2nd Test Preview: Australia v South Africa
St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth, March 9-13
Australia’s comprehensive victory in Durban was overshadowed by the confrontation between Aussie Vice-Captain David Warner and South African keeper Quinton de Kock.
Warner has been hit with a grade two contrary conduct charge by match referee Jeff Crowe, meaning the opener could face the prospect of a two match suspension. If Warner cops to an early guilty plea, he could be looking at three demerit points going on his record, while De Kock has been hit with a lesser grade one charge.
The Aussies will be fired up and be looking to ram home their 1-0 advantage when play commences in the Second Test.
South Africa have only themselves to blame for creating the perfect conditions in Durban for Mitchell Starc.
The Protea’s brains trust made an effort to blunt Australia’s pace attack by serving up a slow drive pitch, perfect for swing bowling, with Starc taking full advantage. The Aussie quick finished with nine wickets for the match, upstaging South African spinner Keshav Maharaj who also matched Starc’s efforts with the ball.
The Port Elizabeth pitch has traditionally been tailored made for spin bowlers and Nathan Lyon will surely have a say on the outcome. The last time Australia ventured to the ground they were trounced by the Protea’s in 2014 to the tune of 231 runs.
South Africa will be worried by the form of several key batsmen with Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla struggling in the First Test. Du Plessis is carrying a broken finger and he will surely be put to the test against the likes of Pat Cummins. Amla can’t seem to catch a break against Josh Hazlewood, the Aussie quick has dismissed him six times in seven innings.
Australia will be wanting to field the same eleven and with no major injury concerns over the side, it’s unlikely Steve Smith will want to change a winning formula. Cameron Bancroft will be feeling better about his role in the side, after a second innings half-century. Usman Khawaja’s weakness against spin bowling will be put under the microscope again, in the spin-friendly conditions.
Given the events surrounding the First Test in Durban, the Aussies will be looking to keep the pressure on South Africa. Nathan Lyon triggered a first innings collapse that saw South Africa bowled out for 162, taking the key wicket of Amla for a duck. With some telling contributions from the Marsh brothers in the middle order, Australia are in the box-seat to take control of the series in Port Elizabeth.
South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Theunis de Bruyn, AB de Villiers, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada.
Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.
Warm-up match: Australia beat South Africa A by five wickets
First Test Kingsmead, Durban, March 1-5
Second Test St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth, March 9-13
Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26
Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3
*Photo credits to Ghetty Images