Sparks could fly during the Australia vs South Africa cricket series that starts with the first Test in Perth from Thursday. Heated exchanges between players could make the ICC match referee work overtime during the mouth-watering series.
Not so long ago, a series between Australia vs South Africa was like a heavyweight battle. Both sides were on top of the world for the brand of cricket they played. When they last played in 2014, Ryan Harris and Mitchell Johnson bowled the Aussies to a series win in Cape Town.
This is the post Johnson-Harris era and South Africa, in a rebuilding phase, have returned to their happy hunting ground.
Fast bowler, Dale Steyn, who is one of four players in the current squad to have been part of the ‘double’ against Australia. Hashim Amla, JP Duminy and Morne Morkel are the others.
Steyn says it’s ‘exciting’ to be back at a fortress that holds many fond memories for the team.
“Eight years ago we won here, a couple of years ago we won here again,” he said of the 2008 and 2012 successes in Perth.
“It’s nice to come here with that feeling that you have done well here before, regardless of the pitch, whether it will be flying through or hitting the ankles, it doesn’t really matter.
“To walk into a venue where you feel comfortable is always exciting so we are really looking forward to it.
Steyn says they won’t be underestimating Australia following their 3-0 loss to Sri Lanka and the Proteas’ 5-0 win last month, but rather expects a competitive on-field battle played in the right spirit and above the line.
Steyn’s probable new-ball partner Vernon Philander is promising no niceties during the series. It could be a volatile series and could “get a bit nasty.”
“There are going to be times when we’ve got to step it up and get a bit nasty,” Philander said at the WACA Ground in Perth where the first Commonwealth Bank Test between the teams begins on Thursday.
“There’s going to be a time when a partnership will develop and it will require one or two bowlers to put up their hands and get a bit ugly.
“Make things a bit uncomfortable. But it’s all part of the game.
“That definitely tests your character and that’s obviously a part of Test cricket, testing your skills. To get out there and win that moment for your team. So it’s going to be fun.”
On Thursday, South Africa begin the rebuilding steps towards the legacy they once held away from home.
The Proteas ended their nine-year undefeated run away from home, the longest by any team, with the 3-0 loss to India last year, and have earmarked this series as the start of a journey towards reclaiming the status.