If the Proteas thought they were going to get off lightly due to Australia having already secured qualification for World Cup semi-finals, they are in for a rude awakening here on Saturday.
The Aussies, famous for resting up their big fast bowlers, have no intention of giving the in-form Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins any form of break ahead of the semis, even with their playoff potentially just two days after the dead-rubber clash against the eliminated Proteas.
Left-arm opening bowler Starc is once-again in red-hot form – just like he was four years ago at home - and currently leads the tournament bowling charts with 24 wickets at 15.54. Cummins also has 12 scalps at 27.25, which is equal to South Africa’s top wicket-taker Chris Morris.
Assistant coach Brad Haddin believes that resting the duo now would only break their momentum, and that they simply need to keep on firing.
“A lot of planning goes into a World Cup to ensure the guys are peaking at the right time. It will be really hard to rest Starc and Cummins right now. They have a really good rhythm about them at the moment. These decisions aren’t taken lightly, but my gut feeling would be that it would be really hard to rest them in a massive campaign like the World Cup,” Haddin said.
South Africa could certainly take lessons from their Aussie counterparts in regards to the management of their fast bowling contingent, and getting them to peak at major tournaments like the World Cup.
Admittedly Starc has been injured for long periods since the last World Cup, but unlike South Africa’s pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada that plays almost every game of every bilateral series and also the Indian Premier League, there has always been a plan to have the big Australian in peak condition here in the United Kingdom.
"You never like to see players get injured, but it was probably a good thing," Haddin said. "It let him reset where he was and he has come back fit and strong and we're getting the rewards for being injured for a few months."
"He's gone through stages in 2015 where no matter what he did turned to gold. It looks like he is one of those passages of form at the moment. He's done a lot of work going into the tournament."
And unlike Rabada that has struggled to hit his yorkers like he did with such precision at the IPL just a couple of months ago, Starc is smashing them into the base of the stumps with unerring accuracy. Just ask England’s Ben Stokes after the all-rounder’s timber was demolished at Lord’s last week.
"One thing I have been impressed with Mitch has been the length he's been bowling. He's got that unbelievable yorker and he can go through a tail and a middle of the game really quick. I've been impressed with has been how he's using the new ball. He's got that length right and a lot of work has gone in to that," Haddin said.