Australia vs South Africa ODI series preview
On Friday the 5-match ODI series between Australia and South Africa kicks off, and both sides will be looking to test out some options before February’s ICC World Cup. The series is extra important for South Africa as this is probably their last chance to play in Australia before the World Cup, and they will probably relish the opportunity to give stars such as Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Quinton de Kock, Dale Steyn and all of their formidable attack a run-through on the Australian wickets. For Australia, however, this series presents an opportunity to test out some of their pacemen, and for Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Kane Richardson this presents a perfect opportunity to press their respective claims before the World Cup. With Brad Haddin’s shoulder injury ruling him out indefinitely Matthew Wade has a serious chance to firmly establish himself as the next best keeper.
Australia: Michael Clarke (c), George Bailey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steven Smith, Matthew Wade (wk), David Warner, Shane Watson.
South Africa: AB de Villiers (c/wk), Hashim Amla (vc), Kyle Abbott, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), Faf du Plessis, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir.
The Australians have named a side that should combine competition for places within with a very competitive output. The middle order of Steve Smith, Michael Clarke and George Bailey is very strong, as is the dynamic opening pairing of Aaron Finch and David Warner. This series presents a chance for all-rounders such as Mitch Marsh, Glenn Maxwell and Shane Watson to cement a place in the side before the World Cup, although Maxwell already seems assured due to his more-than-handy off spin. For Coulter-Nile, Hazlewood and Richardson, all of whom have showed great form in recent domestic competitions, this series provides an opportunity to obtain the last places in the bowling attack. While there is not much competition in the middle order Watson and Marsh will be seriously pushing to take one of those slots.
Likely team: Finch, Warner, Watson, Clarke/Bailey, Smith/Marsh, Maxwell, Wade, Johnson, Richardson, Coulter-Nile, Hazlewood.
The South African squad is very near full strength, and while I think that there will still be some experimentation, particularly in the middle-order and bowling attack, the side will be hard to beat. Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock form a brilliant opening partnership, and no-one is going to challenge their place in the side. The same goes for AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis, and although they could be rested to give players an opportunity in the middle-order it seems unlikely that they will not be picked. In the middle order David Miller, Rilee Rossouw and Farhaan Behardien will all be looking for a big series, especially as first-choice middle-order player JP Duminy is out with injury. With Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and Ryan McLaren all likely to stay in the first-team throughout the World Cup, there is lots of competition for not many spots. Spinners Robin Peterson and Imran Tahir probably have the best chance of getting a spot in the team but if pacemen Kyle Abbott and Wayne Parnell play well enough they could replace one of the first choice fast bowlers. As it stand Steyn, Morkel and probably Philander will probably be rotated throughout the series to allow the others a chance to prove themselves.
Likely team: Amla, de Kock, de Villiers/Rossouw, du Plessis, de Villiers/Miller, Behardien, McLaren, Parnell/Peterson, Abbott/Parnell, Tahir/Steyn, Tahir/Morkel.
I think that this series will be very close, as both sides have got some really great players. I think that the South Africans should come out on top due to their batting but it would take a lot to write off this Australian side completely.