Credit and honour for both Australia, South Africa after series

March 25th, 2009 - 5:22 pm ICT by ANI  

Bryce McGain

Cape Town (South Africa), Mar.25 (ANI): The double series score line of 3-3 should be seen as a befitting result for the heavyweight encounter between Australia and South Africa, as it went the distance, and allowed both combatants to emerge with credit and honour.
According to Fox Sports, the larger question that arises is the International Cricket Council rankings. For the moment, Australia is the number one Test side in the world, but South Africa is nipping at its heels.
Just as one series cannot make a team good or bad, Australia will take positives from the recent series to convert itself from an apparently transitional outfit into world beaters again.
With the Ashes next on Australias Test radar, there is as much to look upon with concern as there is confidence.
Australia rolled the dice in South Africa with four debutants Phillip Hughes, Marcus North, Ben Hilfenhaus and Bryce McGain. In most instances the punts paid off, none more so than the 20-year-old opener Hughes.
The ability, style and maturity shown by Hughes suggests Australia have found a talent worth persisting with in England and beyond.
To come back from his debut duck, and the near-comedy nature of his dismissal, to go half-century, century, 150 shows a young man with unshakable self-belief and thirst for a scrap.
Hughess technique will be tested in a different way on the seaming decks in England, but he will cut his teeth for Middlesex beforehand - much to the old foes chagrin and offers an X-factor to Australias top order. His panache is as refreshing as it is effective.
According to Fox Sports, Marcus North is an interesting proposition. In scoring a debut century in Johannesburg, Australia have unearthed a ready-made No.6 who can offer a few overs of useful spin.
With Johnson an absolute must at No.8, Australia have been presented with the opportunity to take the bull by the horns and play four specialist pacemen.
His three subsequent failures (aggregate 43 runs) temper enthusiasm somewhat, but North, much like Mike Hussey before him, is an experienced cricketer who knows his game. He must go to England, where he has garnered a wealth of know-how from several years playing county cricket.
With Hughes and Simon Katich looking set, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke scoring runs and Brad Haddin finding his feet at No.7, Australias batting is looking rock solid. The only issue is Hussey.
Hussey has shown glimpses of a revival in South Africa, but not enough to suggest the worst is behind him. The rise of Mitchell Johnson, with both bat and ball, means Australias desolate search for an all-rounder should be over. Andrew Symonds is not an option, Shane Watsons fitness cant be relied on and, as serviceable as Andrew McDonald was with the ball in South Africa, his batting was generally poor. More importantly, his position should go to a bowler who can do more than hold up an end.
With Katich, Clarke and North all capable of helping out in this area, Australia might be tempted to cut their losses and travel to England without a frontline spinner.
But history, not to mention prudence or England’’s habitual shakes against the turning ball, suggests they will at least take one, even if the names Nathan Hauritz and Jason Krejza do not inspire great confidence. (ANI)

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