Cricket Betting: South Africa v Australia – First Test

South Africa v Australia First Test

Thursday March 1 – 7:00pm AEDT

After comprehensively reclaiming the Ashes, Australia will look to take another step forward when they begin a four-test series against an in-form South Africa at Kingsmead on Thursday.


South Africa

The Proteas are coming off a hard-fought 2-1 series win at home against world number one India in which none of their batsmen managed to score a century. Nevertheless obstinate opener Dean Elgar enjoyed a successful series, averaging 41.40, while the experienced trio of Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and captain Faf du Plessis collected seven half-centuries between them as they all made meaningful contributions throughout.

However it was South Africa’s bowling attack which really paved the way for victory with Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada all outstanding, combining for 43 wickets at an average of 18.65. After suffering a foot injury in the first test, veteran spearhead Dale Steyn remains unavailable, while peripheral squad members Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo and Duanne Oliver have been omitted in place of all-rounder Wiaan Mulder and ‘keeper-batsman Heinrich Klaasen, both of whom will be pushing for a test debut.

The major doubts in the Proteas side surround spinner Keshav Maharaj who took only one wicket in the series against India, as well as opener Aiden Markram who failed to make it to double-figures in four of six innings’ against the Indians.

Australia

The Aussies have placed their faith in the same squad that dismantled England at home, with their pace attack also set to place a key role in this series. Against the Old Enemy, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins claimed 66 scalps at the impressive cost of 24.68 with their additional pace proving crucial on the flat Australian pitches. A point of difference was off-spinner Nathan Lyon who picked up 21 wickets at an average under 30, however it remains to be seen whether he can enjoy the same success in these conditions.

In recent times the Australians’ batting has been over reliant on Steve Smith who carved out a phenomenal Ashes series with five scores over 50 in seven innings, although Shaun Marsh showed plenty of consistency and has had success in South Africa previously, while brother Mitchell also made a very encouraging return to the test arena. Less sure of his place is opener Cameron Bancroft who managed only one-half century throughout the Ashes, although with no recognised opener in reserve he is likely to be given several chances on this tour.

Although Australia wrapped up a five-wicket win in a tour match against South Africa A, worryingly none of their top-order batsmen posted a fifty in that match.

Kingsmead

Kingsmead has not been all that kind to the hosts with the Proteas winning only one of their past seven tests there, while it’s interesting to note that the side batting first has lost only one of the past five. Despite South Africa’s unimpressive record here, mercurial middle-order batsman de Villiers has enjoyed himself in Durban, averaging 46.68 at the ground.

Key Stats

  • South Africa have won five of their past six tests.
  • South Africa have won nine of their past ten tests at home.
  • South Africa have won only one of their past seven tests at Kingsmead.
  • Australia have won only two of their last nine tests away from home.
  • Australia have drawn only one of their last 23 tests away from home.
  • Australia haven’t lost a test series in South Africa since 1970.

The Verdict

Despite an underwhelming record on foreign shores, Australia are considered slight favourites over the hosts with the draw a relative long-shot.

While it may not have been the most accomplished visiting English side, Australia displayed plenty of skill, patience and controlled aggression in their Ashes series win which should serve them well here. Historically the Aussies have always found a way to succeed in South Africa despite typically being poor travellers and their pace battery looks set for another stellar series, although plenty of question marks remain around their batting, especially with the ball set to move more off the pitch and in the air than it does at home.

With former skipper Graeme Smith now well into retirement and Dale Steyn seemingly headed down the same path, the Proteas have taken significant strides to re-establishing themselves amongst test cricket’s elite with a formidable batting line-up, backed up by an irresistible pace unit. As far as the bowling attacks are concerned, where South Africa may have the edge is in depth with Lungisani Ngidi stepping forward impressively in the last two tests against India, helping the Proteas maintain a near-impregnable record at home.

Quite rightfully the draw has been given short shrift by the punters with neither side showing a propensity for playing out a stalemate, although some variable weather forecast for the back end of the test suggests that we should keep it onside.

When I look at the prices I feel that the market has given too much weight to South Africa’s poor record at Kingsmead and Australia’s history of success in South Africa. As illustrated in the tour match, the Australian’s batting looks vulnerable in these conditions against a quality attack and while the Aussies’ own pace-bowling brigade should do some damage, they face a far more established batting line-up with a wealth of experience on these pitches.

The Proteas overwhelming record at home should also not be ignored, and while Durban has not been kind to them in the past I simply cannot have Australia as favourites at this stage. With the weather possibly set to have an influence here, the clear plan is to take on Australia and trust that the market has got it wrong by installing the visitors as jollies.

Betting Strategy

 LAY  – Australia at 2.56 or better for 2 units


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