Steve Smith has declared Australia will fight fire with fire during a Test series in South Africa that looms as a showdown between two world-class pace attacks.
The Australian squad has arrived in Johannesburg for the first of four Tests, with Smith predicting both sides’ batsmen will be pushed to the limit in pace-friendly conditions.
But his absence proved no impediment during the Proteas’ recent series victory over India with Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and newcomer Lungi Ngidi forming a lethal attack.
Australia’s formidable attack of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins delivered plenty of bouncers during the Ashes, and Smith said they wouldn’t hesitate to maintain that approach.
“I think they’ll go down a similar path,” the Australian captain said. “I think there could be some good short-pitched bowling throughout the series, to batters, to the tail, everyone from both sides.
“I don’t think a great deal changes there.”
India turned the tables on their hosts during a savage third Test in Johannesburg in which several batsmen copped nasty blows and the umpires considered calling the match off due to the “dangerous” pitch. But far from being apprehensive about the conditions, Smith said he would relish facing the Proteas quicks.
“I think it’s really exciting and the batters should be looking forward to this series,” he said.
“You love going up against good pace and those sorts of challenges. It’s going to be a fantastic series for the viewers to watch.”
The Australians will be aiming to maintain a dominant recent record in South Africa, having not lost a Test series there since the Proteas’ readmission to international cricket in 1991.
“I think for us as a whole, we’re coming off the back of a pretty good Ashes campaign at home,” Smith said. “We’ve played some really good cricket and hopefully we can keep that up here in South Africa.
“The message to the boys is one good series doesn’t make a great team. You need to keep backing it up day-in, day-out in different conditions.”
While one Australian team is preparing for a Test series in South Africa, another is gearing up to play New Zealand in the final of the T20 tri-nation series in Auckland on Wednesday.
New Zealand last night qualified for the final despite losing their final round-robin match to England by two runs in Hamilton.
England scored 7-194 batting first, but having lost earlier to New Zealand they needed to win by 20 runs to make the final on a run-rate basis.
New Zealand, with half-centuries by Colin Munro and Martin Guptill, made 4-192.