The main thing we take from day one of the first Test between Australia and South Africa is that the five one-dayers they played in South Africa recently weren’t proper international matches and so they probably shouldn’t have bothered.
Australia’s bowling attack for those matches was a recurring theme in our weekly Cricket Badger newsletter (sign up here). Plenty of players were injured, but a few were rested too, meaning Australia got to showcase the full extent of their pace bowling weakness in depth.
Chris Tremain, Joe Mennie, Daniel Worrall and Scott Boland. The names are so unfamiliar, it feels a bit like you’ve somehow found yourself reading an article about 1980s baseball players. They all got panned and Australia got panned. And what did it prove?
Ten years after we first predicted it, squad rotation is now part and parcel of international cricket. But while a rested fast bowler here or there is one thing, there is a threshold beyond which matches cease to have any real meaning. At what point is a team international in name and attire only?
Management of resources is part of the game, but with different teams taking different approaches, you’re not always seeing like pitted against like.
Never mind the mismatches, if a weaker nation beats a deliberately compromised but otherwise stronger nation, does that even count for much? If the defeated team can easily explain away their defeat, that devalues the contest and denied even the opportunity to record an unarguable victory, the weaker nation’s fixtures are diminished.
Outside of World Cups, one-day matches have always been a little more transitory, but as this Australia v South Africa Test series wears on, it’ll be intriguing to look back on the one-day series that immediately preceded it and ask whether it really was genuine international cricket.