Australia lock horns with old rivals South Africa

Gary Kirsten will be in charge of his home nation for the first time after a successful stint with India Getty Images

Cape Town: Oct 11, 2011

Two of cricket’s great rival nations will engage in what amounts to three extended sparring sessions as they try new combinations during Australia’s six-week tour of South Africa which begins Thursday with a Twenty20 international here at Newlands.

There are two Twenty20 games, three one-day internationals and two Tests, which scarcely gives the teams a chance to get to grips with each other, especially as there are likely to be numerous personnel changes for each format.

Twenty20 captain Cameron White will spend just over a week in the country before flying home, leaving recently appointed one-day and Test captain Michael Clarke in charge for the rest of the tour. White will be accompanied by seven of his T20 teammates, with only six of the players remaining for the 50-over games.

South Africa will have a new captain in Hashim Amla for the T20s and one-day matches – and he will be leading the side only because new skipper AB de Villiers was injured while practicing for the Champions League Twenty20 in India. Both teams have new coaches.

Former South African Test batsman Gary Kirsten will be in charge of his home nation for the first time after a successful stint with India. His Australian counterpart will be Troy Cooley, who was named interim coach following the resignation of Tim Nielsen last month after the country’s tour of Sri Lanka.

The only leadership constant is that Graeme Smith is expected to captain the South African Test side, although he is feeling his way back into the game after undergoing knee surgery. He made a rare appearance in club cricket to prepare for his appearances as a player only in the Twenty20 and one-day internationals.

Australia, in particular, will be fielding some relatively untried youngsters such as fast bowlers Patrick Cummins, Mitchell Marsh and James Pattinson, who have been picked for the Twenty20 squad. Cummins and Pattinson will stay on for the one-day fixtures. The Test squad has not been picked.

South Africa’s limited overs squads have a more familiar look, although hard-hitting Western Cape Cobras batsman Richard Levi, 23, is a new cap in the Twenty20 squad. There will be five changes between the two squads, with experienced players such as Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Dale Steyn returning for the 50-over games. (AFP)