Oz v SA: Quickies in doubt

2012-09-25 14:26
Dale Steyn (Gallo)
Cape Town – There are some unfortunate signs already that South Africa and Australia may not be able to throw the full kitchen sink at each other when they meet in a three-Test series Down Under in November.

With the Proteas now ranked No 1 in the world but the third-ranked Aussies having grabbed a 1-1 share of the spoils in South Africa last summer, the clashes in Brisbane (November 9-13), then Adelaide and Perth are particularly keenly awaited.

Both the Gabba and WACA grounds traditionally favour pace bowling, with Adelaide Oval the only likely featherbed, so this department has been tipped to be fierily contested.

As things stand, South Africa ought to be able to field all of their current pace battery of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and the veteran yet remarkably untiring Jacques Kallis.

But their probable “first reserve” throat-hunter, Marchant de Lange, is in a race against time to be able to be considered for squad selection.

The Cricinfo website reported on Tuesday that Titans prospect De Lange, the sturdy 21-year-old who has already played two Tests but returned early from the mid-year tour of England with a back stress fracture, may not be ready.

He has been withdrawn from the Titans squad for the Champions League Twenty20 tournament to be staged on South African turf shortly, allowing for his off-field rehabilitation to continue.

If it is any consolation for the Proteas, though – they are certainly blessed that a key component like Steyn seldom falls prey to significant injury – the Australians are probably sweating rather more at present to have their best speed battery available.

The Baggy Greens’ South African coach Mickey Arthur has been quoted as saying that their own Young Turks in the pace department – Pat Cummins, James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc – will have to be carefully “rotated” in the 2012/13 season to manage their loads and try to prevent injuries.

The exciting, 19-year-old Cummins has been especially plagued by problems in that regard, something reflected in the fact that he hasn’t played another Test match since making his debut against the very Proteas at the Wanderers last season, where his second-innings figures of 6/79 went a long way to ensuring the tourists’ narrow, levelling victory by two wickets.

He bowled with great venom at the Bullring and was considered to have given even the great Kallis a real “hurry-up”.

Arthur apparently told journalists that Cummins may only be considered for one of the three Tests, which suggests he is still very much walking a tightrope fitness-wise.

Earlier this week it was also confirmed that veteran fast bowler Ryan Harris, almost 33, is out of the series because of shoulder trouble.

The Aussies do still have more crusty competitors like Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus and Mitchell Johnson to call upon.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas  |  dale steyn  |  cricket


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