dale Steyn is the best in the world, and (Vernon Philander) who is injured at the moment picks up wickets every time he bowls, doesn’t he?
“Where the hell has he been all our lives? He just gets hold of the ball, just goes a little bit out, a little bit in, swings it a bit, nips it around at pace, gives very few balls to hit ... Pakistan have got to get runs. That’s the key.
“South Africa’s bowling is the best in the world by far. Philander would be a crackerjack bowler in any era, any period, any team, let me tell you. The others aren’t behind – they are very good indeed, so I put my money on South Africa.”
Boycott said he liked Pakistan, because despite hardship or turmoil they always produced “some young kids with talent”. But pitches in South Africa were a little quicker.
“The newness does not go off the ball so easily in South Africa. And if you play in Cape Town or Johannesburg, the ball whistles through ... the ball carries, it carries higher, and it demands better footwork, particularly on the back foot, and this is what will test the Pakistan batsmen more than ever.”
The first Test begins at the Wanderers on February 1.
Pakistan have not yet won a Test series in this country, from four attempts.*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing
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