Australia showed their confidence when they named an unchanged XI for the first Test against South Africa from the one that crushed England in the final Ashes clash.
Australia’s menacing pace attack are geared up to unite for the fifth time in Tests, but Australia captain Steve Smith is wary of what the Kingsmead pitch will offer.
‘Looking at the wicket now a couple of days out, it looks like it could be quite slow, maybe not a great deal of carry. But I’m terrible at judging wickets, so it’s just about adapting to whatever we’re dealt, and identifying it quickly and making sure we’re doing everything we need to do on our feet quickly.
‘The first Test match is so important, so you don’t want to be behind the eight ball early in this series.’
They are obviously comfortable with the Test form of vice-captain David Warner, despite the fact that he has had only a week to acclimatise after the ODI and T20 series in Australia, which followed the Ashes.
Smith and the fast bowers relished their two-week break after the five-match series against England and the ODIs.
‘I think a week or two away does a world of good to anyone,’ Smith said. ‘I know that when we landed here Starcy [Mitchell Starc], for instance, was so happy the way the ball was coming out, he was swinging it and you could just see on their faces that they were a bit more refreshed and just ready to go.’
The Australians will be launching their pace trio of Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, backed up by Mitchell Marsh, as well as the spin of Nathan Lyon.
Smith is hoping South Africa stay with the five-bowler policy they used against India.
‘If they have the same lineup as the India Test matches, I think it’s a very long tail,’ Smith said. ‘If you can get some early wickets and get into the middle order quickly you might be able to go through them.’
Australia XI: David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (c), Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.
Photo: Julian Smith./EPA/BackpagePix