Shane Warne has backed Australia to win the upcoming Test cricket series against South Africa, but only because they are the home team.
The leg-spin legend said on Tuesday there is very little separating Australia, South Africa, England and India – and perhaps Sri Lanka as well when they are at home.
The three-Test series against South Africa starts on November 9 at the `Gabba in Brisbane.
“When you’re at home, you’re expected to win,” Warne said.
“There’s no real standout side for me.
“Anyone can beat anyone and when it’s at home, I would expect Australia to beat South Africa.
“It will be a great contest – it will be the bowlers who are on display for both teams, they will really test the batsmen’s techniques.
“Young (James) Pattinson is really on fire here at the moment.”
Warne expects Victorian Matthew Wade to be named wicketkeeper for the first Test, but said there could also be room in the side for fellow gloveman Brad Haddin.
“Brad Haddin is a good friend and he’s done well, but maybe there’s a spot for him as a batsman,” Warne said.
“Whichever way the selectors go will be fine, but I think Matthew Wade will probably get the nod.”
While Jon Holland is out with a shoulder injury, Warne also predictably called on selectors to pick a spinner in the first Test team.
“I mean, c’mon, you always play a spinner no matter what the conditions are,” he said with a grin.
Warne added it was a shame Holland could be a long-term casualty because of his shoulder injury, which might need surgery.
“Jon Holland is a big loss, I had him pencilled in about 12-18 months ago that he and Nathan Lyon would be on the Ashes (tour) next year,” he said.
“I was hopeful that both would play, especially with the balance of the team when you have guys like Shane Watson, Mitchell Marsh who could play as allrounders.
“It’s a real big loss to lose `Dutchy’ (Holland), he’s really improved.”
Warne called for patience with the current crop of Australian spinners, saying it would take time for them to develop.
He said the strength of Australia’s pace bowling meant the spinners could bide their time.
“When the times comes, when the pitches start to `rag’ … then that’s when it’s pay day for them,” he said.
But Warne is unimpressed about the lack of wrist spinners coming through Australian cricket, blaming it on impatience at junior level.
“I don’t want to bang my chest … it would be a long conversation, but to try to have it in a minute or two – it’s hard,” he said.
“You need encouragement and sometimes the captaincy at junior level that I found with a lot of the kids … they get smacked around the park, they bowl a few double-bouncers, the encouragement’s not there.”