SA squad: Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Alviro Petersen, Robbie Peterson, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Thami Tsolekile
South Africa have left out the talented Quinton de Kock and instead gone for Thami Tsolekile in what can only be described as a transformation move. Thami is a great player but he hasn’t played a test in the past 10 years and its unlikely he will feature against an Australian side on a high. Tahir has been dropped and Robbie Petersen along with JP will offer the spin options.
Test squad Michael Clarke (capt), Brad Haddin (vice-capt), Jackson Bird, Alex Doolan, James Faulkner, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, David Warner, Shane Watson.
Australia are on a high after annihilating England in the ashes and despite their warm up game rained off, will be keen to maintain the 44 year unbeaten in a test series in SA streak.
Kevin Pietersen has been dropped permanently from the England setup after England’s complete humiliation in Australia. Some chap called Paul Downton called the meeting to decide the fate of the cricketing great KP. The ECB has yet to disclose to the public or Kevin himself the reason for his sacking. Kevin Pietersen has been quoted as saying. “Playing cricket for my country has been an honour, although I am obviously very sad the incredible journey has come to an end, I’m also hugely proud of what we, as a team, have achieved over the past nine years. I feel extremely fortunate to have played at a time of great success for England cricket alongside some of the best cricketers the country has ever produced.
I want to thank everyone for their fantastic support and I wish the team the very best of success going forward. I have a great deal to give as a cricketer and I will continue to play but deeply regret it won’t be for England” Mark Boucher tweeted “Times must be good to leave out your best player! Sad day for the game” Piers Morgan, one of KP’s biggest advocates has let his feelings be known on twitter calling current captain Cook “a repulsive little weasel”
Paul Downton stated “Clearly this was a tough decision because Kevin has been such an outstanding player for England, as the fact that he is the country’s leading run-scorer in international cricket demonstrates, However everyone was aware that there was a need to begin the long-term planning after the Australia tour. Therefore we have decided the time is right to look to the future and start to rebuild not only the team but also team ethic and philosophy.”
It is interesting to see the words ethic and philosophy in Downton’s statement – KP has been known to have an incredibly high work ethic and an attitude to match. England were brought down to earth with a 11-1 thrashing in all formats of the game. After the tests KP was asked to “recover and take a break” during the ODI’s and despite KP not being there for the second half of the tour, England management have decided that they need to rebuild England without a man that has helped them immeasurably throughout his career. There is the T20 in 4 weeks, the world cup next year and the ashes in 18 months time, so the rebuilding phase will be quick and the candidate to fill the boots of Kevin Pietersen must be known to the selectors, who have done a remarkable job of hiding him from the public.
Pietersen’s nine-year international career saw him establish himself as one of the world’s leading batsmen, with a Test tally of 8181 runs at an impressive average of 47.28 in 104 matches. During the Ashes debacle, Pietersen was still England’s top scorer in the series
Some highlights from his career:
- KP made 158 on the final day of the last test at the Oval cricket ground in the 2005 Ashes, securing England a first Ashes triumph in 18 years. He was awarded an MBE in 2005 presumably for his contribution to the England team.
- In 2010 he was named player of the tournament on the way to helping England win the ICC World T20.
- Whilst playing for England in the 2013 Ashes series, by making a match-saving 113 Kevin became the highest run scorer for England from all forms of the game. England went on to win the series making Kevin a four time Ashes winner.
Australians will be surfacing in the morning knowing that in 18 months there should be another 5-0 ashes lesson handed out if the attitude of dropping your best players continues.
South Africa’s A.B. de Villiers is facing a race against time to be fit for the upcoming Test series against Australia, with the wicket-keeper batsman recovering from surgery on a hand injury.
De Villiers, who is currently the number one ICC Test batsman, was forced to have an operation at the start of the year and could now go into the three Test series against the in-form Aussies without playing a game since the Boxing Day Test against India.
The 29-year old was forced to miss the South African Twenty20 competition after sustaining the injury to his hand, but de Villers has insisted he is confident he will be fit and ready for the first Test on February 9.
De Villiers was instrumental in South Africa’s 1-0 series success against Australia last year, hitting a sensational 169 in the third Test to upset the cricket betting odds and take the game away from Michael Clarke’s team.
While South Africa are the current number one Test team in the world, having De Villiers 100% healthy could be critical to the Proteas hopes of maintaining their recent dominance of the five-day game.
Coming off the back of their incredible 5-0 Ashes whitewash of England, a development that surprised many fans of cricket betting, Australia will arrive in South Africa with a level of confidence that has been absent from the team since the end of the Warne-McGrath-Hayden et al era.
And de Villiers has admitted he is expecting a tough three Tests against the Aussies: “I’m looking forward to a massive series against Australia. They’re playing really good cricket, but there’s no reason for us to stand back. We beat them the last time we played, but it’s been a while since we beat them in South Africa,” admitted the South African ODI captain.
South Africa are preparing for a home series against Australia, which gets underway next month. The first of three Tests begins on February 12 at the SuperSport Park in Centurion between two of the in-form teams in world cricket.
Later in the month, the sides will meet again at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth, while the Third Test takes place at Newlands in Cape Town.
Australia come into this series after winning the Ashes against their foes, England. They were successful in claiming the urn following a 5-0 whitewash scoreline on home soil, a result that surprised many betting pundits.
Michael Clarke’s men are currently involved in a one-day series before they travel across. Their first game in Africa will come against a South African Invitational XI, which will act as a warm-up tie before the opening Test.
The last time the two sides met in Test cricket was in 2012 in Australia as the Proteas came away with a 1-0 series win. The first two matches in Brisbane and Adelaide were both drawn, but they were successful in Perth to seal the series.
South Africa were also winners of their recent series against India. They played two matches against the visitors. In the First Test, they almost completed a world record chase but ran out of time in a draw. Their target was 458 in the second innings, in which they finished on 450/7.
They did though wrap up the series in a 10 wicket success in Durban in the Boxing Day Test. India were bowled out for 334 and 223, while the hosts made 500 in their opening innings and completed the job at 50/0 next time at the crease.
South Africa will start as the 4/5 favourites in the cricket betting to continue their unbeaten run in the format of the game.
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