Ghost of the last series hangs over SA v Australia down under

HOWZAT! Andile Phehlukwayo picked up three of Australia’s middle order, Australia v South Africa, 1st ODI, Perth, November 4, 2018 Picture: GETTY IMAGES

So much can happen in a year that what took place in March can be forgotten in November.

When it comes to South Africa-Australia cricket engagements‚ that’s not the case‚ especially with the sides meeting on Sunday in Perth for the first time since the fractious four-Test series in March and April.

While this series will be limited to three ODIs and a sole T20I‚ Australia left South Africa after their series here earlier this year firmly with their tail between their legs from a result and moral perspective.

If it wasn’t about sharp tongues and obscene language‚ there was ball-tampering.

Either way, Australian cricket was left scarred and the ramifications from that tour are still keenly felt down under.

Proteas captain Faf du Plessis expects a tough on-field contest without the expletives that often accompany past Australian sides.

“The competitive juices will always flow but the series will be a bit toned down‚ especially from the Australian side‚” Du Plessis said.

“Not necessarily from a body language view but from a verbal point of view. That’s the way I got used to playing against Australia and it goes back all the years. It was a norm.

“Maybe that’s the aspect I’m expecting to change a little bit. There’ll still be a good cricket battle but less of the verbal stuff.”

The biggest casualties from the Test tour were Steven Smith and David Warner‚ whose bans mean they’re missing in action from an international cricket perspective. Their absences have been felt at all levels for Australia‚ who were brave but thoroughly outplayed by Pakistan recently.

Du Plessis said he knew what Australia were going through at the moment.

“They’ve lost two big players and if you take any international side and remove two of their best batters in the top six‚ then there should be an adjustment.

“It’s not just a case of dominating in international cricket. There are experienced players for a reason and they’ve done it for a long time‚” Du Plessis said.

“We’ve lost two bowlers from our lineup for different periods and then all of a sudden‚ you’re struggling to take wickets – so it’s difficult to replace two big players.

“However‚ the opportunity they’d see is for young players to stake their claim towards World Cup selection.”

Du Plessis‚ though‚ knows better than to underestimate Australia‚ regardless of the fact they’re missing key players. Cricket is one sport that binds the Australian population together and Du Plessis feels the hosts could be more than competitive.

“Whenever you get the chance to play Australia‚ you’re always playing against a very good team. Even when you look at what they have in their squad on paper‚ there are some fantastic names with bat and ball‚” Du Plessis said.

“Their results haven’t been as good as they would have liked but from our point of view it’s important that we look at Australia as the team that we all know‚ and there’s a clash between South Africa and Australia – it’s always a tough one.”

Source: TMG Digital.

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