Five ways Australia should counter South Africa at Hobart
An embarrassing start at Perth means Australia are playing to stay alive in the series when the sides take on each other at Hobart.
Australia's wretched run in Tests continued even at home, as the Proteas thrashed them at their happy hunting ground, Perth, in the first Test of the three-match series. As Australia prepare for the second Test at Hobart, Lehmann and Smith will be reflecting on what went wrong for them at Perth after a terrific start on Day 1.
They have not had the best of runs against South Africa at home since 2008, but bowling out the Proteas for a low score in the first innings and starting off with a 150 run opening stand was just the beginning they needed. But then what hit them?
Steyn had walked off injured after dismissing their key man, Warner. It should have worked to Australia's advantage that they were a bowler down. Instead they found themselves collapsing like a pack of cards against Philander, Rabada and a debutant spinner, Maharaj.
They would not want a repeat of the mistakes they did at Perth when they start afresh in Hobart and for that Smith has to make up a few solid plans to counter the Proteas. They may be without their main batsman and bowler in De Villiers and Steyn, but, as they displayed at Perth, they are a dangerous side with players capable of chipping in timely.
I decided to step into Smith's shoes and here is a list of five things I feel the Aussies need to plan and execute in Hobart to level this series.
#5 Man up the middle order
Let's face it, the Aussies are no longer a side that bats deep and have a strong middle order. There is little promise to show in that middle order after the likes of Warner and Smith. There are Voges and Khawaja, good Test players capable of batting long, and Khawaja, in particular, showcased glimpses of his ability in the second innings at Perth.
After Voges though, who should have a chat with Lehmann about how to redeem his form, there is little hope. Mitchell Marsh’s last decent Test knock does not even come to memory and Peter Nevill, though he played a good role in the second innings, does not look like a decent bet with the bat but he will be retained as he is the keeper. But considering they have reinforcements in Ferguson and Burns, one of them should come in for Mitchell Marsh.
Since Shaun is out injured, there is place for both of them in the squad and I feel Mitchell Marsh looks out of place at no.6 in the Test line-up. One solution would be to open with Burns and bring in Ferguson at 6.