Sydney, Feb.26 (ANI): The South African cricket team deserve to start as favourites in the home series against Australia that gets underway from today, but cricket columnist Peter Roebuck believes that Smith and company will still need to adjust to the pressure brought on by the opposing side.
"To the victor, will go the highest position in the Test rankings, a position the visitors have held since the previous century. If the hosts can take the spoils then, for the first time since the deconstruction of apartheid, they will rightly be proclaimed as the strongest outfit around, with India their main challengers. If the Australians pull it off, then their tenacity will be praised," Roebuck writes in a Sydney Morning Herald article.
He further goes on to say that in theory the Australians "do not have a cat in hell's chance of beating their hosts."
"A role reversal has occurred. South Africa named their side for their first two Tests several weeks ago. It was the same side that had played Down Under. The Proteas had the confidence and depth to omit a batsman as proven and resourceful as Ashwell Prince, their vice-captain no less. Only one of the incumbents had been shaky in the Antipodes, and he opened the batting. It was a ruthless decision taken by an ambitious opponent," says Roebuck.
"Smith's side has experience and energy, a potent fast bowler, a long list of confident batsmen, and immense fortitude. Moreover, they will be playing on their own pitches and in front of their own trenchant supporters," he adds.
In contrast, the Australians have been discarding players. Previously, the visitors could name their side for an entire series; now they are wondering about this bloke's back and that bloke's tweakers.
Their bowling and batting has been reshuffled and altered.
"Clearly, they were missing the killer instinct. All sorts of distractions had cropped up," Roebuck opines about the Australians.
Having said that, he believes that the Australians have sorted most of their issues.
"It is a fresher side, with an excited opening batsman and a better-balanced pace attack. Now, Australia have a handful of speedsters bursting at the gate," he says.
The mood in the visiting camp will be the key to how the series unfolds, Roebuck concludes. (ANI)