SA vs AUS: A Similar Story

With England brushed aside without barely raising a sweat, the Australian test team head to South Africa for a challenge on another level to the broken pommy side that never even started its engine on Aussie turf.

Funnily enough, we were presented with a similar situation 14 months earlier, when South Africa toured Australia and came up against a confident Australian team who were unbeaten in their 7 previous tests against the West Indies and India. We did a bit of a form analysis of that series here. As perhaps slightly predicted in that article, that series was dead even until the final test, when the fumbling selectors decided to completely dismantle the Aussie pace attack, which was identified as our key strength. The series was subsequently lost 1-0.

Now the Australia side find themselves in a very similar position to this moment in late 2012. Confidence is soaring after belting England 5-0 and again it is the pace attack that is leading the charge. Amazingly, half the side that South Africa took on in that series has been moved on.

Below, I’ve done some similar stats to that article 14 months ago and taken averages from tests since the beginning of 2013. Australia’s batting is in very similar position. It has shown signs of improvement but make no mistake – the holes are still there. Michael Clarke hasn’t been in as prolific form as he was back then, which makes the form look a little weaker here. South Africa on the other hand are led by 4 gun performers – Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis. They are a clear shining light and its going to be a huge challenge for the Aussie bowlers to peg these guys back. De Villiers average of 78 in his last 9 tests in incredible.

South Africa’s bowling is extremely similar to last time. Led by Vernon Philander and Dale Steyne who have amazing averages, they then require backup from the reliable Morne Morkel and a token struggling spinning – this time it looks like Robin Peterson is the man. Kallis is a notable omission this time around. Australia are almost identical to the Saffers. Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris have superb averages, they are backed up by the reliable Peter Siddle. Lyon is much more than a struggling spinner however, he has certainly been doing his job of late and is a strong part of the Aussie attack. Watson has been out of sorts with his bowling in recent times, which is understandable considering his injury struggles.

So where will this series by won? Australia’s bowling line-up appears to be set and the stupid rotation policy out the window, so one would think that they will be a constant force through the series. It comes down to: can the Aussie pace break the South African star batsmen, as they did with England? And can the questionable Australian batting order stand up and weather the number 1 pace attack in the world?

Prediction: 2-1 South Africa

Australia Batting
Warner – 37.64
Rogers – 43.68
Watson – 34.48
Clarke – 44.36
S Smith – 39.66
Haddin – 39.47
Johnson – 20.22
Harris – 21.60
Siddle – 13.00
Lyon – 21.66

Australia Bowling
Johnson – 16.72
Harris – 19.45
Siddle – 29.24
Watson – 50.16
Lyon – 34.57

South Africa Batting
G Smith – 50.07
Amla 57.54
de Villiers – 77.75
Duminy – 16.50
A Petersen – 33.69
du Plessis – 44.45
R Peterson – 34.14
Philander – 28.85
Steyne – 17.28

South Africa Bowling
Philander – 18.05
Steyne – 17.66
M Morkel – 27.42
R Peterson – 40.80

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