sa all over the Aussies

PERTH - As day one of the eagerly awaited cricket Test series between South Africa and Australia drew to a close at the Waca yesterday, it was possible to see some of the likely themes of the tour emerge from an enthralling day's play.

PERTH - As day one of the eagerly awaited cricket Test series between South Africa and Australia drew to a close at the Waca yesterday, it was possible to see some of the likely themes of the tour emerge from an enthralling day's play.

South Africa's preparation after Ricky Ponting had won the toss and chosen to bat was meticulous. The bowlers, often bowling in short bursts, frequently changed ends and bowled both over and around the wicket to carefully placed fields, though after tea they let it slip slightly, bowling indifferently.

The strategy of frequently changing your bowlers has the theoretical advantage of never allowing the batsmen - particularly Simon Katich (83) and Michael Clarke (62), who shared an invaluable third-wicket partnership of 149, the best of the innings - to settle down.

The negative consequence of this was that Proteas captain Graeme Smith didn't always allow his bowlers to find a rhythm. Only spinner Paul Harris was allowed the luxury of a really long spell.

Harris used the prevailing conditions magnificently in the middle session, bowling an uninterrupted eight overs. Before lunch he got one to bounce over Clarke's bat as the batsman attempted a forward defensive and later, in the hot dry hours of the afternoon, he managed to induce the same batsman into lofting a drive to his skipper at mid-on.

The dismissal, just after Clarke had lost Katich for a fanatically watchful innings of 83, had the air of a plan being hatched on a whiteboard in the team's Perth Hyatt Hotel.

Graeme Smith's field placing was also precise .

For the left-handers - Matthew Hayden, Katich and Michael Hussey - Hashim Amla tucked into backward square-leg; for Clarke he positioned himself at short-cover. There were always variations.

The expeditionary force to the land of Oz has clearly worked very hard on planning the campaign. - Avusa Group Cricket Correspondent

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