“We’ve got the best fast bowlers.”
“No, we’ve got the best fast bowlers.”
“Not being funny, but actually, I think you’ll find we’ve got the best fast bowlers.”
“Yeah, right, whatever. Have you even seen our fast bowlers?”
The build-up to what promises to be a fascinating Test series between South Africa and Australia has been a bit one-note and we haven’t really learnt much from it.
The Kallis-shaped, Kallis-sized hole
How did South Africa become the top-ranked Test side? They scored plenty of runs and they fielded four cracking seam bowlers as well as a spinner. Very few sides can manage this because very few sides can field a guy who averages eight runs more than Kevin Pietersen with the bat and who also happens to be a darn handy pace bowler in his spare time.
Of course Jacques Kallis is irreplaceable, which must therefore beg the question: how exactly are you going to replace Jacques Kallis?
Wayne Parnell and Ryan McLaren seem the most likely beneficiaries, which means shedding around 30 runs an innings and gaining precisely what in terms of bowling? Not a lot when you’re talking about a fourth or fifth bowler.
This South Africa side is not what it was.
Long handle deployment
Complete these two sequences:
- Steyn, Philander, Morkel…
- Johnson, Harris, Siddle…
What comes next is the word ‘attack’. If the main threat comes from the seamers, how will the batsmen approach the spinners? Probably with a fairly wild look in their eyes, you’d think.
But that goes both ways. A handful of spin bowlers can dismiss batsmen intent on survival, but there are plenty more who can outfox a psychopath who’s lost all perspective.
Robin Peterson isn’t even his mum’s favourite spin bowler, but he thinks he might profit from being underestimated and he might well be right. Nathan Lyon’s in a similar position and, as has been pointed out, how might the Ashes have gone in England had he been selected from the start?
Okay, it probably warrants a mention. The one thing we would say about this is that while Mitchell Johnson’s on a six-month hot streak, Dale Steyn’s maintained a pretty decent temperature for many years. We’re not sure whether that’ll prove pertinent, but we have greater faith in the latter ‘turning up’ and then remaining ‘up’ once there.