Qantas Tour of South Africa

Aussies to unleash bumper barrage

Steve Smith suggests successful short-pitched Ashes tactic will continue against Proteas

Sam Ferris, in Johannesburg

18 February 2018, 07:00 AM

The recent history of Australia v South Africa

South Africa's tail-end batsmen are in for a torrid series after Australia captain Steve Smith confirmed his fearsome pace attack will continue their lower-order bouncer barrage that worked wonders in the Magellan Ashes. 

Australia's frontline fast bowling unit of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood blew away England's tailenders with relentless short bowling in the successful 4-0 campaign on home soil and that tactic is set to be retained for the four-Test Qantas Tour of South Africa. 

Aussie quicks’ frightening bouncer barrage

"I think they'll go down a similar path," Smith told reporters in Johannesburg on Saturday when asked if his speedsters would continue to bounce-out opposition lower-order batsmen. 

"I think there could be some good short-pitched bowling throughout the series, to batters, to the tail, everyone from both sides. 

"I don't think a great deal changes there."

Except for a couple a couple of swashbuckling cameos from veteran Stuart Broad, England's tail had few answers when combatting Australia's hostile short-pitched bowling approach in the Ashes.

Dramatic lower-order batting collapses from the tourists were a running theme during the home summer, often sparked by the express pace of Australia's quicks, which was a deciding factor in Smith's charges regaining the urn.

But while the Australians had the clear edge in bowling speed over their English counterparts, they will own no such advantage against South Africa, who possess a pace battery prepared to fight fire with fire.

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In boom youngster Kagiso Rabada and senior quick Morne Morkel, the Proteas have two fast bowlers capable of reaching speeds beyond 150kph to match the lightning being sent down by Starc and Cummins. 

Add to that the seam-bowling prowess of Proteas pair Vernon Philander and Lungi Ngidi and Australia's Josh Hazlewood and the series becomes a mouth-watering prospect for fast-bowling purists.

The calibre of quicks could be a nightmare for the batsmen across the four Tests to be played in Durban, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Johannesburg, but Smith is relishing the opportunity to face the South African speedsters. 

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"I think it's great," Smith said. "I'm excited by it. 

"You love going up against the best bowlers around the world and I think South Africa have two guys that bowl good pace, Rabada and Morkel. 

"They're quality bowlers along with Philander, who's done what he's done for long periods of time where he challenges your defence consistently. 

"I think it's really exciting and the batters should be looking forward to this series. 

"You love going up against good pace and those sorts of challenges. 

"It's going to be a fantastic series for the viewers to watch."

Refreshed Smith ready and raring to face Proteas

If the prospect of handling the likes of Starc, Rabada, Cummins and Philander was hard enough, the Test match wickets in South Africa this season have been in the bowlers' favour.

In the three-Test series between South Africa and India, only one century was recorded – Virat Kohli's phenomenal 153 in Centurion last month – while only twice in 12 completed innings did a team pass 300 (335 by South Africa and 307 by India in their respective first innings in Centurion).

The series concluded at the Wanderers – the venue for the final Test of Australia's tour – where the pitch was rated 'poor' by the International Cricket Council after unpredictable bounce and excessive seam movement led to several batsmen being struck.

But when asked about what he expects from the Test match surfaces in the upcoming series, Smith said he's instructed his players to adapt to the present playing conditions at each destination and not what's been on offer in the past.

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"We saw some of the wickets that looked quite difficult for the batters in the Indian series, but for us it's just about playing what's in front of you," he said.

"Whether you've got a flat wicket, a green wicket that's doing something, a wicket that's up and down, you've just got to try and adapt to whatever you've got in front of you and do the job. 

"That's my message to the boys at the moment. 

"You don't know what you're going to get in each Test match in each venue. 

"It's just about playing how you need to play in each set of conditions, that's the most important thing."

Qantas tour of South Africa

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 v SA Invitational XI, Sahara Park, Benoni, Feb 22-24

First Test Kingsmead, Durban, March 1-5

Second Test St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, March 9-13

Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26

Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3