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Australia excellent. South Africa? Come on, step up…

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Last Updated on 6 years by Charbel Coorey

1-nil to the Aussies.

Comprehensive. Impressive. Standard set for the tour.

Australia dominated South Africa in Durban, and exposed what many of us thought would be the weakness for South Africa – their batting. While it was excellent to see Aiden Markram (HUGE future for this kid) and Quinton De Kock spark hope of an amazing victory on the fourth evening, the writing was on the wall after lunch on the first day, in my opinion.

Watching with interest on the first day, what was particularly disappointing for me was South Africa’s intensity, or lack of, in the field at times. With Australia three down at lunch on the first day, the second session was crucial, and South Africa came out and strolled around as if things would happen naturally.

You may think I’m being a little harsh here, but what did you think of Morne Morkel’s spell in particular after lunch? Morkel, playing in his final series, has had a good career, but with Australian star and captain Steve Smith at the crease, surely that is the time to crank the intensity up a notch, and put everything you have into that very important spell. Instead, Morne was strolling in bowling at 130km/h, offering either a half volley on Smith’s pads, or short wide “hit me” balls. Not what you expect in a key period in such a big series.

The lack of intensity at times was concerning, and it’s time for South Africa to find the fire in the belly again! Against a good Australia team in very good form, this is critical. Australia have now won six of their last seven Tests, and the thing they would want most is for South Africa to have a cautious mindset.

Faf’s cartwheeling offstump

South Africa conceding 350 first up, after having Australia 251/7, was disappointing, and the batting failed to deliver in the first innings. In such a big series, first innings parity is an absolute minimum if you have any thoughts of winning. Personally, South Africa showed Australia far too much respect, not only in the way they played, but from the pitch they prepared.

In the recent Ashes series, Australia were very good on the flat, slower than usual Australia pitches. South Africa, instead of backing themselves on a typical home pitch – the kind we saw in Cape Town v India – entered the match in fear of Australia’s attack, producing a very slow, lifeless pitch by South African standards. The point I’m making here is that when you enter a match giving the opposition too much respect, you are set for a tough time, because half the cricket battle is in the mind. Mitchell Starc (what a magnificent bowler this man is), Josh Hazlewood, Patrick Cummins and Nathan Lyon are all brilliant enough without the opposition doing them favours. Australia said “thank you”, and South Africa’s defensive mindset hurt them, getting bowled out for 162 in the first innings, giving the series lead to Australia gift-wrapped nicely with a ribbon on top.

Even despite beating India 2-1 recently, South Africa were unconvincing at times. They were up-and-down, and if the Proteas want to be number one in Tests, they need to sort this out. What’s even more disappointing at the moment is that their top six are all showing glimpses of good form, but they can’t seem to all put it together. Hashim Amla, for example, was unbelievable in the final Test v India on an extreme Johannesburg pitch, but couldn’t get going here.

South Africa certainly have the talent to do well, and I certainly still believe they can win the series 2-1. However, we need to see more intensity and belief in the things they do. It starts with some more fire in the belly, and David Warner’s scuffle with Quinton de Kock can certainly help – this could fire the South Africans up! Knowing how Faf du Plessis goes about his work, he will ensure Australia don’t walk all over his side, and with some promising second innings batting, I expect South Africa to bounce back strongly in the second Test.

Believe me, this series is far from over. Australia are looking fantastic at the moment, but if South Africa can find their belief and mojo, this series might well live up to its billing.

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Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has also been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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