1st Test Preview: Australia v South Africa
Australia will be looking to continue their good form when the First Test against South Africa commences in Durban. The South Africans have name a full-strength line-up in what could potentially be the last series for the likes of AB DeVillers, Hashim Amala and Morne Morkle. The South Africans will be wanting to send Morkle out a winner, with the South African paceman set to retire at the end of the series.
The Australians have never been beaten by the Proteas in South Africa since their re-introduction to the international scene in 1991. The last time these two sides met, the South Africans got the better of Steve Smith, claiming the series in Australia 2-1.
The Proteas have a poor record in Durban, winning only one Test since 2008. After an extended break from the T20I series, Steve Smith will be hungry to dominate a South African attack minus paceman Dale Steyn. If the Aussies can get onto in the first session, then they’ll be tough task for the Proteas to halt Australia’s momentum.
Australia won’t be daunted by the challenge of facing the Proteas in South Africa. The last time these two sides played at Kingsmead Phil Hughes hit centuries in each innings, and Mitchell Johnson decimated the South African batting line-up
The Proteas have a number of injury concerns in their aging squad with Faf du Plessis, AB de Villers and Quinton De Kock all coming back from injury concerns. De Villers has struggled to back up for the rainbow nation across all three formats and the series represents his last opportunity to get the better of the Aussies in front of his home fans.
After an extended break from white ball cricket Australian skipper Steve Smith will be hungry for runs against one of the best pace attacks in world cricket. Cameron Bancroft found some time in the middle during the warm-up game against South Africa A and the middle order didn’t put a foot wrong during the Ashes in Australia.
Australia’s bowling unit give them an edge in South African conditions. The trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood are complimented by the spin of Nathan Lyon. Lyon was a key factor in Australia winning the Ashes and the GOAT was the top wicket taker in the world in 2017.
The Aussies rattled a few cages in the warm-up match and their bowling attack gives them the edge in a tight clash.
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