SA, Australia batters face pace barrage

ADELAIDE – Top order batsmen will face a “baptism of fire” in South Africa’s upcoming tour “Down Under” as the world’s two best pace line-ups face off, Australian coach Mickey Arthur said on Tuesday .

Report by Sapa

Australia are hoping to reclaim cricket’s World No 1 ranking over a packed Test schedule in the year ahead, starting with the first of three against top-ranked South Africa in Brisbane on November 9.

“It’s going to be about the batters,” Arthur said of the series.

“It is going to be about which top six can adapt better, which top six is going to be more consistent over the three Test series. I think both top sixes are in for a real baptism of fire.”

Arthur said the ability of the Australian batsmen to hold off South Africa’s bowling line-up, which includes pacemen Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander, was an opportunity to prove themselves.

On Australia’s side, selector John Inverarity said there could be as many as five pace bowlers in the squad for the first test at the Gabba, with James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus and Mitchell Starc all in the mix.

“We’re just delighted that we’ve got the pace bowling on tap that we have,” Inverarity said.

The toughest choice for Australian selectors will be that of wicket-keeper and whether to name the more experienced Brad Haddin over Matthew Wade.

“We are aware of all the factors; I mean the fact that Matthew is 24 and rising and Brad turns 35 about now,” Inverarity said.

“Obviously Matthew is more for the future, but we’re very focused on who deserves and who will be best against South Africa.”

Cricket Australia also defended its decision to withdraw Shane Watson midway through the Twenty20 Champions League in South Africa to have the all-rounder fresh and rested for the upcoming Test campaign at home.

“We need Shane to be best prepared for that first Test match,” Arthur said of Watson (31) who has proven himself with bat and ball in all forms of cricket and is a star of the Indian Premier League.

“For us right now his best preparation is coming back and playing some red-ball cricket.”

South-African born Arthur admitted there was an extra incentive for him to “get one over” the Proteas in the upcoming series.

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