Steve Smith expects Australia’s Test batsmen to face a stern examination from a menacing Proteas pace unit during their tour of South Africa.
Smith’s side will be aiming to maintain its dominant record in the rainbow nation when it arrives on February 15 for a four-Test series.
Australia has not lost a Test series in South Africa since the Proteas’ readmission to international cricket in 1991 but will come up against one of the most dangerous attacks in world cricket.
Veteran spearhead Dale Steyn is racing against time to recover from a heel injury before the first Test in Durban starting on March 1.
But his absence proved to be no impediment during the Proteas’ recent series victory over India with Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and newcomer Lungi Ngidi forming a lethal attack on pace-friendly pitches.
“I’ve seen little bits and pieces (of the India series),” Smith said in Melbourne on Tuesday.
“I think it’s going to be a really exciting series. Two good pace attacks going at it.
“Batting’s going to be hard work.
“They’ve got some good bowlers and we’re going to have to show some good fight and good resilience out in the middle against their quicks, and (Keshav) Maharaj as well, who’s come a long way as a spinner.”
India turned the tables on its hosts during a savage third Test in Johannesburg in which several batsmen copped nasty blows and the umpires considered calling the match off due to the “dangerous” pitch.
Smith noted that his own potent attack of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins could cash in on green-topped decks.
“They could go a couple of different ways with their wickets,” he said.
“For us, it’s just about adapting to whatever they throw at us.
“I guess the thing with Australia and South Africa is the conditions are probably the two most similar around the world.
“The wickets are generally pretty similar and the pace and bounce. From that aspect it’s (easier to adjust).”
Smith has been given a break ahead of the tour with stand-in captain David Warner the only member of the Test side who will play in the Twenty20 tri-series against England and New Zealand.
Finding a way to lighten the packed summer schedule will be particularly important with Australia to host the next World T20 tournament.
“I think over the next couple of years before (2020) there are quite a few T20 internationals that everyone will be available for, which is great,” Smith said.
“It’s obviously not ideal right now … it’s been that way for a couple of years, which is disappointing.”