Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood will have to work overtime for wickets in Durban.
Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood will have to work overtime for wickets in Durban.

Low and slow! Pitch not perfect for Aussie quicks

THE upcoming pace shootout between Australia and South Africa could be sullied by slow pitches, with Nathan Lyon quipping his homeland is the only country where curators enjoy autonomy.


The four-Test series starting on Thursday is being billed as a battle between the two best pace attacks in the world.


Surfaces in Durban, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Johannesburg will shape whether the contest lives up to the hype.


South Africa asked for pitches with plenty of pace and bounce during India's recent tour, leading to early finishes and a Test at the Wanderers almost being abandoned because of safety concerns.


The expectation is Steve Smith's side will be greeted with far more docile decks during their visit, although Proteas coach Ottis Gibson says his side have made no requests to groundsmen.


"I know all the curators in Australia would tell us where to go if we tried to suggest to take all the grass off and make it spin," Lyon said in Durban.


"It is what it is these days, you see it all around the world (teams influencing curators).


"In Australia we don't do it, I know that for a fact.


"I'm expecting flatter wickets than they had for the Indian series, especially with the bowling attacks floating around."


Kingsmead, where the action begins this week, has long been renowned as the home of the green mamba - a strip as venomous as the snake species inhabiting nearby forests.


Proteas opener Dean Elgar noted that reputation is now outdated.


"Durban's wickets have changed over the years," Elgar said.


"I haven't played a game here since the last Test against England (2016), that was quite low and slow.


"I don't see it being too dissimilar to what we had against England."


Lyon, who worked as a groundsman at Adelaide Oval prior to becoming Australia's most prolific offspinner, is keeping an open mind about the wicket.


"Hopefully it will spin ... it looks like a pretty good pitch," the world's leading Test wicket-taker in 2017 said.


"We're just going to have to assess the conditions and go for it. It's the same for both sides."


Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins have already vowed to continue the bouncer barrage they successfully unleashed against England.

Nathan Lyon could have a big role to play in Durban.
Nathan Lyon could have a big role to play in Durban.


Veteran spearhead Dale Steyn remains sidelined by a heel injury but the Proteas boast match-winning quicks in Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel.


Elgar suggested left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj also had a big role to play.


"Against Australia you potentially have to slow the game down," Elgar said.

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