Cape Town – There is a massive incentive for South Africa to
keep the accelerator down in two dead-rubber meetings and thrash Australia by
an eventual 5-0 margin in their current one-day international series.
Neither side has ever previously clean-swept the other in
this format – though both have sampled the phenomenon against each other at
Test level -- so if the buoyant Proteas can extend the misery for the tourists’
spooked, lightweight bowling attack, in particular, at St George’s Park on
Sunday and then Newlands next Wednesday, bilateral history will be made.
The feat must be considered “on”, given the degree to which
the now 3-0 down Aussies have suffered at the hands of their hosts’ array of
stroke-players, with David Miller simply the latest to get stuck in really
royally at Kingsmead on Wednesday with his match-winning century heroics.
It just seems that whatever Australia post with their own
decent batting line-up, the Proteas seem able to go better at present.
That has been especially apparent in the two chases South
Africa have had in the series thus far: first they made ridiculously light work
of hunting down 295 at SuperSport Park in game one, doing it with almost 14 overs
to spare, and then set various new statistical landmarks of excellence at
Kingsmead as they reached an unlikely, taxing requirement of 372.
So it may require a combination of freakish Aussie
run-scoring success in Port Elizabeth (10:00 start) and some complacency on the
part of Faf du Plessis’s troops for the visitors to pull one back there.
Just as they broke a four-game Kingsmead losing hoodoo
against Australia specifically on Wednesday, the Proteas will also seek to end
a three-match general ODI losing run at St George’s Park – they have been
beaten there by all of England, West Indies and Pakistan recently.
Of course clean sweeps do not come that easily in fully
completed series of five matches or more, and South Africa have only managed it
three times – all against West Indies (5-0 each time in the Caribbean, in 2005
and 2010, and the same outcome against them on our soil in 2007/08).
The Proteas have also previously beaten England and West
Indies 6-1 in seven-match series, New Zealand 5-0 in a six-match series
featuring one no-result, and Sri Lanka 5-1 in a six-game home affair in
Their best previous outcome in a bilateral series against
the arch-rival Aussies, however, is 4-1 (five games) away in the 2008/09
season, with Johan Botha in charge after Graeme Smith had gone home injured
following a famous Test series triumph.
Australia, for their part, enjoyed their own most one-sided
success against South Africa thus far on our shores in 2001/02, when they won a
scheduled seven-match series 5-1 (one washout) – the hosts spared a few blushes
by winning the closing game at Newlands, when a very raw Smith scored 73 and
Nicky Boje bagged 5/21 with the ball.
By winning all of the first three fixtures in the present
series, South Africa have also closed the overall victory gap in ODIs between
the two countries to 47-43 in Aussie favour, with three ties and one no-result from
94 games on record.
Two further SA victories would make things even tighter.
*The Proteas have also moved up to second on the ODI
rankings, with the Aussie series having gone past the midway point, although
the tourists stay No 1 for the moment with 120 rating points to SA’s 114.