Adelaide, Dec.2 : Australian captain Ricky Ponting believes that inexperience in Australian conditions, especially at Perth, might count against the South Africans when undertake the tour Down Under.
"On paper, it's a very good attack. But it's an attack that hasn't played in Australia. We all know that it's pretty easy to get carried away with conditions in Perth if you haven't played there before," The Age quoted Ponting, as saying.
Responding to South African cricket coach Micky Arthur's view that the Proteas will have the measure of the Australians this time round, Ponting retorted: "We know as a batting group what we need to do, and we know as a bowling group what we need to do in Perth, so that's one advantage we'll probably have over the South Africans."
Australia-South Africa series are invariably heated affairs, and this season's contest appears no different.
The Proteas have declared their intention to end Australia's five-year hold on the International Cricket Council Test crown, and will arrive boasting five batsmen with more than 900 runs to their names this year, and three of the world's top-10 wicket-takers for 2008.
"It has taken us two years to put together the team who are capable of taking it to the Australians in their own conditions," Arthur had said, adding "We are very comfortable with the squad we are taking over. There is no doubting that our bowling attack can be the best in the world when it is firing, and our batsmen have been unbelievable this year. We have been looking forward to this series for a long time, and we are confident about our chances."
The Australians are not without their own reasons for optimism.
Yesterday's demolition of New Zealand by an innings and 62 runs will do much for the confidence of a team soundly beaten in India last month, and contending with the issues that arise from a major period of player transition.
"We know we have to play at our absolute best if we want to win the series against South Africa and the last couple of weeks have been a good step for us," Ponting said, adding "The rankings have got (South Africa) as No. 2 in the world, and we know we have to play at our optimum and there is no hiding that fact."
Daniel Vettori, who captained New Zealand in a 2-0 trouncing at the hands of South Africa last year, rated the Proteas a strong chance of becoming the first team since the West Indian side of 1992-93 to defeat Australia in a home Test series.
"The hardest thing to do in world cricket is to beat Australia in Australia," Vettori said.
"South Africa are a very good team with an exceptional bowling attack with (Morne) Morkel, (Dale) Steyn and (Makhaya) Ntini and they are exceptionally well lead by (Graeme) Smith, who I think he is one of the best captains in world cricket.
"They will come here thinking they've got a chance, but Australia have proved again they are the toughest team in their own conditions."