Australia look to extend the winning momentum
by CricketArchive Staff Reporter

Player:I Khan, AG Prince, BJ Spanner

DateLine: 19th March 2009


The series is decided and the Cape Town Test has become a dead rubber but for several individuals in the Australian camp there is still plenty of battle left. With the Ashes spots up for grabs which begins in July and with the likelihood that established players such as Stuart Clark, Brett Lee and Andrew Symonds will be available for selection, the newer faces in the squad will be desperate to push their cases for the tour. Men like Ben Hilfenhaus and Marcus North have all but booked their places for the England trip and a strong performance in Cape Town would cap off their auditions.


As far as team momentum is concerned, this game has far less importance than the equivalent dead rubber in Sydney in January. Australia fought back from their 2-0 series deficit to win that game and the impetus helped them begin strongly in South Africa, while their opponents faded away. But this time the South Africans have no Test cricket on the agenda for nine months - their home series against England begins in December.


It's therefore hard to know what the likes of Ashwell Prince and Imraan Khan can take out of this game in isolation. The two men have been included as the openers for this game in the absence of the injured Graeme Smith and the axed Neil McKenzie. Prince and Khan could be competing for one opening position when Smith returns. Ashwell Prince has been asked to open and it's not a job that he is used to. A trial run for the Warriors on the weekend worked well - he made a handy 254 against an attack boasting both Morkel brothers. Prince will also be keen to prove a point to the selectors, who left him out at the start of this series despite his standing as the team's vice-captain, after he missed all three Tests in Australia due to a cracked thumb.


Mitchell Johnson is the leading wicket taker for the series and most significantly his repertoire now boasts the inswinger to right-handers. It has made him a serious threat in the swinging South African conditions and if the Newlands pitch has a hint of green on the first morning he could be a handful.


There has been nothing but team news for South Africa over the past week. After the Durban loss, McKenzie and Morne Morkel were dropped and with Smith injured, it meant three changes to a side that hadn't altered at all since the start of the tour of Australia. Prince and Khan will form a new and experimental opening partnership, while Albie Morkel is set to make his debut at the expense of his brother.


Australia's only decision was likely to be whether to use the same XI that won the first two Tests or include the legspinner Bryce McGain. However, their situation has been complicated by a bout of gastro that struck down North the day before the game. He did not train with the squad on Wednesday and it meant the Australians were forced to delay naming their 12. With no batting backups in the touring party, if North fails to recover it will almost certainly mean a debut for McGain. The Newlands pitch is expected to offer some turn, so McGain is a chance to play anyway, and at just a week short of his 37th birthday he would be Australia's oldest debutant since Bob Holland. If he does play it could be as a replacement for his Victoria team-mate Andrew McDonald, who has been solid in the first two Tests without categorically imposing himself on them.


Teams : South Africa (From): Ashwell Prince, Imraan Khan, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis(c), AB de Villiers, Jean-Paul Duminy, Mark Boucher(w), Albie Morkel, Paul Harris, Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini and Wayne Parnell


Australia (From): Phillip Hughes, Simon Katich, Ricky Ponting(c), Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey, Marcus North, Brad Haddin(w), Mitchell Johnson, Doug Bollinger, Peter Siddle, Bryce McGain, Ben Hilfenhaus, Andrew McDonald, Brett Geeves, Nathan Hauritz, Steve Magoffin



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