South Africa vs Australia: First Test Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

South Africa and Australia clash in the first of four Tests starting Thursday 1 March at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead.  

Both South Africa and Australia come into this four-match encounter off the back of high profile Test series against India and England respectively. 

Strangely enough, these two sides enjoy playing each other away from home with Steve Smith and his charges hoping they repeat their win on South African soil in 2014.

South Africa vs Australia |  1 March – 5 March | Sahara Stadium Kingsmead, Durban

To Win Match
South Africa 15/10
Draw 28/10
Australia 13/10

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South Africa
The Proteas really do face an uphill battle coming into this series. Ottis Gibson – despite beating India 2-1 in their recently concluded series – will have more questions than answers at the minute. Does Heinrich Klaasen replace Quinton de Kock in the side? Will Faf du Plessis be fit for the Durban Test? Can Aiden Markram push on and grab a big score against top opposition?

This is probably the most unsettled the Proteas batting line-up has been in a long time. And with the incredibly short turnaround time between the India series and this one, Gibson and his team really don’t have much time to address these issues.

That said, the attack should be able to hit the ground running. Morne Morkel will no doubt steam in with plenty of gusto in what will be his last international series for South Africa following the announcement of his retirement earlier this week. 

Vernon Philander will need to find his rhythm nice and early against a strong Aussie top order while Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada will continue where they left off against India. Of course, Keshav Maharaj will feature heavily. Although he wasn’t particularly effective against the Indians – who are arguably the most adept players of spin in world cricket – he will likely find more joy against the Australian... especially at the three coastal venues. 


The Aussies will be buzzing following their 4-0 win over England in the Ashes and will look to put the Proteas to the sword in a similar fashion. In Steve Smith, they have the best long-format batsman on the planet within their ranks while Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, and Mitchell Starc are far and away the best pace trio out at the moment. 

The visitors have already kicked their tour of the Republic off with a closer-than-expected win against South Africa A at Benoni last week. Batting conditions were difficult at best as the wicket had been used for a first class game prior to the match. As much was evidenced with number eights Cummins and Shaun von Berg top scoring for each side respectively.

While the batsmen struggled a bit, the Australian seamers were excellent at Willowmoore Park. Starc and Cummins impressed while Hazlewood was tidy as usual. Even Smith got amongst the wickets, finishing with match figures of 5.5-0-22-2 although he is unlikely to bowl at all against the Proteas in the Tests. 

Looking ahead, the Australians are rightly favourites going into the first Test. They’re far more settled than the hosts with a slightly better pace attack on paper. Whether or not this strength will translate to a win in the first Test remains to be seen. 

Verdict: Australia 13/10
All of the smart money is on Australia at the moment. They’ve got a wonderfully balanced and settled side at the minute and should have enough to get past a spirited South African outfit. 

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Written by Jason Dewey for Hollywoodbets

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