Faf to debut, Aussies unchanged
Both Australia and South Africa have bucked the trend in recent years to keep their starting XIs a ‘secret’ until the morning of the match by naming their teams a full day before the second test begins in Adelaide on Thursday.
Australia will remain unchanged from the first test at the Gabba in Brisbane while South Africa have, as expected, made two changes with Faf du Plessis replacing the injured JP Duminy and spinner Imran Tahir taking the place of fourth seamer Rory Kleinveldt.
“The majority of the time we like to go in with a spinner,” Graeme Smith said before training on Wednesday. “Brisbane was a slight change for us in the way we go about it tactically but we’re back to normal now with Imran and we are looking forward to him playing a big part in this test.”
Although there had been speculation that South Africa may prefer specialist wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile at No 7 to ease the burden on AB de Villiers, Smith confirmed that Du Plessis would make his debut.
“It’s a strategy which has worked well for us in recent times and this is an exciting time for Faf who has been around the group and part of the squad for a long time now. He has had excellent results and performances for a number of years and deserves his chance.
“Imran is our No 1 spinner and we’ll look to him for the majority of our leg spin, but who knows…if it starts turning sideways on the last couple of days then we might get some extra overs out of Faf. He is a genuine option in that department.”
As expected, Australian allrounder Shane Watson was nowhere near full fitness by the time the team was chosen although the decision to persevere with the unimpressive Ben Hilfenhaus over the quicker, more aggressive left armer Mitchell Starc was more of a surprise:
“He’s a few days short of being 100 per cent,” Michael Clarke said of Watson. “We’re doing everything in our power to get him right for the third test in Perth.
“We bowled really well (against India) last summer and Ben was a big part of that attack.”
South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Jacques Rudolph, Faf du Plessis, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir.
Australia Michael Clarke (captain), David Warner, Ed Cowan, Rob Quiney, Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey, Matthew Wade, Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon.