Faf du Plessis and the rest of the Proteas will be keen to complete the whitewash against the Australians at the Adelaide Oval this week.
It’s been a tumultuous week for Faf du Plessis and his South African side. Lollygate has seen the Australian public baying for blood while local reporters have also done their best to unsettle the South African captain.
Amid all of this drama, however, there’s still a day/night Test to be played later this week at the Adelaide Oval. Can the Proteas secure the series whitewash or will a boatload of new caps offer the Australian batting line-up a bit more buoyancy in troubled waters? Let’s find out:
Australia vs South Africa | Thursday 24 Nov – Monday 28 Nov | Adelaide Oval, Australia
To Win Match
Australia 16/10 | Draw 4/1 | South Africa 1/1
The biggest issue South Africa have heading into the third and final Test is whether or not their captain will be available for selection. His hearing is being conducted as I write this, following allegations that he used ‘artificial substances’ to gain an ‘unfair advantage’ in the second Test in Hobart.
The furore around the issue was compounded when du Plessis was harassed in the Adelaide Airport. An overly-zealous Channel Nine reporter tried to force his way past South African security to get a comment from du Plessis (following CSA’s statement that no questions would be answered). Security staff intervened and the reporter shoved away several times by Zunaid Wadee before finally giving up.
Anyway, I’ve just read that Faf has been cleared to play although he was fined his entire match fee for the incident. Looking ahead to the match, I think the Proteas will be doubly fired up for following the week that they’ve endured. The charges weren’t unfair, however, the constant media barrage would have come as an annoyance.
Even the usually placid Hashim Amla tweeted the following: “Disappointed.. such provocative behaviour from reporters. Let a man walk in peace. Ask with manners n courtesy and u prob will get a response.) (sic)
Looking ahead to the Test, I don’t think we’ll see any changes to the South African XI. That said, I’d love to see Rilee Rossouw come into the squad for Stephen Cook. The Lions opener hasn’t been good this series and his partnership with Dean Elgar is a bit uninspiring. Both score too far too slowly the top of the order.
The Rossouw / Elgar combination could work similarly to the David Warner / Chris Rogers partnership of a few years ago. Elgar to consolidate and anchor and Rossouw to score quickly, putting pressure on opposition bowlers.
The middle order doesn’t need to be tinkered with although Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis will be desperate to get among the runs. The two most senior batsmen in the South African line-up have only managed 98 runs between them in the series. A bit more will be required of the pair in Adelaide.
I wouldn’t play around with the bowling attack at all. The unit that got the job done in Hobart should be trusted to do the same in Adelaide. Tabraiz Shamsi could possibly crack the nod ahead of Keshav Maharaj after his four-for in the Proteas’ pink ball warm-up match against a Victoria XI earlier this week.
Where to now for Australia? They’ve been comprehensively beaten in the first two Tests following some truly amateurish batting displays. Matt Renshaw, Peter Handscomb, Nic Maddinson, Chadd Sayers (all on debut), Jackson Bird and Matthew Wayde have been thrown in the deep end.
Their inclusions come at the expense of Adam Voges (who was concussed playing Shield cricket this week), Joe Burns, Peter Nevill and Joe Mennie. The wholesale changes reek of desperation – but you can hardly blame Australian selectors for wanting to change things up following what has been a calamitous 2016.
I was quite surprised to see Nevill dropped for Wade. He was one of the few players who stood out in the first two Tests. His innings in the first Test in which he batted for 233 minutes for a patient 60 shows his patience and ability to occupy the crease for large periods of time. Something that the Australian has been sorely lacking over the last two weeks.
Renshaw, Handscomb and Maddinson will be worth keeping an eye out for. None have ever played in the Test arena, earning call-ups following some fine performances over the last two season of Sheffield Shield cricket.
Handscomb has managed 932 runs at an average of 44.38 over the last two summers making the number 4 position at Victoria his own. He’s also managed to get 137 runs against South Africa A after bagging scores of 87 and 91 against India A on the Sub-Continent.
Renshaw – just 20 years old – is probably the most interesting of the three openers. He’s only played 12 First Class matches at an average of 44.39. He showed just how good he can be last time out as his Queensland side cruised to a 128-run victory over South Australia. Renshaw bagged 108 and 50 in his two innings – one to keep an eye on.
Maddinson is bit of strange pick. He’s only played two Shield games this season scoring 116 and 0 against Western Australia before he managed a paltry 39 in his two innings against Victoria. Known for his ability to score quickly, he might not be the best option going forward in a side that’s prone to big collapses.
Nathan Lyon retains his place alongside Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc while Sayers who is something of an Adelaide Oval specialist will get a chance with the ball against the South Africans.
Verdict: South Africa 1/1
Australian cricket is in turmoil at the moment and the Proteas won’t need a second invitation to twist the knife in Adelaide. Back the clearly superior South Africans to claim victory in their 'Pink Ball' debut this week.
Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.