Match Preview – Australia vs South Africa, South Africa at Australia 2022/23, 2nd Test

The big picture

It’s every cricketer’s Christmas dream: a Test match at the ‘G, with a big crowd. While Australian players experience this every year, for everyone in this South African squad, this is the first time they have been featured on this grand occasion.

None of them were part of the 2008 squad that stunned Australia and claimed South Africa’s post-redemption series win in the country. But, from what he said, almost everyone was awake in the wee hours of the morning, watching in awe as a team that hadn’t lost a 28-home streak since 1992 landed. had gone. By JP Duminy and Dale Stein.

In subsequent years, Cricket South Africa tried to keep their team at home during the festival – a reasonable plan considering it is summer in South Africa too, but compared to Australia. was much less successful. None of the three venues the CSA has tried to host a Boxing Day Test – St George’s Park, Kingsmead and SuperSport Park – has ever been as packed, or as intimidating, as the MCG.

That last thought is one that South Africa will have to avoid if they hope to retain the series as they must win the Test, and their hopes of winning four in a row in Australia remain alive. To give them a chance, they will need a significant improvement in the batting line-up which has been bowled out for less than 200 runs in their last six Test innings. He has spent time working on both technique and mentality and has maintained the mantra that if he can only give his “best in the world” – as Dean Elgar calls it – attack something to defend. , they will be driving. seat

Australia’s bowlers will not take kindly to being effectively called second (or perhaps even third) best and will be leaving themselves behind to challenge South Africa again after having beaten South Africa twice already in Brisbane. On paper and in terms of experience, their batting is much stronger than South Africa’s and although they rely on one innings – Travis Heades – to win the opening match, they will be looking for another success this summer. Before they arrived in Sydney. . Australia have not lost a Test series since December 2021 and have lost only one Test in this WTC cycle.

Farm Guide

Australia WWWLW (last five complete matches, most recent first)
South Africa LLWW

In the spotlight

David Warner will be capped for the 100th time at the MCG, an occasion that seemed unlikely when he debuted in 2011 on the back of his reputation as a white-ball basher, and in his final series against South Africa. Even then it was unlikely. 2018. He is one of Australia’s boldest players on and off the field, and approaches this milestone with no form. Since scoring his last century in January 2020, Warner has played 15 Tests, scoring 678 runs, including two 90s and one 50, and averaging 26.07. In 2022, he averages just 20.61, and there are questions about how long he will continue playing the longest format. The answer may come at the MCG.

Given South Africa’s batting woes, dropping a player seems cruel but Seril Irvi Another must be eager to put up a score of importance, especially after fellow openers Tony De Zorzi and Jordan Herman piled on the runs in the home four-dayer. Irvey has not passed more than 26 in his last six innings but has scored just one hundred and one fifty in his eight Test matches. That’s not a bad return, especially considering the conditions South Africa have played in, but he will know that they have let the openers down.

Team News

Pat Cummins confirmed the XI on Christmas Day and hometown hero Scott Boland retained his place. A tough decision was avoided with Josh Hazlewood making his call that he was not quite ready to return after his side strain.

Australia: 1 David Warner, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Marence Lebuschgen, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Travis Head, 6 Cameron Green, 7 Alex Carey (wicket), 8 Pat Cummins (captain), 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Scott Boland.

South Africa had finalized their XI for Christmas, but the only thing they were willing to give away was that there would be a change in the line-up, not the composition of the team. That means they will continue with a 6-5 split, fielding four specialist quicks and spinners and have not been tempted to lengthen their under-fire batting line-up. If there is a change, it is likely to be in the top three where van der Dusen, who is returning from a broken finger in Brisbane, could make way for Theuns de Bruyne.

South Africa (Probable): 1 Dean Elgar (capt), 2 Sarl Ervi, 3 Rasi van der Dusen/Thunes de Bruyne 4 Temba Bauma, 5 Khaya Zondo, 6 Kyle Vereen (WC), 7 Marco Johnson, 8 Kesho Maharaj, 9 Kagiso Rabada. , 10 Anrich Nortje, 11 Lungi Ngidi

Pitch and conditions

The Gabba was rated below average for excess bounce and occasional excessive seam movement and inconsistent bounce, and the MCG produced a low-scoring test last year. So, what are the odds on another bowler-friendly surface? Less than you think, it seems. The general consensus is that this MCG pitch will perform a little less than its 2021 incarnation, with both teams hoping it will create a good matchup between bat and ball. Two days before the Test, South African speedster Enrich Nortje said he expected good pace and bounce but not the sideways movement of Brisbane.

The test is going to start in hot and humid conditions. Melbourne is forecast to be 32 and 36 degrees on the first and second days, with some early morning showers likely, before a wet third day gives way to cooler temperatures from the previous two days.

Stats and Trivia

  • Both Warner and Elgar are eyeing the milestone after starting their international careers at the Under-19 World Cup in 2006. Warner is 78 runs away from 8000 Test runs and will become the eighth Australian to reach the milestone, while Elgar needs 24 runs. Reached 5000 Test runs. He will be the eighth South African to get there.
  • Usman Khawaja needs 34 runs for 4000 in Tests.
  • South Africa have played 12 Tests at the MCG, and won three. Since their re-entry, they have played five Tests at the venue and lost just two, with two draws and their famous 2008 victory.
  • Quotations

    “There’s a part of everybody that’s a little bit upset if they lose Scott.”
    Pat Cummins On Scott Boland

    “We’ll try and get lunch somewhere but obviously it’s a PG-rated lunch. If the game was on the 28th, maybe things would be different.”
    South Africa is keeping it clean this Christmas. Dean Elgar

    Firdous Munda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent.

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