Boland retains spot as Australia win Eye Series

Boland retains spot as Australia win Eye Series

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It’s every cricketer’s Christmas dream: a test match at the ‘G, with a big crowd. While Australian players experience it every year, for all members of this South African squad, this is the first time they have taken part in this iconic occasion.

None of them were part of the 2008 team that stunned australia and won South Africa’s post-readmission series to the country. But, from what they said in the prep, almost everyone was awake in the wee hours of the morning, watching in wonder a team that hadn’t been beaten in 28 home series since 1992 being brought down by JP Duminy and Dale Steyn.

In the years since, Cricket South Africa has sought to keep its home team over the festive period – a reasonable plan given that it is also summer in South Africa, but far less successful than that of Australia. None of the three venues the ASC has tried to host the Boxing Day Test – St George’s Park, Kingsmead and SuperSport Park – is ever as comprehensive or as daunting as the MCG.

That last thought is something South Africa will have to guard against as they enter what is an inescapable test if they hope to retain the streak, and their hopes of extending their winning streak in Australia to four successive triumphs. in series, alive. For them to have a chance, they will need significant improvements in the batting lineup that has been ruled out for less than 200 in their last six Test innings. They’ve spent the build-up working on both technique and mindset and maintain the mantra that if they can just give their “best in the world” – as Dean Elgar call them – attack something to defend, they will be in control.

Aussie bowlers won’t appreciate being effectively called second (or maybe even third) best and, having bowled South Africa before twice in Brisbane, will support each other to challenge them again. On paper and from experience, their hitter is much stronger than South Africa’s and even though they relied on one inning – Travis head‘s – to win the opener they will want to score a second success this summer, long before they get to Sydney. Australia have not lost a Test series since December 2021 and have lost just one Test in this cycle of the WTC.

Form Guide

Australia WWWLW (last five matches completed, most recent first)
South Africa LLLWW

In the spotlight

David Warner will be capped for the 100th time at the MCG, an opportunity that might have seemed unlikely when he made his debut thanks to his reputation as a batsman for white balls in 2011, and even more unlikely after his last series against South Africa, in 2018. He is one of Australia’s most daring players, on and off the pitch, and is heading to this major stage without much form. . Since he scored his last cent in January 2020Warner played 15 trials, scored 678 points, including two nineties and one 50, and an average of 26.07. In 2022, he only averages 20.61, and one wonders how long he will continue to play the longer format. The answer may come to the CWM.

Given South Africa’s batting problems, it seems cruel to nominate a player, but Sarel Erwee must be looking forward to scoring another big score, especially after fellow fly-half Tony de Zorzi and Jordan Hermann piled into runs in the four-day domestic meet at home. Erwee hasn’t gone over 26 in his last six innings, but has only scored one hundred and fifty in his eight Tests. Not too bad of a comeback, especially considering the conditions South Africa played in, but he will know they lost openings for less.

Team News

Pat Cummins confirmed the XI on Christmas Day with hometown cult hero Scott Boland retaining his spot. A tough call was actually averted with Josh Hazlewood making his own plea that he wasn’t quite ready for a comeback after his side strain.

Australia: 1 David Warner, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Travis Head, 6 Cameron Green, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Pat Cummins (capt), 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Scott Boland

South Africa had finalized their XI on Christmas Eve but the only thing they were willing to give was that any changes would be made to the roster, not the squad composition. That means they’ll continue with a 6-5 split, allowing the fast four specialists and the spinner to take the field and haven’t been brought in to lengthen their batting lineup under fire. If a change occurs it will likely be in the top three where Rassie van der Dussen, who returned from a broken finger in Brisbane, could make way for Theunis de Bruyn.

South Africa (possible): 1 Dean Elgar (capt), 2 Sarel Erwee, 3 Rassie van der Dussen/Theunis de Bruyn 4 Temba Bavuma, 5 Khaya Zondo, 6 Kyle Verreynne (wk), 7 Marco Jansen, 8 Keshav Maharaj, 9 Kagiso Rabada , 10 Anrich Nortje, 11 Lungi Ngidi

Location and conditions

The Gabba received a below average note for extra bounce and occasional excessive seam movement and inconsistent bounce, and the MCG produced a Low score test Last year. So what are the odds on another surface suitable for bowlers? Less than you might think, it seems. The general consensus is that this MCG pitch will do slightly less than its 2021 avatar, with both teams hoping it will produce a good contest between bat and ball. Two days before the test, South African speedster Anrich Nortje said he expected good pace and rebounding, but not as much lateral movement as Brisbane.

The test is configured to start in warm and humid conditions. Melbourne is expected to be 32 and 36 degrees on the first and second days, with the possibility of a few showers on the opening morning, before a wetter third day gives way to cooler temperatures on the final two days.

Statistics and anecdotes

  • Warner and Elgar are both in sight of milestones having started their international careers at the Under-19 World Cup in 2006. Warner is 78 runs from 8,000 tries and will become the eighth Australia to reach the landmark, while that Elgar needs 24 runs to reach 5000 tries. He will be the eighth South African to do so.
  • Usman Khawaja needs 34 runs for 4,000 in Tests
  • South Africa have played 12 Tests at the MCG and won three. Since their readmission, they have played five Tests at the venue and lost just two, with two draws and their famous 2008 victory.
  • Estimate

    “There would have been a part of everyone who would have felt a little aggrieved if Scott had missed.”
    pat cummins on Scott Boland

    “We’ll try to have lunch somewhere, but obviously it’s a PG-rated lunch. If the game had been on the 28th, it might have been a little different.”
    South Africa keeps it clean this Christmas Day, says Dean Elgar

    Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s correspondent in South Africa

    #Boland #retains #spot #Australia #win #Eye #Series

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