Australia v South Africa Second Test
Saturday November 12 , 10:30am AEDT
After being stunned by a spectacular South African fightback in Perth, Australia will be hoping that they can restore parity with victory over the Proteas in the second test at Bellerive Oval, beginning on Saturday.
The hosts could not have hoped for a more dominant day one at the WACA, dismissing South Africa for 242 before racing to 105 without loss at stumps. However the match took a swift turn on day two as Australia experienced an all too familiar batting collapse, before the visitors asserted their authority with a third innings total of 8/540, setting the Aussies an unlikely target of 539 to win. Australia ultimately fell 177 runs short and never looked likely to bat out the required overs for a draw either, which meant that they lost the opening test of the home summer for the first time since 1988.
On the bright side David Warner looked in menacing touch, with a sparkling 97 in the first innings backed up by a quick-fire 35 in the second which was only terminated by an incredible run out. There were also some encouraging signs in the forlorn fourth innings from Usman Khawaja (97) and wicket-keeper Peter Nevill (60 not out) who both enjoyed a return to form.
After disciplined bowling and sharp catching in the first innings, the home side were profligate with the ball and sloppy in the field in the second innings as off-spinner Nathan Lyon endured a particularly tough time, returning match figures of 2/184 from 44 overs. However it is Peter Siddle who appears to have borne the brunt of the punishment after he was ruled out with back soreness and looks set to be replaced by Joe Mennie in Hobart. The Aussies will also be without opener Shaun Marsh (broken finger) which has resulted in a recall for Joe Burns, while middle-order batsman Callum Ferguson has also been drafted into the squad, possibly as cover for Adam Voges who experienced hamstring soreness. Ferguson may also displace much maligned all-rounder Mitchell Marsh who is running out of chances following another underwhelming showing at the WACA.
South Africa’s victory in Perth was all the more remarkable as not only did they claw their way back from a perilous position, but they did so without spearhead Dale Steyn who left the field on the second morning with a fractured shoulder and was subsequently ruled out for the series. In Steyn’s absence 21-year-old whizz-kid Kagiso Rabada stepped up to plate, taking 5/92 in the second innings to claim man of the match honours. Rabada received outstanding support from fellow youngster Keshav Maharaj who bowled with excellent control and finished with four wickets in the match to cap a tidy debut.
The Proteas only really grabbed the ascendancy after an exceptional partnership between Dean Elgar (127) and JP Duminy (141) who rode through a tough period to grind down the Australian bowlers and build what turned out to be an insurmountable lead. The hard work of Elgar and Duminy was complemented by some effective hitting down the order, especially from talented keeper-batsman Quinton de Kock who struck 64 in the first innings after his classy knock of 84 in the first dig ensured that the Proteas were not bowled out for less than 200 on day one.
On the other side of the coin Hashim Amla had a match he’d rather forget, with scores of 0 and 1 topped off by two dropped catches in the slips. Opener Stephen Cook also continued his disappointing tour with twin failures of 0 and 12, leading to suggestions that Rilee Rossouw could be brought into the side with de Kock possibly being elevated to the top of the order. Workhorse Kyle Abbott has been tipped to come in for Steyn, with fellow paceman Morne Morkel yet to prove his fitness and new squad addition Dwyane Pretorius down the pecking order. A win for South Africa at Bellerive would secure their third consecutive series win in Australia
In test matches, Bellerive Oval has generally favoured the batsmen from ball one with three of the last four first innings totals coming in at 4/583, 5/450 and 8/519. That was backed up by first innings scores of 7/600, 8/433 and 8/432 in last season’s Sheffield Shield, however it’s worth noting that the last six tests and all of last season’s Shield games produced a result so the pitch does tend to deteriorate. The hosts will be especially upset to be missing Siddle as he has taken 22 wickets in four tests at Hobart at the impressive average of 15.72.
- Australia has not lost consecutive tests at home since 2010/11
- Australia has lost only one of 12 tests at Bellerive Oval
- When batting first Australia has scored over 500 in eight of their last 12 tests, including their last four straight
- South Africa have lost only one of their past seven tests in Australia
- South Africa’s win in Perth was their first in their last seven away tests
- South Africa have won their last eight matches in all formats
Heavy rain is being forecast for the first two days in Hobart which has seen the draw steam into favouritism with the home side still considered more likely to eke out a result than the visitors, despite the way the first test played out.
The market’s faith in Australia is underpinned by their phenomenal record at home and while recent efforts both locally and abroad have been punctuated by batting collapses, a closer look reveals that when they’ve had the opportunity to bat first they’ve made the most of it, compiling scores of 500 or more in their last four tests. However it’s difficult to have sufficient faith in the Aussies given that they have lost ten of their past 17 matches in all formats, including their last six straight, while captain Steve Smith is the only player in the squad to have scored a century in Australia’s last four tests.
Conversely South Africa are coming off an astounding win in Perth and have won their last eight matches across all formats so they have plenty of confidence coming into the match. Their recent record purely in the longer form is not so strong, however they have a habit of finding form in Australian conditions as evidenced via the performances of young guns Rabada, Maharaj, de Kock and Temba Bavuma. I can accept that the market still considers them underdogs, however the margin between their price and that of the hosts seems erroneous, so getting with the Proteas is certainly an angle to be entertained.
The forecast certainly makes things tricky as while it seems there will be overs lost, the prevailing conditions when they do manage to get on will likely favour the bowlers, so we may not see the usual first innings stampede from the batting side at Bellerive which makes the chances of a draw tough to assess. So rather than trying to predict what Mother Nature will produce, I suggest we take the draw out of the equation by exploring the Draw No Bet market and it is here where we can try to exploit that discrepancy between the two sides’ implied chances of victory.
South Africa are the form side and having won in Perth despite minimal contributions from a couple of their star players they have plenty of upside and as such I have no hesitation in being with them pre-match. However given that Australia have not lost consecutive tests at home in six years and have a particularly impressive record at the ground I will look to trade out of my position at the right price, especially as so many tests between these two sides have featured wild swings in momentum.