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Pretenders or Contenders

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So the Kangaroos are in the Springbok land. Not so long ago the Kangaroos were the Emperors but once their lost their Crown jewels, they never looked as majestic. The Crown has since then been taken away and tossed around amongst the contenders but there is not on worthy successor in sight. The Boks, not so long ago, seemed like the rightful successors to the Roos but somewhere down the line they struggled to swallow the expectations and were never really able to get both their hands on the Crown.
 
The time has come for both the sides to make the claim for the top spot. What better way than to beat the other on the way up? Without ABD in the ranks Saffers do seem to have a bit of disadvantage as this is Amla’s first series as a skipper. But with Kallis and JP being if prime form during the CLT20 and Amla himself playing on a different level, ABD will be missed but not that much. Plus Smith is on hiscomeback trail and would love to prove he is up for a fight again. Miller and Faf need to wake up to the threat from Ingram and Smuts and this just might be their last chance to cement their spot in the side. Peterson and Botha will not worry the Oz as much but Tahir could be the man to wreck their hopes. We all saw what he can do in the World Cup but how well he fares in not so friendly conditions will be a test of his talent and character. Boucher’s selection shows the absence of any outstanding keeping talent in SA domestic cricket and SA might be in for the same struggle as the Aussies soon. Morne has proven that he is the best bowler in his family and he has formed a great partnership with Steyn but he must fight to keep TTO or Parnell from snatching the new ball from him. Both TTO and Parnell are talented but they are nowhere near Steyn in terms of class and that could be a weak link.
 
Australia on the other hand are still searching for the right partner for Watson. Haddin, Warner, and Marsh have all been tried. Haddin is not at all convincing as an opener and perhaps Warner and Marsh need to be given a longer run though Marsh looks more like a good number 3. Warner has been in blistering form in the CLT20 but doing the same at the international level is a different ball game altogether. But on paper the Australians definitely have a more intimidating opening pair. Middle order looks pretty set with Clarke, Ponting and Mussey though both Ponting and Mussey will not be around in a couple of years and it is hard to see who will replace them. Lee succumbed to the CLT20 and whether we like it or not he will be missed. Especially the experience he has. Bollinger and Johnson have way too many off days and Watson is a good bowler at best. They Australian attack without Lee is definitely second to Saffers’. Steve Smith is a mystery but Doherty has the opportunity to make his mark against a side missing its best player of spin. Between Pattinson, Cummins, and M Marsh, Cummins is the one who has impressed the most and though it is still early days, he could be the man to fill Lee’s shows once he is gone. 
 
Though both teams are pretty evenly matched it is safe to say the South African batting looks more solid but the Aussies have much more explosive batsmen who turn the match around in few overs. However South Africans have the edge in bowling with Australia lacking a bowler of Steyn’s class with Lee out of the picture. A lot will depend on Tahir and Cummins who are my tips to be the players to watch out for. But for all the Australian fans out there I have one name for you: Watson. Watson can bridge whatever little gap is there between these two sides and that’s why this contest is too close to call.
 


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