Pat Cummins to return against South Africa

December 11, 2022 06:59 PM AEDT | By AAPNEWS
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Australian captain Pat Cummins is expected to return but his pace partner Josh Hazlewood is long odds to feature in the Test series opener against South Africa.

The Australians on Monday will name a squad for the first Test against the Proteas starting Saturday in Brisbane.

Captain Cummins is considered a certainty to return from a thigh injury which sidelined him Australia's second Test triumph against the West Indies in Adelaide.

Hazlewood, suffering a side strain, also missed the Adelaide Test which Australia won by 419 runs - their biggest victory, by runs, over the West Indies.

Replacement pacemen Scott Boland (0-29 and 3-16) and Michael Neser (2-34 and 3-22) impressed in Adelaide but one will be squeezed out of the South African opener by Cummins' return.

"We have plenty of options in our cartel at the moment," said Steve Smith, who stood-in as skipper in Cummins' absence.

Smith rated South Africa a different proposition than the West Indies, who barely offered a yelp of resistance in their horror loss in Adelaide.

The Proteas have a renowned bowling attack featuring express quicks Anrich Nortje and Kagiso Rabada, 2.07-metre tall left-armer Marco Jansen and spinner Keshav Maharaj.

"You just play what is in front of you," Smith said.

"Sometimes when you're facing faster bowlers, that can be easier to score than when you are facing 130 (kmh) and nibbling them around.

"That's the key to any attack, is having that variety so you're never getting into a real rhythm as a batter.

"South Africa provide that, they have Nortje bowling 150 (kmh), Rabada 140 to 150 bowling slightly different, then a left-armer in Jansen as well, and then a spinner in Maharaj.

"So it will be a good challenge."

For run-glutton Smith, the South Africans also present a personal challenge.

Besides Bangladesh, who he has played just two Tests against, Smith's average against the Proteas - 41.53 - is his lowest against any nation and well shy of his career average of 60.98.

"South Africa are probably the one team that have bowled well to me," he said.

"My record isn't quite as good against them as some of the others.

"I am really looking forward to the series ... hopefully I can get into a nice groove and contribute and score some runs."


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