Australia out to replace South Africa as Test cricket's No 1 side
Last Updated: 07/11/12 3:09pm
Ed Cowan: Set to open against South Africa in Brisbane
Australia go into Friday's first Test with South Africa in Brisbane aiming to replace the tourists as the world number one Test side.
South Africa knocked England off the top spot in the summer, but the Proteas could lose it to Australia if they lose the three-Test series.
Ricky Ponting looks likely to bat at No 4 in a new-look Australia batting line-up with - in the absence of injured Shane Watson - David Warner and Ed Cowan opening and debutant left-hander Rob Quiney at No 3.
Ponting has recovered from a hamstring injury and will be able to play, whilst for the tourists Jacques Kallis has shaken off a bout of flu.
Ponting says he has faith in what will be a relatively raw top three: "Experience-wise, yes, it's probably not what we're used to in the Australian team but skill-wise, know-how wise and technique-wise, they're fine.
"I think they're all very good players. Ed looked right at home when he first came into the Australian Test team.
"Davey's had moments of brilliance we've all seen and if he can have that through this series then he'll set up games for us very, very quickly.
"I've watched Rob pretty closely over the last few weeks, played a Shield game against him two weeks ago, watched a bit of his innings last week in Sydney and a bit in the nets the last couple of days. He, to me, looks like someone who's in control of his game. He's got a lot of cricket under his belt."
South Africa captain Graeme Smith says his team faces a big challenge to retain the number one spot: "Touring Australia is always tough and the battle for number one probably makes it an even more anticipated series.
"We have the self-confidence of knowing that we have the players that can step up when needed, especially after beating England away from home."
"We need to play good cricket if we are going to retain our number one Test ranking. We have the self-confidence of knowing that we have the players that can step up when needed, especially after beating England away from home."
Australia have not lost at the Gabba for 24 years but if the wicket proves to have as much bounce as the groundsman has predicted, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander and Kallis should have the edge over the hosts' pace attack.
Pat Cummins, Australia's fastest bowler, is out of the series with injury, so the hosts will either send out an all-pace attack of Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson and Mitch Starc, or replace one of them - with Starc the likely fall-guy - with spinner Nathan Lyon.