The Proteas and the old ball

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There has been outcry in these parts especially about Proteas fast bowler Kagiso Rabada’s ability to get the ball to reverse much earlier than his Australian counterparts. But even with the Bellerive Oval curator Marcus Pamplin ruling out significant reverse swing here due to the prevailing weather conditions, which Proteas captain Faf du Plessis described as “its lush, its green, its soft, its wet” there remains a suspicion around the visitors’ tactics.

Du Plessis, though, hit back on Friday morning in regards to the fact that it was only South Africa who managed to get the ball reversing in Perth.

“To be honest, I think it’s been blown out of proportion,” Du Plessis told a large media contingent in his pre-match press conference. “They got the ball to reverse in the 25th over. I was trying to see how they were doing that. That was a positive for me. To say it was only for us is not true. I faced a brilliant spell from (Mitchell) Starc. Split down the middle 50-50.”

The Proteas skipper believed the fundamental difference was that due to length of the 250-run partnership for the third wicket between centurions Dean Elgar and JP Duminy, it eased the pressure on the incoming South African batsmen at the WACA.

“We had batters that were in and batted for long periods of time. The second innings I came in and the first ball nipped and swung. If you get a wicket, reverse-swing will always be more difficult. Perth was really dry, the wicket was hard. We saw in the second innings with the second new ball within three overs there were big chunks coming out. Here it will be different,” he added.

The vastly contrasting underfoot and overhead conditions will certainly have an impact on South Africa’s selection for this all-important second Test. Last week’s impressive debutant Keshav Maharaj may find himself a victim of a “horses for courses” selection policy here at the Bellerive.

Despite impressing hugely in both disciplines and providing Du Plessis with the control he requires from his spinner, the 26-year-old was seen bowling in the indoor nets on Friday morning instead of in the main outdoor session.

This could imply that South Africa could head into this contest with an all-seam attack for the first time since the disastrous third Test against England at the Wanderers when Highveld Lions bruiser Hardus Viljoen was granted a debut on the basis on ruffling up captain AB de Villiers in the nets.

Du Plessis was non-committal at this stage about who would actually line-up for the anthems on Saturday morning as he wanted a closer look at the green-tinged surface.

“Kyle and Morne are both in the mix. I haven’t seen the pitch again today. With weather around we want to see which combinations to go with. We’re not sure yet. It looks like there’s a lot of rain tomorrow so if its rains for the whole day, it becomes a four day game. You must just wait and see,” he said.

“But if it becomes a really shortened game, three and half or four days, and its going to be wet and cold and there’s moisture around, we might not play a spinner. There’s a possibility of that.”

Du Plessis’s demeanour at the press conference on Friday differed largely from his counterpart Steve Smith, who faces increasing pressure to turn around his team’s fortunes after four straight Test defeats.

The Proteas skipper was calm and articulate in his responses and even displayed a sense of humour. It certainly gave the impression that the South African camp was a happy and united group, with the focus squarely on becoming the first team to win three consecutive Test series here in Australia since the great West Indies side of the 1980’s.

“The mood in the camp is nice and relaxed and confident after what we’ve done in Perth. But for us, it’s never to rest on that. We know we are playing a very strong team and we need to train at our best and make sure we are at our best to beat them. It’s important for us to make sure that we do our things really well. If we do that we can put some pressure on Australia.

“You’re not always going to have all 11 guys performing. It’s about trying to get the guys who are performing on the day to make contributions so they can win you a game. We had a few of those guys stand up and do that in the previous game. I’ve read a few times people saying that ‘Hash’ scored one run and that we managed to bat really well. That’s what I want this team to be about - everyone in the team to making sure that they contribute whenever the get the opportunity.”

LIKELY TEAMS FOR THE BELLERIVE OVAL

AUSTRALIA: David Warner, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (capt), Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh/ Callum Ferguson, Peter Neville (wk), Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood, Nathan Lyon, Joe Mennie.

SOUTH AFRICA: Stephen Cook, Dean Elgar, Hashim Amla, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis (capt), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj/ Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada, Kyle Abbott.

Umpires: Richard Kettleborough (Eng) Aleem Dar (Pak)

Start time: 1:30am (Saturday morning); TV: SS2

Independent Media

All the talk leading up to this second Test has been about South Africa’s supposed advantage with the old ball during their win at the WACA.

Original source: The Proteas and the old ball

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