The Third South Africa v Australia Test begins tonight, local time.
After each side has had a thumping victory over the other, I'm reluctant to make a prediction.
However ....some observations
# In T2 South Africa played above what I'd thought was their best form. Not only did several of those from whom better things had been expected in T1 rise to the occasion, but some from whom less was expected eg JP Duminy and Dean Elgar, delivered in spades.
# Sourh Africa's quick bowling in T2 was as superb as Australia's had been in T1, and their lack of a frontline spinner (if such a person exists in the country) didn't really handicap them.
# Australia's second innings collapse after the Chris Rogers- David Warner show laid a promising foundation was unexpected, but not, in the light of the Ashes experiences, a great surprise. (Brad Haddin was bound to fail sometime, though perhaps not three times on the trot).
# Australia's quick bowling in T2 looked worn out: Ryan Harris has virtually admitted that he's on his last legs, while Peter Siddle looked, as he's done on previous occasions when support at the other end has been lacking, an honest trundler (and the speed gun reflected this). The limitations of a four bowler attack were exposed by the Proteas batting.
# Both captains have points to prove with the bat, and Graham Smith with his tactics: sending Australia in after winning the T1 toss was a huge blunder. South Africa may still have lost, but the margin would (says he speculating) almost certainly have been smaller.
# Australia will need to beef up both batting and bowling for T3. The obvious answer is to play a fit (touch wood) Shane Watson. In whose place: Alex Doolan or Shaun Marsh? This time I think it should be Doolan's. Marsh cannot do any worse than his T2 pair, and you'd hope that his greater Test match experience might count for something in the tight contest which the multitudes watching on TV or the sprinkling of spectators (if the pathetic turnouts at Centurion and Port Elizabeth are any guide) at the ground will be hoping for.