Reverse king Starc looms as trump yet again
AUSTRALIA were pounded in their previous Test at Port Elizabeth but it's a match that should give Mitchell Starc an extra shot of confidence this weekend.
Not that Starc needs it, coming off a man-of-the-match performance in which he snagged nine wickets and slapped a quick-fire 35 with the bat.
Starc's reverse-swing masterclass played a pivotal role in Australia taking a 1-0 lead in the four-Test series.
The left-armer grabbed five wickets in a single session on day two in Durban then a triple-wicket maiden on day four.
The series continues from 6pm (AEST) on Friday at St George's Park.
It is the same venue where Dale Steyn rattled Australia with reverse-swing in 2014, starring in an incredible collapse that featured nine wickets in a single session - including Steve Smith for a golden duck.
Skipper Smith and Faf du Plessis agree reverse-swing will again be crucial in the second Test of the current series.
"Looking at the wicket I think it'll play somewhat similar to the Durban wicket. I think it will be quite slow, it will take reverse-swing," Smith said.
"Hopefully he (Starc) can have the same role he had in Durban. He bowled beautifully and got the ball reversing.
"The other guys (Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Mitch Marsh) are good reverse bowlers as well ... I see it being a big player again in this game."
Du Plessis suggested the weather would partly shape how unplayable Starc is with the old ball.
"If it is cloudy, wet and overcast it's tricky to get the ball to reverse. It's when you get the dry wind that blows across, that's when you get the opportunity to reverse-swing the ball," du Plessis said.
"He bowled really well (in Durban).
"The angle is something we spoke about. He comes from a really wide angle, wider than you would expect from a normal bowler, and it's just about adapting to that."
Proteas coach Ottis Gibson described Starc as "the difference" in Durban.
"Often you do a lot of homework on a guy and then he has a special day or game like he did against us and that can happen," Gibson said.
"Hopefully we'll be better prepared for him this time around."