Brace yourselves! South Africa are on their way for their first face-to-face with Australia since the epoch-ending ball-tampering scandal earlier this year. And, Faf du Plessis acknowledged the likelihood of a hostile reception as the Proteas gear up to play three One-Day Internationals and a Twenty20 International Down Under. This will be the first time the two teams face each other since the ball-tampering saga and a lot has changed in the Australian camp since then. For starters, Aaron Finch has been unveiled as Australia’s newest one day captain and will be supported, in keeping with a recent trend adopted by the board, by Alex Carey and Josh Hazlewood who have been named joint vice-captains. The trio headline the 14-player squad selected by the National Selection Panel for the three-game series. The changes are with the view of allowing Tim Paine to focus entirely on leading the Test side and thus Cricket Australia have relieved him of his ODI duties. His deputy Mitch Marsh has been dropped too.
The team now has its third captain this year with Aaron Finch replacing Tim Paine who took the reins from Steve Smith for just one ODI series. At least Paine has Test cricket to focus on though, unlike all five quicks who featured for Australia in England, but were left out of the squad.
Australia received a hostile reception from South Africa’s supporters during a bad-tempered tour leading up to the Newlands incident that resulted in bans for Steven Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, and South African captain Faf du Plessis is relishing the backlash he expects to receive from fans and the media in Australia. On a positive note, before the start of the series du Plessis has said his side will not use the ball-tampering scandal which plunged Australian cricket into disgrace earlier this year as a means of winding up the hosts. “In terms of what happened in Newlands, that’s in the past for us. For us, it’s business as usual.” The fact that du Plessis has himself twice been found guilty of ball-tampering in the past won’t escape the attention of the media, and he suggested that the entire squad would be under increased scrutiny.
Young Australian fans hold up a sign Cricket Australia/Getty Images
November 04th, Sunday – 1st ODI
Perth Stadium, Perth, 08.50am
November 09th, Friday – 2nd ODI
Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, 08.50am
November 11th, Sunday – 3rd ODI
Bellerive Oval, Hobart- 08.20am
November 17th, Saturday – Only T20I
Carrara Oval, Queensland, 01.50pm
Australia‘s batsmen are failing across all three formats, with Aaron Finch admitting the woeful performance in the T20 series against Pakistan was just the latest example of a frailty that has become entrenched in the national side. The new captain and his deputies will be expected to lead the side through a big Australian summer, where they’ll meet South Africa and India, before preparation begins for the defence of the ever looming World Cup. Alex Carey will pull on the gloves full-time to allow Tim Paine to focus purely on captaining the Test team, which includes preparing for next year’s Ashes. Carey also provides the Aussies with another strong batting option, as he displayed in last year’s Big Bash.
The team will have its third captain this year with Aaron Finch replacing Tim Paine who took the reins from Steve Smith for just one ODI series.
At least Paine has Test cricket to focus on though, unlike all five quicks who featured for Australia in England, but were left out of the squad on Saturday.
The three-match ODI series also sees the return of swashbuckling opener Chris Lynn, who has put in commendable performances for Queensland in the JLT Cup to finish as the highest run-scorer of the tournament. Lynn’s comeback is a reward for his consistency. The domestic competition also allowed a few others – like D’Arcy Short, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis – to show why they should continue to be part of the setup in the lead up to the 2019 World Cup. Among the spinners, senior pro Nathan Lyon – who is Australia’s Test-match lynchpin – has been rested, with offie Ashton Agar and wrist spinner Adam Zampa expected to fight for a lone spot.
On the South African side, a spate of injuries have affected their plans with Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Wiaan Mulder all ruled out and up to six players in the squad making their limited overs debut Down Under. Duminy was ruled out because of a shoulder injury while Hashim Amla is out because of a finger injury giving Chris Morris and Farhaan Behardien a look in to bolster the experience quotient. Morris, 31, last played for South Africa in February this year during the India series while the injury-enforced absence of Wiaan Mulder, who made a name for himself with his all-round abilities in Sri Lanka, opened up a place for Dwaine Pretorious, Behardien gets another crack at nailing down one middle-order place for himself in the build up to World Cup 2019. Veteran bowlers Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir would make the trip too and will add to the strike power of fast bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi. As with any injury, the current flux in South Africa’s ODI setup is untimely given head coach Ottis Gibson’s recent proclamations that they’ll stop exploring too many options in order to settle on a group of players for the World Cup. However, the team management remain optimistic given the good state of bowling which has seen Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir operate at near-peak capacity against Zimbabwe.
ODIs: Aaron Finch(c), Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Shaun Marsh, D Arcy Short, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Ashton Agar, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey
ODIs: Faf du Plessis(c), Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, Imran Tahir, Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Chris Morris, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Reeza Hendricks
T20I: Faf du Plessis(c), Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, Imran Tahir, Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Chris Morris, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Reeza Hendricks
SA‚ no doubt still bathing in the afterglow of claiming their first Test rubber in Australia in January 2009 prevailing 4-1 and which remains their only success in bilateral series in the format there. The tour would be an eye-opener for the inexperienced, younger members of the Proteas squad who have not played international cricket in Australia before. A situation where the crowds play their part, a 12th man if you like. Good place for conditioning mental strength and skill according to Faf. As he puts it “for a lot of the new guys it will be the first time where they field on the boundary and they hear just how good they are as human beings.”
“You don’t get much of that anywhere else in the world anymore, it is the one place where you still feel like the crowd gets on top and really behind the home team.”
Presumably‚ that the Aussies are still reeling from their own ball-tampering scandal will be forgotten. But only if they win. Should they lose‚ again‚ they will need far thicker skins than their opponents.
All the best Faf and co. Get them Aussies ready for Virat and gang who follow in your steps!
Ready for Some A Hot Aussie Summer Folks?
Who is your Super 8?
Leagues up in the Lobby, Go get ’em champs!