The math and its equation thereof, between Australia and South Africa seems relatively simple and quite translucent. With its fragility and current volatility, Australians seem weaklings; susceptible to collapse under pressure. At the same time, South Africa, with their settled and focused squad look destined to make crucial inroads at the Johannesburg Test. That said, here’s what seems more likely to pan out.
Momentum with South Africa
South Africa would be looking to devour the tourists who’ve clearly struggled with this sojourn of their Protean safari, while Australia would be wanting to fight fire with fire and perhaps scamper home with a surprise draw. As it is, their chances of a win seem despicably thin, if not impossible. We could have perhaps the most arresting five days of cricketing battle ahead of us all summer. But in possessing what clearly seems underwhelming assault machinery, the pressure, you ought to say is on Australia ahead of the 5-day decider. And by some telling margin, it ought to be highlighted. But, Test cricket fans, in particular, would be sure to anticipate a breathtaking encore at the Johannesburg Test. Therefore, the five grinding days of Test cricket that lay in front of us could well be a quintessential battle the Aussies and Proteas that represents not only a fight between pride and prodigious talent but also one between inexperience battling home advantage, respectively.
The ground beneath Australia’s feet is shrinking
But that said, with not one but three key absences in the deciding Johannesburg Test, Australia would feel they are up against a mountain called South Africa. In more ways than one does the Johannesburg Test match offer a litmus test in gauging whether Australia have the mettle to compete with a relatively inexperienced bunch heading into a feisty battle. And also whether they have it in them to fight for the pride of Australia.
Lest it be forgotten, that they take the battlefield at a time where not just the fans but perhaps a globetrotting spread of cricketing community are identifying in this legendary institution of cricket, a diabolical evil. How else would you term the recent outcome of events that transpired at Cape Town but eventually shook world cricket?
Proteas chasing 1st series win at home since 1970 vs. Australia
But what lies at the heart of the fourth and final Johannesburg Test is a great chance for South Africa to inflict terrible wounds on an already embattled cricketing outfit. If there is a chance for South Africa to seal their first home series win against the Aussies, since 1970, then it’s now. Having to face Starc and Hazlewood would seem like the only onerous challenge that the likes of AB, Elgar, Markram and de Kock have to contend with. If Amla, who hasn’t had the best turnarounds so far comes to the fore, then it could be heavy drubbing lying ahead for the Aussies.
Therefore, it could be said, the Proteas have pretty much everything that Australia currently lacks. Match-winners, team balance and, batsmen in form.
On the other hand, Australia’s challenge remains not only to measure if Joe Burns, Matt Renshaw can lay an able foundation for the likes of Marsh brothers to score of but also whether Tim Paine can handle his side well?
The rather extraordinary elevation of Tim Paine to Test captaincy comes across as anything but a dainty surprise. For it was just last year that the Tasmanian wicket-keeping batsman found himself out of the domestic side and was considering whether quitting Test cricket altogether. Today he’s leading a side whose most promising batsmen are also it’s most inconsistent names. Mitch and Shaun Marsh.
South Africa will want to win for Morne
All that said, the Proteas would be desperate for a win and one could expect them coming hard at Australia, firing all cylinders. The most potent force in the pace attack will be their gentle giant, Morne Morkel, who would look to add to his incredible Test tally of 306 wickets. But in his swansong Test, giving him company would be an in-form Rabada and Philander, both of whom have been among wickets, having struck 20 and 7 wickets respectively.
Should South Africa win, they will go on to strike noteworthy achievements in copious record books? Should Australia win or salvage a draw, they will offer a healing balm to what has been their most wanting, painful period in international cricket ever.
Probable Playing 11:
South Africa: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis(C), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock(WK), Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel
Australia: Joe Burns, Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine(C/WK), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon,