Disappointingly, the alternative title for this article is Final Test: Preview. Even before the first match, we were annoyed that the ‘series’ (can only two of something form a series?) was so short; after the fun and farce of that game in Cape Town, it seems downright disheartening.
Johannesburg is hosting this second Test; recent matches have always ended in results – the last draw at the Wanderers was rain-affected and more than a decade ago. The weatherpeople forecast daily heavy showers, so there may be a race against time, but the ground does have a very efficient drainage system. The pitch tends to favour seam over spin, but can offer a good contest between bat and ball.
There is much hype surrounding the latest Australian rookie, Pat Cummins, who may well debut. With three first-class matches under his belt (nine wickets at 46.33) he is the very definition of raw- but he is also quick and powerful. The performances and the statistics from Cape Town suggest Mitchell Johnson should be dropped, but no doubt Andrew Hilditch & Co. will discard Peter Siddle instead.
Australia are also forced to make one change to their batting because Shaun Marsh is still injured. David Warner has been called into the squad but Usman Khawaja was the original back-up selection and is probably more likely to play.
Meanwhile we’d have expected South Africa to remain unchanged, but rumours are circulating that Paul Harris will be recalled to replace Imran Tahir. Nonetheless, the strength of their pace attack – especially now that Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are supported by Vernon Philander – means that we’re backing them to win. But whatever happens, come Monday evening we’ll be wishing there was more cricket to follow.