Gary’s Oz rebound warning

2011-09-01 12:18
Michael Clarke (AP)

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 that!”

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 can do.

“Thirteen of our players are involved in the Twenty20 Champions League (ahead of the Aussie tour); that’s the simple fact.

“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 boat.”

*More of Gary Kirsten’s thoughts to Rob Houwing will be published on over the next few days.

Read more on:    gary kirsten  |  cape town  |  proteas

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