Australia relying on rookies

Tourists plump for inexperienced bowling attack at the Wanderers

Last Updated: 26/02/09 11:12am

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Smith (left) and Ponting

Smith (left) and Ponting

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Australia have named three potential debutants in their 12-man squad for the first Test of the return series against South Africa, which starts at the Wanderers on Thursday.

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"It's pretty much all for the faster bowlers here, particularly swing bowlers, given the pitch is a bit soft and the (cloudy) skies that are around."
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Opening batsman Phillip Hughes, all-rounder Marcus North and swing bowler Ben Hilfenhaus are all included as Ricky Ponting's troops seek to avenge their home series defeat to the same opponents at the turn of the year.

Spinners Nathan Hauritz and Bryce McGain have been omitted - Australia's bowling attack will be led by 18-Test veteran Mitchell Johnson and rookie seamer Peter Siddle, supplemented by three of Doug Bollinger, Hilfenhaus, medium pacer Andrew McDonald and part-time off-spinner North.

"It's going to be a great challenge, in particular for the younger guys," Ponting said. "We played some very good cricket at times in Australia but not enough to put a very good South African side away."

Ponting is expecting the wicket at the Wanderers to aid his inexperienced seamers and remains upbeat despite the recent 2-1 reverse on home soil.

Lively pitch

"It's pretty much all for the faster bowlers here, particularly swing bowlers, given the pitch is a bit soft and the (cloudy) skies that are around," added the Tasmanian.

"Spin bowlers don't have a very good record here.

"In the two Test matches that we lost in Australia we played very good cricket and dominated at certain times.

"But unfortunately we weren't good enough to put a very good South African team away."

South Africa appear certain to stick with the same starting XI that played all three Tests in Australia.

Prince dethroned

Vice captain Ashwell Prince was left out of a 12-man squad despite having recovered from his broken hand, meaning JP Duminy - who averaged 61.50 in Australia - will continue at number six.

Uncapped left-arm seamer Lonwabo Tsotsobe is set to carry the drinks.

"It would be a good, satisfying feeling to be number one and it would be a sign of our success," said Proteas skipper Graeme Smith, whose side can overtake Australia at the top of the International Cricket Council Test rankings during the three-Test series.

"We've taken a lot of confidence out of (winning in) Australia but there's definitely a feeling of feet on the ground and wanting to achieve more.

"If we can beat them at home that will be a comprehensive beating of Australia home and away - and that's something we really want to achieve."

South Africa (from): G Smith (capt), N McKenzie, H Amla, J Kallis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, M Boucher (wkt), M Morkel, P Harris, D Steyn, M Ntini, L Tsotsobe

Australia (from): R Ponting (capt), P Hughes, S Katich, M Clarke, M Hussey, A McDonald, M North, B Haddin (wkt), M Johnson, P Siddle, D Bollinger, B Hilfenhaus

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