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South Africa vs Australia

Australia and South Africa are vastly different teams. The gap in talent and skill has been less pronounced in their history than In recent years, but the way in which they play the game has seen a dramatic shift away from a similar starting point. 

Players like Shaun Pollock, Lance Kluesener, Jacques Kallis, Alan Donald and Herschelle Gibbs represented not only a time period but a mindset, one that is much more on par with that of Australia. A juggernaut of confidence and skill, once they got on a roll they became almost impossible to stop. The only thing standing in the way of true immortal status seemed to be this tiny lack of confidence that crept in at the most unlikely of times.

Australia followed a similar arc, yet that insipid lack of confidence never once crossed the minds of the collective. Both sides possessed a sharp killer instinct that could render oppositions helpless. Teams visiting Australia during the late 90s and early 00s must've felt like lambs on the conveyor belt. They were unable to avoid the guillotine. Both sides based their dominance around the immense talent they had on offer coupled with a killer punch. But Australia was always better. Why? They fought. They fought In Adelaide, they fought in the 1999 World Cup, the fought the West Indies in 1995. South Africa relied almost wholly on their ability to batter teams. Australia could be Lennox Lewis one day, knocking teams in the nose for all 12 rounds, and Ali the next, taking punch after punch and never once hitting the canvas.

It's why this series is so intriguing. The divergence in the sides approach to cricket must first be defined. Australia are a confidence side. They do not possess the most technically gifted side in the world. Their batting is weak and prone to collapse, their bowling is only two series removed from that which India completely dismantled. Injury wise, our quicks are as hardy as a thrown egg. Treat them too harshly as a coaching unit and they will shatter. Their strength lies in their kinetic energy. They are reminiscent of a huge rock at the top of a hill. It took a whole test and one day series in England to get that rock rolling, but once it did the English side were completely flattened by it. It decimated everything in it's path.

South Africa are different. They have inner confidence which is based on the fact that they are, pound for pound, the best side in the world (India lack a true world beating quick). They have the players to take it to anyone, on any surface. They play hard, unrelenting cricket, much the same way as Siddle performs. They do not give micro millimetres let alone inches. And oppositions in the face of such pressure usually crumble. The problem with South Africa is momentum. They lack it. They perform at their peak, but there is no over boost. No injection of rocket fuel, no rolling mass of energy that gathers pace, no Johnson factor. They'll turn up session 1 day 1 and play at their peak, and will still be in that same gear session 3 day 5.

And so this is what makes this upcoming test series so delightful. If the laptop brigade were to decide the outcome it'd be 3 zip to SA. But we saw what happens when the boffins take over in the ashes series. A bunch of eggheads are left scratching their propellor hats as their team is put to the sword by an inferior outfit. Australia enter this test series with such precious momentum. Couple this with an inhuman ability to fight for their lives and they look formidable. Very formidable. Brad Haddin looks like god batting with a trident. Johnson looks like Clint Eastwood and Chuck Norris' love child high on cocaine. Michael Clarke looks like something Michaelangelo crafted. Steve Smith looks like a Picasso. And Nathan Lyon looks like that bloke you see down the pub that you think is a bit unfortunate, and it turns out he owns Instagram. Take this momentum away and all of a sudden Haddin is batting with his feet in a bucket, Johnson is as wild as a John Wayne movie and Steve smith looks like a deluded mental patient crafted him from play doh and mucus.

 So what happens when a swirling tornado hits the unrelenting power of the ocean? I don't know. But it's gonna be one hell of a show when we find out. My prediction? This one day series could prove to be one of the most important in recent memory. If Australia continue to steamroll the old enemy, I guarantee we will win 2 - nil in South Africa. If we slip up and England fight back to win the series, we maybe get pummeled in Protea land. If we win comfortably, then beat South Africa comfortably, by 2015 we will once again sit atop the world test rankings. Mark my words. 

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