Australia and South Africa last met in a Test series in South Africa in November 2011 and what a series it was. The first test was one the most extraordinary test matches of all time, Clarke made 151 in Australia’s first innings total of 284. In reply South Africa was skittled for a lowly 96. Harris (4) and Watson (5) taking the wickets. At this stage you would think Australia would cruise to victory. Not to be so. In reply Australia could only manage 47 (fourth lowest Australian total in test history) and at one stage Australia were 9-21. 26 being the lowest total by any test nation in history. South Africa lost only two wickets in chasing the 236 required for victory. Australia went on to level the two match series in the second test.

The three venues used for this series will be Brisbane Adelaide and Perth which should suit the South Africans. Dale Steyn is arguably the best pace bowler in the world and with the Australian batting line up looking a little unsettled he is likely to add some pressure early. Another who should be suited by condition is Vernon Philander who has had great success in his first five months of test cricket, reaching 50 wickets in only seven matches which is the second fastest in test history. He is currently $3.00 to take the most wickets in the series for South Africa, Australia would not have seen much of Vernon and expect him to shine.

In recent years the battles between these two nations have been tight and expect it to be the case again this time. Shane Watson’s injury combined with the South African friendly venues used for this series could be enough to tip the scales in their favour.

History

Overall, Australia has a good record against South Africa in test matches. Since the 1993/94 series, Australia and South Africa have met:

11 Test series
7 series wins to Australia (4 of which were white washes)
3 draws
1 series win to South Africa

The Players

Australia’s line up has changed considerably (7 changes to the XI) since the last time these two teams have met. Watson, Cummins and Harris are out of test calculation due to injury whilst Hughes, Khawaja, Haddin and Johnson all find themselves on the selection outer. In contrast South Africa’s line up is likely to only feature two changes with Boucher and Prince out of the line-up.

Likely sides below:
Australia - Cowan, Warner, Quiney, Clarke ©, Ponting, Hussey, Wade, Siddle, Pattinson, Starc, Lyon, Hilfenhaus. (12th man to be named)

South Africa - Smith ©, Rudolph, Amla, Kallis, Duminy, DeVilliers, Petersen, Steyn, Morkel, Philander, Tahir. Remainder of 15 man squad includes: du Plessis, Kleinveldt, Peterson, Tsolekile

Betting

Despite the daunting history against them, South Africa is slight favourites to take out this year’s three match series. TAB has the betting as follows:

$2.30- South Africa
$2.65- Australia
$3.75- Drawn series

Suggested Bets

Most series test wickets for Australia - Pattinson- $3.25
The most consistent of the attack, in good state cricket form and likely first bowler picked, James Pattinson represents good favouritism value at

Most series test wickets for South Africa – Philander $3.00

Ricky Ponting $4.50 has a superb record in the first match of a series and has posted some huge scores in his career at the Gabba. He has already posted scores of 162*, 60* & 85*  in state cricket this year. Expect him to be Australia’s highest run scorer in the first innings.