Thursday, November 2 from 2.30pm local time, WACA, Perth
ONLINE bookmaker Sportsbet.com.au has ignored Australia’s recent run of bad international form and installed the Aussies as the $1.91 favourites to win Thursday’s opening test against South Africa in Perth.
The Aussies were recently hammered 5-0 in a One Day International series against South Africa and have not beaten South Africa in three attempts at the WACA, nor have they beaten the Proteas in a test series on home soil in ten years.
South Africa is at $3.25 to maintain its unbeaten record at the WACA.
Despite being a completely different format of cricket, South African batsman Faf Du Plessis said recent results give his team a competitive edge heading into the opening test.
“Beating Australia the way we did – really convincingly, not giving them a sniff – will leave a bit of a scar on them mentally,” Du Plessis said.
Australian quick Peter Siddle fired straight back at the South African stand-in captain, saying he is putting unwanted pressure on the team heading into Thursday.
“That’s what I sort of giggled at, reading that article,” Siddle said.
“It’s a totally different side.
“They’re good comments but it puts more pressure on them, by them talking a big game, than it does on us.”
Siddle may be right that the sides are completely different, but Australia’s recent test form is not ideal.
The Aussies suffering a humiliating 3-0 test series loss to Sri Lanka just two months ago, the sixth-ranked test team in the world.
Australian captain Steve Smith believes his team has the ability to turn the poor results around back home.
“I’ve let that go. It wasn’t a great tour and I’ve thought quite a lot about it since coming back home, ways we can improve in those conditions,” Smith said.
“Results haven’t gone our way in the last couple of months, but that’s the game of cricket sometimes. You have to move on and try and improve.
“I was disappointed with the way we played in Sri Lanka, we probably let a few opportunities slip … (but) I’m comfortable with where we’re at back in Australia.
“We’ve played good cricket here in the past and hopefully we can continue to do that.”
South Australian quick gets a debut ahead of Tassie veteran Jackson Bird
Australian selectors have pulled a surprise move as the first test against South Africa approaches, naming South Australian seamer Joe Mennie in the 12-man squad ahead of veteran quick Jackson Bird.
Mennie – who was last year’s Sheffield Shield leading wicket taker – was one of four fast bowlers named in the squad which also features Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Peter Siddle.
The shock selection of the South Australian is underlined by the fact that Sportsbet.com.au as of Friday night do not have Mennie in their most wickets market for Thursday’s opening test in Perth.
Australian chairman of selectors Rod Marsh said Mennie’s ability to score runs at the bottom of the order (over 18 at state level) gave him the nod ahead of Bird.
“(Bird) came very close. Thing that cost him a place was his batting,” Marsh said.
“We’ve got to get runs at the bottom of the order as well”
Mennie’s first class betting record is much better reading than that of Bird, who averages less than nine runs a match and a top score of just 32.
The 27-year-old South Australian said he was not expecting the call up.
“I was warming up before yesterday’s play and Rod (Marsh) told me (about my selection),” Mennie told reporters on Friday.
“I was a bit taken aback. A bit shocked. And I didn’t have time to reflect on it. We went straight out in the middle and started playing. It was good in a way, not having too much time to dwell on it. Last night it had time to sink in and I’m very, very happy.”
Bird was the unlucky man to miss out for the opening test, but according to Marsh some other big names were close to facing the axe.
“There were quite a few blokes that came close to not being selected,” Marsh said.
One man that the chairman of selectors highlighted was Mitch Marsh.
Marsh said nothing short of a productive opening test match from the 25-year-old all-rounder could result in losing his position in the side.
“He needs to bowl well and bat well, Mitch, he really does,”
“Unfortunately in the Shield game he did neither.”
Mitch Marsh is $9.50 at Sportsbet.com.au to be Australia’s top run scorer in the opening test at the WACA.
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