Palmerbet Sports Team preview the Test cricket series opener between South Africa and Australia, with the Proteas looking to preserve their recent home dominance and the Aussies aiming to build on a blistering Ashes campaign.
History: Played 91: Australia 50 V South Africa 21 (20 Draws).
Last meeting: November 24-27, 2016: Australia d South Africa by 7 wickets at Adelaide Oval.
Final Thoughts: The Australian team reaffirmed their status as a world test cricket powerhouse with a 4-0 Ashes destruction of England over the home summer – but an away series against South Africa represents a far bigger challenge for this burgeoning line-up.
The touring Proteas humiliated the Aussies last summer, winning by 177 runs in Perth and an innings and 80 runs in the infamous Hobart Test. After sweeping changes, Australia snared a morale-boosting seven-wicket win in Adelaide.
Australia also won their last series in South Africa – a 2-1 success in early-2014 – while the two-match series in 2011 finished 1-all and the Aussies pulled off a 2-1 upset in the Republic in 2009. In fact, Australia haven’t lost a series in South Africa since 1970.
South Africa secured a 2-1 victory in a bowler-dominated series against India on home soil last month, with pace duo Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada both starring with 15 wickets. But no batsman managed a century in the three Tests – something the hosts will need to rectify.
Australia’s hopes rest largely on skipper Steve Smith – who was sublime throughout the Ashes – and the fast-bowling barrage of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins. The visitors boast a handy advantage in the form of spinner Nathan Lyon, but Smith needs batting support from his top order, who were solid enough but slightly underwhelming against England.
South Africa have won nine of their last 10 Tests at home, though their record at Kingsmead – one win in their last seven Tests at the venue – is less impressive. Australia have won just two of their last nine Tests overseas, however, and the vastly experienced home side appear the best value option as slight underdogs, with the draw virtually no chance.
Look to Smith and Starc in the top Australian batsman and bowler markets.