South Africa gear up for Australia’s spin in Perth’s searing heat

South Africa

As they front up to the daunting challenge of playing Australia in a Test match for the first time, South Africa will step onto an iconic WACA ground famously known for fiery pace bowling

But spin is expected to play a major factor with South Africa preparing to face an Australian team likely to feature three frontline spinners. Ashleigh Gardner and legspinner Alana King, who relishes the bounce of her home ground, are locks with recalled Sophie Molineux set to battle Jess Jonassen for the third spot.

Experienced seamer Megan Schutt has been included in the squad, but a return to Test cricket appears unlikely with a dry surface expected amid searing heat through the match.

Perth, Australia’s sunniest city, has been in the grips of a heatwave with 42 degrees celsius forecast on day one. Domestic matches at the WACA this season have been mostly bowler-dominated with sharp turn and bounce evident. In last week’s Sheffield Shield match between Western Australia and New South Wales, spinners Chris Green and Corey Rocchiccioli combined for 16 wickets.

There is the added layer of uncertainty over the surface that will be used for the Test match. Smack back in the middle of the ground, the pitch has not been used this season due to the growth of the grass being affected by Australian rules football – which is played at the WACA during the winter months.

All those factors mean South Africa have used some of their limited preparation – with no time available for a practice match – to devise ways to curb Australia’s spinners.

“We did discuss that there should be a bit of turn,” allrounder Nadine de Klerk told reporters in Perth. “I do actually think our team is a side that plays spin quite well. We’ve adapted quite well the last couple of years. We’ve played a lot of subcontinent teams, so I think we do play spin well and hopefully we can use that to our advantage.”

Armed with impressive young seamers, including de Klerk who bowled well in the T20I and ODI series, South Africa are still expecting pace to have an impact during this contest as they play just their second Test match in a decade.

“The WACA is known for being quite quick and bouncy,” de Klerk said. “I think that’s what we’re going to expect. I assume there will be some seam movement.

“It’s going to be a great challenge for us. Obviously, it’s unknown territory for us. We haven’t had a lot of it [Test cricket], but we’re looking forward to going against them and it’s gonna be a great challenge for us as a side.”

Australia are well stocked with seam and spin options as they look to clinch the mult-series outright after taking an 8-4 lead following the white-ball matches.

“It’s going to be pretty hot…bit unsure what it [the pitch] will do on day one, but I think we’ve got the bowling attack to take 20 wickets,” Australia batter Beth Mooney said.

“We’ve got great spinners in our line-up and great options. Traditionally this year it’s [the WACA] been a tough wicket to bat on.”

Having starred at No. 4 in the shorter formats, Mooney is set to return to the top of the order alongside Phoebe Litchfield.

“Really excited about the challenge and working through a pretty interesting wicket,” she said. “I feel like if my game is in order come Thursday, then hopefully I can contribute to success.”

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