The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Australia threatens to end South Africa's golden era, but focuses on here and now

  • Print

PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa - Michael Clarke was tempted by the question. Australia has a chance to mark its first test in Port Elizabeth since 1997 with an era-changing series victory over top-ranked South Africa, something that would underline his team's revival.

Had that been in the Aussie skipper's mind at all in the buildup to the second test at St. George's Park?

"Not yet," Clarke said on Wednesday, the day before the test. But the seed had been planted. "It's very exciting, there's no doubt," he added.

Then catching himself again, Clarke returned to reality. You can't think about winning the series just one test in. And anyway, Australia always took it match by match.

"Against such a good team, if you're not concentrating on the job at hand, you'll find yourself behind in the game and we can't afford that," Clarke said, reluctant to talk up a possible first series win by anyone over South Africa in five years. "I said the same in Australia in the summer. People ask me did you ever imagine you were going to win (the Ashes) 5-0 and you never think about that. We're so focused on each test match."

The bigger picture is pretty clear, though. Probably to Clarke as much as anyone else.

Off the back of a 281-run mauling of the hosts at Centurion, where the South Africans are normally near-invincible and had won five of their six previous tests by an innings, Australia is in strong contention to end the Proteas' unbeaten run.

In Mitchell Johnson, the tourists have the most feared fast bowler in the world and his career-best 12-127 in the first test shook the South Africans to their core no matter what their own positive spin on it is. And Australia has a good history at St. George's Park.

Australia won its last test at the seaside venue 17 years ago when Ian Healy hit a six to wrap up a come-from-behind win after conceding a first-innings deficit of 101. That game has gone down in Australian legend.

Clarke may not like to look too far forward, but he definitely reflected on Australia's previous success at St. George's, and mentioned it on Wednesday. South Africa, meanwhile, has a pretty shaky recent record here.

So on Thursday and the first day of the second test, Australia hopes to "run with the momentum," after the victory at Centurion, Clarke said, because there's no guarantee it'll keep going the Aussies' way.

"In this game, it doesn't last forever," Clarke said. "I'm thrilled that we won the first test. It's a fantastic achievement to beat South Africa on their home soil. That's something we should be very proud of. But that's gone."

South Africa has started some of its recent series slowly. But few as bad as this one. Beaten and beaten up at Centurion, and now without allrounder Ryan McLaren because of the concussion he sustained after being hit on the helmet by a Johnson bouncer, South Africa had one of its worst recent outings at Centurion.

It needed to forget about it pretty quickly, captain Graeme Smith said.

"(We're) not carrying too much baggage from Pretoria," Smith said. "It's important knowing Centurion is behind us, that we're now in Port Elizabeth. That's going to be the crucial mindset."

Smith said South Africa's plans were in place and it wasn't becoming obsessed with the "hype" of Johnson's wicket-taking and raw pace and hostility at SuperSport Park.

"Obviously Mitchell has bowled extremely well, bowled aggressively. We all know that creates headlines, creates stories and creates fanfare," Smith said. "And certainly there's a huge amount of respect in our team for someone who's performing well. But it's important not to get caught up in that."

Forced into at least one change, South Africa is considering batsman Dean Elgar or allrounder Wayne Parnell for McLaren's spot at No. 7.

Australia must judge if allrounder Shane Watson is fit enough to return from a calf injury. Watson was due to train with the squad on Wednesday, Clarke said.

___

Gerald Imray is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Jim Flaherty remembered at visitation as irreplaceable

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Gardening Column- Assiniboine Park English Garden. July 19, 2002.
  • A mother goose has chosen a rather busy spot to nest her eggs- in the parking lot of St Vital Centre on a boulevard. Countless cars buzz by and people have begun to bring it food.-Goose Challenge Day 06 - May 08, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What Western Conference teams will emerge from the first round of the NHL playoffs?

View Results

Ads by Google