A Litmus Test for Australia
The series is squared. Both teams have beaten each other by heavymargins. A fitting cliché for the battle between the best teams on the planet at the moment.
A highly anticipated decider at Cape Town is awaited. But, is the contest as close as we think?
Australia came into South Africa having a massive momentum. They regained The Ashes fair and square. Were enjoying the Popeye-who-found-his-spinach AKA Johnson’s form. Albeit batting frailties were unobscured, the potential was unquestioned.
They were confident. They were intimidating. They were ruthless. They had momentum. Maybe in real picture, they simply had Johnson.
Glibly they carried their momentum and won at Centurion. Now they were
even more confident. Even more intimidating. Even more ruthless. Had even more momentum.
Unlike Australia, South Africa looked perturbed. With Marsh and Doolan performing to bits, Australia had absolutely nothing to ponder upon. South Africa had a different story. For close to two years, they had a settled unit. Now, the question of team balance has deflowered. The conundrum over Kallis’ spot remained. Skipper heavily short of runs. His opening partner out-of-knick. A rare dry patch for Hash. Duminy’s role is under the scanner. McLaren out with Johnson concussion.
Australia had the upper hand. Talks of Johnson inflicted wounds and comparison with England’s Ashes drubbing were flowing in. Alviro catching a virus added to worries. Three new faces in the starting eleven. South Africa were literally cornered.
But maybe, that’s simply what the populace thought.
One man single handedly winning you matches can be good pedigree for a Bollywood film. But in real picture, they could be over-reliant on him. Yes, it’s a team game and when someone contributes alot, skipper needn’t worry much. But he needs to if the team looses its zing when that guy shuts shop. Or maybe, the hosts gives you a slower wicket.
Johnson neutralized, Australia neutralized.
The series is squared. Both teams have beaten each other by heavy
margins. A fitting cliché for the battle between the best teams in the
planet at the moment. A highly anticipated decider at Cape Town is awaited.
But, is the contest as close as we think?
South Africa had been a consistent side for almost half-a-decade. So consistent that they never lost a series in that time period. So consistent that they have a gulf in the ranking points form the second best. So consistent that every time they start a fresh series, they f*ck up the first match.
These are South Africa’s last three Test series’ results:
South Africa v Pakistan
South Africa 249 and 232; Pakistan 442 and 45/3
Result- Pakistan won by 7 wickets
Pakistan 99 and 326; South Africa 517
Result- South Africa won by an innings and 92 runs
South Africa v India
India 280 and 421; South Africa 244 and 450/7
Result- Match drawn
India 334 and 223; South Africa 500 and 59/0
Result- South Africa won by 10 wickets
Australia in South Africa Test series
Australia 397 and 290-4dec; South Africa 206 and 200
Result- Australia won by 281 runs
South Africa 423 and270/5dec; Australia 246 and 216
Result- South Africa won by 231 runs
Clearly, rustiness is omnipresent with South Africa. Add a bit of absence-of-Kallis and one could get a clearer picture of first Test at Centurion.
Was it the rustiness or Australia that actually got the better of South Africa in Centurion?
The tables are twisted, the momentum is switched, confidence meter reversed, the ones who were intimidating is intimidated. South Africa could be ruthless.
Cape Town could be Australia’s litmus test. They’ve raised quite a few eyebrows starting from Brisbane. Johnson himself raised a good number. Eyebrows and toes. The batting line-up was always questioned. It was only a matter of time before it started to weigh. And the maybe-we-are-the-best-bowling-attack-in-the-world looked toothless at the anti-Mitch pitch at PE.
Come Cape Town and they put up a fighting contest, this Australian
side do deserve all those superlatives poured on during The Ashes and
surely are one to watch out for, as they’ve shown. If they don’t,
heard of one hit wonders?