Smith forecasts South Africa barrage for Aussie batsmen

Steve Smith

MELBOURNE, (Reuters) – Australia captain Steve Smith expects his touring batsmen to be given a thorough test of their credentials when they face South Africa’s formidable attack on pace-friendly pitches in a four-test series beginning in March.

The Proteas flexed their pace muscles to beat world number one India 2-1 on lively home tracks this month, including a spiteful Johannesburg pitch, where several batsmen sustained nasty blows and the match came close to being called off.

“I’ve seen little bits and pieces (of the series against India),” Smith told reporters yesterday.

“I think it’s going to be a really exciting series. Two good pace attacks going at it. Batting’s going to be hard work.

“They’ve got some good bowlers and we’re going to have to show some good fight and good resilience out in the middle against their quicks, and (Keshav) Maharaj as well, who’s come a long way as a spinner.”

Spearhead Dale Steyn is nursing a heel injury and racing against time to be fit for the Durban opener, but the last two India tests proved South Africa have a potent quartet in Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada and rookie Lungi Ngidi.

Australia’s pace attack was equally as impressive in the 4-0 Ashes triumph against England, also completed earlier this month, and Smith had no doubt that Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins would prove potent in South Africa.

“They could go a couple of different ways with their wickets,” he said. “For us, it’s just about adapting to whatever they throw at us.

“I guess the thing with Australia and South Africa is the conditions are probably the two most similar around the world.

“The wickets are generally pretty similar and the pace and bounce. From that aspect it’s (easier to adjust).”

After the first test starting on March 1, the series moves on to further matches in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

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