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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Back to the fray as regrouping Australia tries to defeat strong South Africa

My computer crashed during the Second Test. As it was the Christmas - New Year break it took a while to repair, by which time South Africa had won the series 2-1 (it was they, not Australia, who eased off in the dead rubber). Australia then won the T20 games 2-0 but lost the ODI series 1 - 4 .

There followed a brief interlude when the New Zealanders returned for the short form game part of their tour. This featured an ODI series which was shared 2-2 with a no result in a close final match and a single T20I which Australia won by 1 run .

Later today today our time the battle for world Test cricket supremacy resumes in Johannesburg. With the West Indies and England Fourth Test starting even later I expect I'll be having a few late nights and/or early mornings over the coming days.

Today Foxtel has run a 6 hour refresher course of highlights of the Aust - RSA Test series played here earlier in the summer. Watching the Australians in the First Test reminded me of how much things have changed in such a short time. Matthew Hayden, Andrew Symonds, Brett Lee and Jason Krezja are no longer, for various reasons, in the team. The series beginning today will show the extent to which the team has been able to cover their absence. While Krezja, despite a 12 wicket haul on debut against India, fell quickly from the selectors' favour, the others were, occasional lapses of form or conduct apart, first choices. Doug Bollinger and Andrew McDonald are still unproven in, while Marcus North and Ben Hilfenhaus have yet to play, a Test.

The South Africans have an embarassment of riches, due partly to the emergence of Jean-Paul Duminy as a Test batter. While the Australians, in the series here, were not comprehensively outplayed (as it could be argued they were in their 2 - 0 loss in India last year) they were deservedly beaten. Have they improved enough to topple the Proteas at home? I doubt it, but needless to say will be watching the matches with great interest (and will try to post regularly).

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