Presumably having sorted out apartheid, South Africa finally get to play some international cricket, taking on an Australian side that have barely had time to enjoy a Tim Tam slam in the past couple of months*.
It’s been so long since we saw South Africa play that we genuinely can’t remember what happened in their last game. Presumably they choked massively against someone, probably after misunderstanding the rules. Regardless, it’s time for a fresh start under a new (stand-in) captain: Hashim Amla, owner of the best captain’s beard in international cricket (but only due to Daniel Vettori stepping down as NZ skipper).
Despite AB de Villiers’ absence through injury, South Africa are still likely to have plenty of experience, both with bat – as well as Amla and Graeme Smith at the top of the order, JP Duminy is likely to continue his disappointing international career – and ball, with Morne Morkel, Johan Botha and Lopsy Tsotsobe all firmly established. It’s likely to be very much business as usual. Which is an odd thing to say about a side we can’t remember watching.
In contrast, Australia are still very much in their rebuilding phase, particularly in terms of their bowling attack. With Brett Lee (injured) and Mitchell Johnson (useless) both missing, there’s likely to be a debut for 18 year old Patrick Cummins. Of course, in years gone by he’d have actually bowled at domestic level before going into the national side, but such is Australian cricket at the moment. He’s likely to be assisted by the likes of James Pattinson and Steve O’Keefe and possibly even Steve Smith, whose occasional legbreaks and hideous batting technique make him ideal for T20 cricket. It means there’s likely to be a lot of pressure on Doug Bollinger as the senior bowler.
With the bat things are a bit more settled. David Warner was in excellent nick at the CLT20, in stark contrast to his opening partner Shane Watson. Cameron White is rarely quiet in T20 and there’s also an opportunity in the middle order for wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, with Tim Paine apparently from the Nasser Hussain school of fingers.
Apparently the Cape Town pitch will suit the spinners, so we’re backing Johan Botha and Robin Peterson to outbowl Australia’s phalanx of cack-handed slower men. South Africa to win comfortably.
*Other Penguin-style biscuits are available.