Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – Once all-conquering Australia
may be recapturing their lustre as a world cricket power, South Africa’s new
coach Gary Kirsten believes.
During an in-depth interview with Sport24,
Kirsten also warned that it would be naive of the Proteas to “even start
thinking England 2012” when they first face the challenges this summer of the
Aussies and Sri Lanka at home and New Zealand away.
“We’ve got two very big series coming up at
home against quality opposition, plus New Zealand on their own soil are never
easy to knock over.”
Only in the middle of next year will South
Africa finally be able to turn their attention to a three-Test tour of England,
the country recently elevated to No 1 spot on the ICC Test rankings.
Kirsten has noted Australia’s early success
in Sri Lanka, where they won the one-day international 3-2 and, at the time of
writing, had made a promising start to the first Test.
“I’ve been quite surprised by their results
(there). They won the ODI series and I’d have been inclined beforehand to back
the home team to win it, actually.
“They’re able to bowl people out; they kept
bowling the Sri Lankans out.
“The thing with Australia: it’s never easy
against them and that’s the mark of a great cricketing nation. I think South
Africa are the same.
“You still have to be on top of your game
to beat the Aussies. It’s always nice to feel you can put them under pressure,
because then they become like any other team – but you’ve still got to do
Michael Clarke’s team presently top the ICC
ODI rankings, with the Lankans in second and South Africa currently fourth.
It is in the Test arena where their decline
since the near-simultaneous retirements of several greats has been more
pronounced: they are three notches lower than the Proteas in fifth.
South Africa entertain Australia from
mid-October in two Twenty20 internationals, three ODIs and two Tests.
Asked whether he felt the Proteas would
have enough cricket beneath their belts before the unusually early-season visit
of the Australians, Kirsten said: “I’m a little bit worried about the lead-up,
to be honest.
“I suppose it’s an issue with any team;
that initial part of the season. It’s difficult for a coach to work out what is
the correct preparation. But the landscape is what it is – there’s little you
“Thirteen of our players are involved in
the Twenty20 Champions League (ahead of the Aussie tour); that’s the simple
“So there won’t be too many left here ...
what’s the point of trying to arrange a warm-up against Zimbabwe or something?
“So things are a little disjointed from a
national perspective. It’s not ideal, by any stretch. We’ll get together as the
Proteas a week ahead of that first T20 international (at Newlands on October
13). The only comforting thing is that Australia will be in a fairly similar
of Gary Kirsten’s thoughts to Rob Houwing will be published on www.Sport24.co.za over
the next few days.