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Who will the joke be on in Adelaide?

Hashim Amla made an error, and then corrected it. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Roar Guru
22nd November, 2016
15

“The reason everybody is here is to stand together and to show solidarity to what has been something we actually thought was a joke.”

This is exactly what South Africa’s Hashim Amla had to say last week about the ball tampering allegation against his captain Faf du Plessis.

On Tuesday, du Plessis was fined over the incident that occurred in the second Test.

Regardless of what anyone thinks of the mint-saga, it was quite clear after Amla addressed the media that South Africa still values their Protea fire legacy; a legacy that instils deep in the heart of every South African cricketer, the foremost need to stand behind their captain, or any player needing a hand.

All the South Africans were trying to do was back their captain and send a strong message that the snarky Australian media is at fault.

And to be honest, they have succeeded a long way in doing that.

As cricinfo’s Melinda Farrell suggested in one of her recent articles, maybe it is the laws of the game that should be more heavily examined than du Plessis.

If du Plessis is guilty of ball tampering for shining the ball with his saliva-soaked mint, then what about the use of hair gels and sunscreens, which players normally use while taking the field? Chewing a mint has perhaps been done by everyone.

But now comes the important question – after all this fuss, what’s going to happen in Adelaide?

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Australia made the changes that the thousands of ‘selectors’ around the country called for; they brought Matthew Renshaw, Matthew Wade, Peter Handscomb, Nic Maddinson, Jackson Bird and Chadd Sayers into the squad.

Yet, will it change the result in Adelaide?

Perhaps not.

In all probability, now that du Plessis has retained his place as captain, he would definitely go with two spinners in Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj. Either Vernon Philander or Kyle Abbott is sure to miss out.

Along with the SCG and MCG, the Adelaide Oval always comes to the aid of the spinners from the fourth day onwards. Playing with two spinners on a flat Adelaide pitch would give them a favoured response.

Though the pitch will be expected to be true to the batsmen too, having a left arm chinaman spinner up their sleeve might turn out to be decisive.

So does Australia have a chinaman spinning option?

No.

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While Steve Smith is still growing as a leader, du Plessis has shown a penchant for making some shrewd and bold decisions on the field.

Had he been suspended for Adelaide, the job would have been much easier for the Australians.

South Africa’s pacemen will be high on confidence after the first two Tests. Their quality as of now looks a couple of notches higher than the Australian pace attack, with the exclusion of Josh Hazlewood.

So can Mitchell Starc, Hazlewood, and Jackson Bird dictate the terms of the match?

That depends on the toss.

If South Africa bat first, the Australians will be up against the wall, as their inexperienced batsmen would have to later come up against Shamsi and Maharaj.

If Australia loses in Adelaide, the joke would not be on Faf du Plessis or Hashim Amla or even Rod Marsh; the joke would be on us, the people who have called for such drastic changes and vented our abject feelings against South Africa’s stand-in-skipper.

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