The Australians are gearing up for what they believe will be a battle of fast bowling in the four-Test series starting on 1 March.
They have been boosted by Mitchell Marsh’s return to full fitness after shoulder reconstruction. He now believes he is back to his top speed.
‘I feel like the ball is coming out as quick as it ever has for me,’ Marsh told Cricket.com.au after a training session at the Wanderers. ‘I don’t think I’m trying to necessarily bowl fast, it’s more a rhythm thing for me.’
Just how fast Marsh is bowling is uncertain, but he smiled wryly when he said that he was clocked in the mid-140km/h region during the Gillette ODI Series this summer.
And he is just the back-up. The five-pronged pace unit of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Chadd Sayers and Jhye Richardson were unleashed on the batsmen in the nets for they believe the Test series could be a shootout between perhaps the two best fast-bowling attacks on the planet.
Marsh said he was relishing the prospect of facing Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander. ‘As any sort of cricketer, you want to challenge yourself against the best,’ he said. ‘These guys [South Africa] probably have one of the best attacks in the world. I’m extremely excited about it. It’s a great opportunity to further on a great summer we had in Australia.’
His bowlers have done their best to prepare the batsmen.
Having faced the pace of Cummins, swing of Starc and surgical accuracy of Hazlewood in training, Marsh says he’s ready for what’s about to come his way from the Proteas, starting in the first Test at Kingsmead.
‘I feel very lucky as a batsman to be able to face a world-class attack every time I go into the nets,’ Marsh said. ‘I use every net session as an opportunity to try and get better against express bowling.’
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