SA A tested Aussies - Barnes
Australia may have thumped South Africa A by seven wickets inside three days in Potchefstroom on Thursday but Vinnie Barnes, South Africa’s high performance coach, believes that his charges did not make life easy for the visitors.
The pitch in Potchefstroom is usually as flat as the proverbial pancake but the pitch provided for Australia’s warm-up match ahead of the test series against South Africa proved to be a fast bowler’s delight with variable bounce and swing and seam movement making life for the batsmen exceedingly difficult.
The net result was the match was a relatively low-scoring affair with the hosts scoring 183 and 264 in their two innings while Australia replied with 236 all out and 214 for three.
The pitch was so difficult to play on that Australia all-rounder Shane Watson was moved to say: “It was one of the more dangerous wickets I’ve played on. When the ball’s swinging and seaming that presents a big challenge but when some balls are rolling on the ground and others are taking off from a length it makes it pretty dangerous.”
Barnes said that his team’s job was to make life as difficult as possible for the Australians.
“We don’t want to roll out the red carpet,” Barnes told reporters.
“We batted first, even though the wicket looked a bit iffy, because we wanted to bat twice and not give them as much time in the middle. We ruffled them over a little so that they leave here a bit undercooked.
“We didn’t want them to take as much as they could out of the game. There are still a couple of them walking around thinking ‘geez I haven’t really had good preparation in this game, especially a guy like (Ricky) Ponting.”
Ponting was one of the few Australians who did not take something out of the match as he scored two and 29 in his two knocks.
VALUABLE LEARNING TOOL
Barnes also said that the match had proved to be a valuable learning tool for the Proteas.
“(Proteas assistant coach) Russell Domingo has been here and on the phone to Gary (Kirsten) about what’s going on. A lot of information will go back from here,” he explained.
SA A’s skipper Alviro Petersen, the only man to score a century in the match, said that while there was no doubt that Australia possessed a strong team it was not without its weaknesses and South Africa had the ability to win the two-test series
“Everyone has some weakness,” Petersen said.
“They have a good batting line-up (but) when their bowlers get tired it’s easier to score off them. They also don’t have a world class spinner. If you play against the Australians you have to put in a complete performance together and SA can do that,” he said.
One worrying aspect, from a South African perspective, was the form of left-arm quick Mitchell Johnson who took nine wickets in the match.
Petersen described Johnson as a special player that the Proteas would have to keep an eye on.
“He (Johnson) is an attacking player. He has an X-factor, and can change a game in one session as he showed here. He is their leading bowler and someone SA must look out for,” he concluded.