BRISBANE, (Reuters) – Australia move on to the second test against South Africa charged with renewed belief they can win the three-match series but coach Mickey Arthur has warned his team they cannot afford another slow start.
The Gabba test may have ended in a draw on Tuesday but Australia will take great confidence from the fact that, after a poor start, they outscored South Africa with the bat and twice removed their top order on a flat Brisbane wicket.
They will certainly view the number one ranked team in test cricket through different eyes after dominating them for two days but Arthur, once the Proteas coach, said his former charges would rebound.
“There’s no doubting their ability, no doubting the quality of that South African side, they’re going to be on song come Adelaide, no doubt about it,” he told reporters after the test.
“Against a really good side like South Africa, you’ve got to be on the money from the very first ball. We probably weren’t and that’s something we’ll address going into Adelaide.”
Australia might even be able to bolster their inexperienced top order with the return of all rounder Shane Watson from injury, even if he was unable to bowl.
“Watto has had two nets, he had a bit of a run today and he came through that well, he’s having a bowl on Friday. We’ll see early next week how that’s going,” said Arthur.
“We’ll have to sit down and consider what we think is the best eleven going into that Adelaide test and Shane would come into a huge amount of consideration for that,” said Arthur.
“He’s a quality player, he’s an international brand is Shane Watson. If Shane Watson was fit, we’d have to definitely consider (playing him as a specialist batsman).”
Australia disappointed with the ball on the first day at the Gabba and Ben Hilfenhaus’s place in the attack might be under threat from left-armer Mitchell Starc for the Adelaide test that starts on Nov. 22.
While James Pattinson led the Australian charge and Peter Siddle looked dangerous at times, Hilfenhaus only claimed the wickets of two tailenders despite taking the new ball in both innings.
“I was happy with the work that all our bowlers did,” Arthur said.
“After day one I was definitely happy. I thought our speed was up, I thought our lines were better, I thought we built up a lot of pressure. I’m content.
“Mitchell’s playing a (Sheffield) Shield game at the moment, let’s see how he goes in that one and it might give us another option come Adelaide.”
Spinner Nathan Lyon had an expensive match taking 4-177 in 50 overs but Arthur was impressed with how he responded after being pummelled at one stage on Tuesday.
“I thought he stuck to his guns, I thought he varied his pace well and built some pressure,” he said of the off spinner, who two years ago was a groundsman at the Adelaide Oval.
“So I’m happy where Nathan is, and he goes back to his home pitch so I’m comfortable that he’s in a good enough place for us.”
The one area where there is no concern at all is the form of captain Michael Clarke, who hit an unbeaten 259 that only added to his imperious 2012.
Clarke has now notched a triple century and two double centuries in seven tests this year, accumulating 1041 runs at an average of 115.66.
“Words can’t describe how good he’s been since he’s been captain. In the last year, he’s been outstanding,” said Arthur.
“I think the key is not the runs he’s getting because he’s a class batsman and he was always going to get the runs.
“The key is the way he prepares, the meticulous preparation he goes through.
“He doesn’t leave anything to chance, he puts the work in and because of that, he’s a great example to the dressing room and also getting a reward through performance.”