South Africa is expecting a typically bruising examination from Australia in the three-Test series next month, but the Proteas have also detected that the Australians are no longer the mouthy bunch of previous years.
With the November series taking place against the back-drop of the recently concluded inquest into the death of Phil Hughes, there is a feeling that perhaps the Tests may be somewhat less verbose than normal.
Australian captain Steve Smith said ahead of his team’s One-Day series in this country that he wanted to see his side adopt a more aggressive tone on the field, feeling that during the Test series in Sri Lanka recently, they were too quiet.
There were a few verbal exchanges during the ODIs here with South Africa’s Tabraiz Shamsi and Imran Tahir and Australia’s wicket-keeper Matthew Wade all copping fines. But those incidents were exceptions in a series largely played in good spirits.
The Tests Down Under will be different with Australia welcoming back some senior bowlers, but Faf du Plessis isn’t expecting anything untoward from the Australia, in fact explaining that the current Australian side is nowhere near as verbally aggressive as their predecessors.
“I remember when I started playing against Australia, the guys who competed then, they competed by being verbal. If you look at the Australian team right now, their personalities have changed,” he said.
“They don’t have those aggressive guys that’s at you the whole day, swearing the whole day. We play a similar brand of cricket, we are very competitive but we respect each from a personal stand-point.”
The Hughes inquiry has shone the spotlight on the aggressive competition that takes place on the field, which has caused plenty of controversy in Australia.
“It’s quite sensitive what’s going on with the Phil Hughes inquiry, but I don’t think it will have any effect on how the game is played. The teams have great respect for each other, it will be very competitive on the field, I’m pretty sure there’ll be no extra stuff done or said before or after the game.
The South African team arrived in Adelaide yesterday to start preparations for the series, which opens with a Test at the Waca in Perth on November 3.
The Proteas will play two warm-up games ahead of the first Test, with a day/night match at the Adelaide Oval this weekend giving them the chance to acclimatise to using the pink ball under lights ahead of the historic day/night Test at the same venue starting on November 24. They then head to the seaside suburb of Glenelg for another two day game before heading to Perth.
Du Plessis said special attention will be given to preparation against left-arm fast bowling in anticipation of facing Mitchell Starc. “Starc is a huge bowler for them,” said Du Plessis.
“We’ll need to make sure we get good prep in with left arm quicks. He’s obviously someone who can crank it up and then obviously he’s very good with reverse swing.
“We’ve got to make sure that as a Test team we get back into the rhythm of being patient with really good disciplines. The success for our Test team has been about that ... we are prepared to knuckle down and when the opportunity arises to put pressure on the opposition we do that very well.”