CRICKET: Impressive Australian debutant Alex Doolan has issued an ominous warning for South Africa ahead of tomorrow's second Test in Port Elizabeth - his side still has plenty of improving to do.
The Aussies were ruthless in every area against the Proteas in their 281-run thrashing in the first Test in Centurion.
Paceman Mitchell Johnson tore the hosts apart with 12 wickets for the match, while Shaun Marsh, Steve Smith and David Warner posted centuries.
Doolan scored a brilliant 89 in the second innings and looked totally at ease facing South Africa's feared attack including Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel.
The Aussies were also brilliant in the field, compared to some sloppy work from their No.1-ranked opponents.
Doolan said coach Darren Lehmann is constantly pushing his troops to keep their standards high.
"We just need to keep getting better - that's our mantra. It has been now since Boof (Lehmann) took over," the Tasmanian said.
"We'll be back into the nets after travelling to PE (Port Elizabeth) and we'll be trying to get better than what we were in this Test.
"I think we played very well and ticked a lot of boxes when it comes to our KPIs, but it wasn't the perfect game by any stretch.
"We'll be looking at trying to get better and staying ahead of the game."
Doolan's Test debut was a long time in the making - he is 28 and toured with the Australia A side for two years, before finally getting a well-deserved Baggy Green.
"It certainly hardened me as a person knowing that to get picked in these teams you need to be scoring big runs and be contributing in all facets of the game," he said.
Doolan went into the first Test with a firm belief he could handle the express pace of Steyn, and the precision of Philander - the No.2 and No.1 bowlers in the world, respectively.
As a near-unknown commodity during South Africa's Down Under in 2012, Doolan scored an unbeaten 161 against them in Australia A colours.
"I was a little bit familiar having faced Vernon and Dale," Doolan said.
"I knew what to expect from those guys. Totally different conditions and expectations, but it gave me a little bit of confidence."
Despite all-rounder Shane Watson being almost ready to return from a calf injury, Doolan is set to play in second Test, after his effort with the bat - and in the field, highlighted by his two superb second-innings catches - in the series-opener. "If I get another chance then it'll be up to me to make sure I'm improving and working hard to nail down that number three spot," he said.
- APN SPORTS BUREAU
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.