Steve Smith will aim to counter-attack South Africa in the same fashion that twice steadied Australia’s bid for an Ashes whitewash.
Smith enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2013, returning to the Test team after a two-year hiatus and playing all 10 matches in the back-to-back Ashes.
The 24-year-old cracked his maiden Test century at The Oval in August, then delivered sterling tons in Australia’s rare hours of need in the return series.
In Perth, he and Brad Haddin put on a 124-run stand to rescue the hosts after they were reduced to 5-143.
At the SCG, it was a 128-run partnership between the pair that set Australia on track for yet another big win after they had slumped to 5-97 early on day one.
It’s the perfect sort of form to take into a three-Test series in South Africa where runs will be at a premium and collapses are on the cards.
“That was the most pleasing thing for me back home, to get two hundreds in probably the two toughest (batting) conditions in that series,” Smith said.
“I can take a lot out of that … I was just patient and left the ball well, and waited until they got in my areas where I knew I could score.
“Coming here, it’s going to be quite similar. I think with the pace and bounce in the decks, the balls that are a bit shorter you’ll be able to leave.
“It’s just a matter of waiting until you get the balls in your areas.”
Smith agreed that might take longer than it did against England, given the precision of Vernon Philander and Dale Steyn.
“We’re going to have to keep them out in the field for as long as possible. Get them as tired as possible, and hopefully then we can get a few balls that we like,” he said.
“I think the last Test in Australia was a fine example, when Hadds came out to bat and just took it away from the opposition on a wicket that was doing quite a bit.
“You can certainly put the pressure back on them and try and make them do something different.”