Contests between South Africa and Australia always provide good fun to cricket fans. Both teams had history of rivalry that dates back to the apartheids period. Australia was the last international team to visits South Africa during 1969/70 season and lost the series 4-0.South African cricket team was barred from international cricket because of their racist policy. They remain in exile for more than 20 years but kept their cricket alive by inviting overseas players to play in their domestic league.
South Africa returned to international cricket in 1991 by touring India for 3 one day international. They were the surprised package of 1992 cricket world cup played in Australia and one can safely say that it was a huge misfortune that prevents them from qualifying in the final of world cup in their maiden appearance.
Coming back to Australia South Africa test matches, South Africa toured Australia for a three match series in 1993/94 season. Not many critics were giving South Africa much of a chance against the mighty Aussies but infect it was South Africa who drew first blood in this series by winning the 2nd match of the series played at SCG by only the 5 runs. It was a huge effort considering that South Africa successfully defended a meager total of 116.Fanie de Villiers with 6 wickets in Australia’s second innings was the chief architect of this victory. Australia won the 3rd test played at Adelaide and series was drawn 1-1.In the same season, Australia also visited South Africa for a three match series which also ended 1-1 courtesy to South Africa’s victory at Johannesburg, while Australia won at cape town and Durban test ended in a draw.
After the earlier two drawn series, Australia never allows South Africa to come anywhere close to them and won 6 test series in a row on home & away basis. It was the series played in South Africa during 1996/97 season which launched Australia’s ascendency over South Africa. A series which was billed by many analysts as an unofficial test championship fails to lived upto its earlier expectations as Australia with a masterly professional display took the series 2-1.This was also South Africa’s first home series defeat after reemergence
Australia from then on completely dominated South Africa in test matches white washing them twice once in 2001/02 season during South Africa’s tour of Australia and second time during the 2005/06 season when Aussies were touring South Africa. Australia dominated all the test playing nations from 1998 to 2007 and South Africa was no exception.
South Africa’s dream of beating Australia in a test series saw day light when they defeated the Aussies 2-1 in a series played in Australia during the 2008/09 season. It took South Africa more than 17 years after reemergence and some real heroic efforts from J.P.Duminy and Dale Steyn to achieve this milestone. South African victory in this series clearly signal that aura of Australia’s invincibility comes to an end
South Africa after reemergence, so far unable to beat Australia in a home test series. The closest they came to achieve this target was during the test series played in South Africa in 2010/11 season. Leading the series 1-0 after attaining victory at Cape town in a bizarre manner South Africa need 2 wickets to win the 2nd test match played at Johannesburg but debutant Pat Cummins in partnership with Mitchell Johnson remain steadfast and carry Australia over the line to win the test for his team and level the series.
South Africa’s current tour down under will definitely provide some high quality test cricket. First test of the series played at Brisbane ended in a draw due to a combination of docile pitch and weather intervention. The next two test matches to be played Adelaide and Perth are expected to be absolute crackers for the crowd in ground and millions watching around the world on their television screens. During the current test series, both teams will miss some of the key players who are not participating due to injury problems. The major players missing are Shane Watson and Pat Cummins for Australia and J.P Duminy for South Arica who got injured during the late evening practice session on the first day of Brisbane test.
Analyzing the strength & weaknesses of both teams, I think South Africa will win the series. My analysis is based on the fact that South Africa’s batting lineup is more skillful & experienced then Australia’s batting line up. Two rookies Ed Cowans and David Warner will open the batting for Australia during the series on the other hand South Africa’s opening pair is more settled and experienced. Same is the situation in middle order where presence of Amla, Kallis & Devilliers give South Africa more stability compare to Australia who will be heavily relying on Michael Clarke & Mike Hussey to deliver the goods.
South Africa’s bowling also has lot of experience and depth. Australia made a good move by including experienced Hilfenhaus in its bowling line up but lack of quality spinning option will surely hurt them. This is the series where major role in bowling department will be of pacers as no team possesses a quality spinner in its rank.
This is a series in which batsman have to guard against complacency as one collapse of either batting line up may decide the fate of the series. The onus will be on the top order to perform as no team possess quality lower order players like Adam Gilchrist, Mark Boucher or Pat Symcox who in their own right were very capable to turn the match upside down single handedly
Let’s hope weather remain clear and we cricket fanatics can go on and fully enjoy the intriguing contests to be played in Adelaide & Perth