Qantas Tour of South Africa

Cape Town curator promises green-top

Ground staff given free rein after Proteas pitch-tinkering plan backfired against India


20 March 2018, 11:00 AM AEST

Aussie injury cloud as Rabada returns to training

A dangerous pitch that became an international embarrassment has triggered somewhat of an epiphany in South Africa, with curators no longer being coerced or constrained like they were earlier this year.

Australia will confront a challenging green-tinged wicket in Cape Town, where the four-Test series continues on Thursday.

There will be plenty of seam movement, especially early on, and reverse-swing should be hard to generate because of a lush centre-wicket block that will impede efforts to scuff the ball.

They're all normal characteristics of Newlands, and exactly what the Aussies had been predicting.

The deck isn't expected to have as much pace and bounce in it as the pitch produced for a Test at the ground in January, when 18 wickets fell on a single day as the Proteas defeated India.

Nor will it come close to the frightening bounce on offer in Johannesburg during the same series, when a Test was temporarily stopped and almost called off because umpires harboured concerns about batsmen's safety.

The story behind Clarke's 2014 ton of courage

That Wanderers wicket, a product of the Proteas' push for a paceman's paradise on which they hoped to unsettle India, was rated poor by the match referee and received widespread condemnation.

Proteas captain Faf du Plessis and coach Ottis Gibson both suggested prior to the current series, now level at 1-1, their camp won't make any demands of groundsmen.

Newlands curator Evan Flint confirmed to AAP that's been his experience.

Hazlewood on what to expect in Cape Town

"The Indian series was pretty unique in a sense that we'd never had instructions quite that clear before," Flint said.

"It backfired ... it went horribly wrong.

"Our Test was kind of the least controversial (of the three) but to me it still wasn't a great Test. It finished in three days, nobody got a hundred. That's not what you want.

"They've definitely stepped back. There doesn't seem to be as big a focus on getting it exactly how they want it."

Aussies tinkering with plans for AB: Starc

The pitch produced for the Test in January came to life after heavy rain, ironically in the midst of a major drought, robbed Newlands of its first full day of Test cricket in 82 years.

Flint hopes a day-five finish is on the cards this time around.

Harris's epic inside tale of 2014 Cape Town decider

Australia and South Africa both produced unplayable spells of reverse-swing in the opening two Tests, but now the impetus will be on Josh Hazlewood and Vernon Philander to bust the game open with the new ball.

"It'll definitely (seam around early). This time of year it's cooler in the mornings, so there's more moisture," he said.

"We might get a bit of reverse late, days four and five, but generally this isn't a reverse-swing kind of ground."

Qantas tour of South Africa

South Africa squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen, Quinton de Kock, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Duanne Olivier, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, AB de Villiers.

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.

Warm-up match: Australia beat South Africa A by five wickets. Report, highlights

First Test Australia won by 118 runs. Scorecard

Second Test South Africa won by six wickets. Scorecard

Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26. Live coverage

Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3. Live coverage