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South Africa Test prep washed out

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Australia are hoping for clear skies on Tuesday and a first look at the Centurion pitch for the opening Test against South Africa, although it doesn’t take a degree in horticulture to work out what lies under the covers at SuperSport Park.

The Australian touring party shifted unexpectedly to Johannesburg on Monday after their four-day clash with a South African Invitational XI, scheduled to start on Wednesday in Potchefstroom, was cancelled due to heavy rain.

Wet weather has impacted the side’s training schedule in Potchefstroom since arriving last week.

The absence of a tour game before the first Test is an obvious blow to the visitors’ hopes of upsetting the world’s No.1 Test side.

But coach Darren Lehmann will be imploring his charges to make the most of an early look at Centurion’s conditions.

Given speed is both sides’ strong suit, Australian spearhead Mitchell Johnson is eagerly awaiting the unveiling of an expected green top at Centurion.

“I’m looking forward to bowling on these (South African) wickets again … I do feel a lot more comfortable in these conditions because I feel that they’re very similar to back home,” Johnson said.

“… The wickets over here are very good for fast bowling generally so, usually, you get a bit more pace and bounce.

“Speaking to Michael Clarke yesterday, he said it (Centurion) is quite a fast wicket. He said it may be one of the fastest wickets they’ve got here.”

Proteas coach Russell Domingo’s public request for pace-friendly pitches in this series was chin music to the ears of Johnson.

“That’s fine by us,” he said.

“They’ve got a pretty unbelievable attack and so do we … if they produce wickets like that, then there’s going to be some very exciting cricket.”

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