Cricket: South African bats no better than India - Ponting

Ricky Ponting trains ahead of the first test against South Africa in Brisbane. Photo / Getty Images
Ricky Ponting trains ahead of the first test against South Africa in Brisbane. Photo / Getty Images

They might have the best pace bowling battery in world cricket but South Africa's batting line-up has left Ricky Ponting nonplussed, the former captain saying the Proteas bats were no better than those in an Indian side embarrassed by Australia last season.

The home side demolished the touring Indians 4-0, the visitors' bats a huge letdown as they failed to top 200 on four occasions while slumping to two innings defeats and another by 298 runs.

While the South Africans, on paper, appear much stronger with four of the world's top seven-rated batsmen - including three of the top five in Hashim Amla (2nd), Jacques Kallis (4th), and AB de Villiers (5th) - Ponting wasn't exactly in awe.

"I don't see their batting line-up being any stronger than India's was last year and the attack we put out last year will be very similar to what we go with on Friday," Ponting said on Wednesday.

"It doesn't matter what the batting line-up is, we'll take 20 wickets in a Test.

He added: "You can expect some fireworks (from their bowlers). Some of their top-order batsman can expect a lot of short balls as well which is an area we think we can really attack them."

Much has been made of South Africa's pace triumvirate of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel but former Proteas quick Allan Donald said on Wednesday Australia's attack would cancel them out this series.

He was so impressed with the direction Australia was headed, he felt the team could soon have a group good enough to rival the great Steve Waugh-led side that once dominated world cricket.

"No question about it. It won't take long for this team to establish itself and be a huge force in world cricket," Donald told AAP on Wednesday.

"The good thing is that they have young bowlers queuing up to get into this team.

"It's a great match-up between two fantastic bowling attacks. It's going to be a case of who bats better that is going to be the difference."

Australia's own fast bowling great Glenn McGrath wasn't quite as sanguine.

He agreed batting would prove the key - but hinted Australia might be found wanting.

"Australia will have to play out of their shoes to match South Africa," he said.

"South Africa have no real weakness. They deserve to be No.1."

However, McGrath and Donald believed any team with Ponting on board should never be discounted.

"He's a fighter - he is never going to give up. Him and Michael Clarke really hold the team together along with Mike Hussey - they will have to do the business," McGrath said.

Meanwhile, Australian captain Clarke didn't need any convincing about the bona fides of his side's attack on Wednesday.

Clarke was forced to ice his hand for 20 minutes following a bowl-off in the nets as quicks James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Ben Hilfenhaus all staked a claim to partner Peter Siddle for the first Test at the Gabba starting on Friday.

- AAP

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