Who’s got the upper hand? The Ozzies or the Proteas!?

First they had to battle the Poms off their nr.1 ranking in England & in a couple of days’ time, they have to defend that nr. 1 ranking against Ozzies in Australia. It just doesn’t get any easier for the South African Test team does it? They have the team to do it, of that I have no doubt but not so long ago playing Australia in Australia was one of test cricket’s most daunting tasks & by the looks of the Ozzies last 2 series’ there, it can be again. So with a few days to go, I decided to take a closer look at the 2 teams, how they compare to each other, what team got the upper hand and where etc. And this is what I came up with:

The Captains:

Whenever I read about Clarke’s captaincy, the words attacking & innovative are regularly mentioned & to a certain degree that is true but (with a bit of tongue in the cheek) what former Ozzie captain do you know wasn’t like that?? Clarke no doubt has the potential to become a great captain & it seems that the added responsibility has also helped his batting. He will definitely be tested in this series & so will his ‘attacking’ mentality because there are going to be lotsa times when he’ll have to be conservative against a formidable opponent.

Many cricket experts feel that Biff is a bit too conservative when captaining his side & sometimes the SA captain gives them a legitimate reason to feel that way but I’m not so sure. Yes, I do feel that there were times when he should’ve declared earlier than he did in a couple of matches but when I look at his approach when he’s batting I don’t see any of that conservativeness he’s been labelled as. He always to try to make his presence felt, always try to attack & dominate the bowler. So why wouldn’t  he do that when he’s on the field then? He will always have his critics (hell, I’m one of them from time to time) but he’s worst critic cannot deny that there are very few captains in the test arena that can match Smith’s leadership & captaincy at the moment.

The Top order:

I’m sorry to ask this Ozzy fans but is your opening batsmen combination settled yet coz I’m not so sure. We all know the too-quickly-labelled-great Phil Hughes is out & Watson moved down a spot to 3 in your last test series against the Windies where he averaged 32 odd. The openers of Cowan & Warner didn’t fare any better with the bat with averages of 25 & 28 respectively. Throw in a Ponting that’s far from the player once feared in the cricket world & surely this should be an area where the South African bowling attack should be licking their lips for.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; we’re still talking about Watto, Warner & Punter here, 3 batsmen that can be your worst nightmare on their day.

On the other hand Darren, we have a South African top order that’s settled & spearheaded by run scoring freak, Hashim Amla. Smith always makes sure he provides some noteworthy performances against the Ozzies & I don’t think this time will be any different. And for those guys that’s still not convinced that Petersen is a capable opener on this level, a 42 average is very good. It just looks a bit bleh when it’s put around his top order partners that average almost 50.

The Middle order:

The 2 Michaels Clarke & Hussey will probably head the middle order of the Ozzies with Wade or Haddin at 7 & I see this as a bit of a soft spot that SA can target. (Wow, just had a flashback where someone like Gilchrist was batting at 7 for the Ozzies. At 7!!) I read earlier in the week that Mr. Cricket doesn’t have that great of a record against the Proteas so long may it continue. According to the test rankings, Clarke is Australia’s best batsman as he’s shown that in the last series against us, so getting him out asap should be top priority.

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