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Australia vs South Africa preview: Why this series is bigger than a home Ashes

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Roar Rookie
13th December, 2022

I’m looking forward to this upcoming Test series against South Africa, more so even than an Ashes series in Australia. Big call!

The reason that I’m looking forward to this series is the fact that Australia haven’t won a home series against South Africa since 2005-06.

Out of the last three series South Africa have won in Australia they’ve won two of them before the final game. In 2008-09 they won the series 2-1. In the 2012-13 series they won 1-0, and in 2016 they triumphed 2-1, which speaks to the dominance they’ve had over the baggy greens.

Despite the series dominance, however, many of the Tests were closely contested.

I understand the Ashes is a different series entirely. It’s five Test matches not three for starters. However, in the case of the last three home Ashes series, Australia have led 3-0 after three Tests.

I enjoy Australia winning the Ashes, don’t get me wrong, but looking at past results against South Africa, Australia has a lot to prove in this upcoming series. A big reason that South Africa and Australia play in closely contested series is that both sides play in the same home conditions.

This year South Africa have the fast bowling stocks that can worry Australia. Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Marco Jansen and Anrich Nortje all bowl over 145km/ph. It’ll be interesting to see how Australia cope with this pace attack.


India demonstrated on their last tour down under that Australia is vulnerable to fast bowling. The MCG pitch has shown more life than it has done previously. Hopefully, it facilitates two very strong pace attacks.

Australia has a much more settled batting line-up than against India. Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith and Travis Head all come into this Test series in good form. Although, they’ll be facing much sterner opposition than that provided by the West Indies in the recent Test.

Smith will no doubt want to put in a good performance after Sandpapergate.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 01: Steve Smith of Australia bats during day two of the First Test match between Australia and the West Indies at Optus Stadium on December 01, 2022 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

(Photo by Quinn Rooney – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

David Warner could find it more challenging as he is struggling for form and the added attention could make it more difficult for him. Australia have brought Marcus Harris into the squad, however I doubt he plays instead of Warner.

No Josh Hazlewood for Australia is a worry. He missed the second Test during the Ashes series and then didn’t play for the rest of the summer. There are sufficient replacements for him, though, with Michael Neser and Scott Boland who both played against the West Indies and the untried Lance Morris, the quick bowler from Western Australia.

Australia might well use a “horses for courses” method playing Neser who plays for Queensland at the Gabba and Boland who is a Victorian at the MCG. Whichever way they go they’ll have confidence that they can get 20 wickets.

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Mitchell Starc has become the consistent fast bowler for Australia, currently sitting on 296 Test wickets and closing in on 300. By the end of this series Starc could be in the top five wicket-takers for Australia in Test matches, overtaking former greats Brett Lee (310) and Mitchell Johnson (313). This would be a fantastic achievement for someone who has been criticised throughout his career.

All of these ingredients set it up for a very exciting series. Hopefully, Australia can change their fortunes from previous tournaments and still be alive heading into the last Test match.