Mitchell Starc
Mitchell Starc

Queenslanders should rejoice at short Test series

THERE are people on either side of the Indian Ocean complaining we only get a three-Test series against South Africa this summer.

But I'm not one of them.

The reason for the shorter series is the Africans got sick of turning up here for Boxing Day and New Year's Tests every few years without us returning the favour.

The Melbourne and Sydney Tests are too valuable for Australia not to be playing on home soil at those times.

But I'm a glass-half-full kind of guy, particularly when my own self-interest is being served.

And it is because for the first time in 50-odd years, the South Africans will play at the Gabba as a result of the impasse.

Yes, five Tests between these two countries is a mouth-watering prospect.

Unless we're three-nil down after three Tests (that glass isn't looking quite as full).

But it was about time the Gabba got to host the best in the world.

Ashes series aside, the Gabba has welcomed NZ three times in the past eight summers, the West Indies twice and Sri Lanka.

No India since 2003 and no South Africa.

The reason is when the Test summer is split into two separate three-Test series, which is increasingly the norm, Brisbane gets the lesser of the two tours because Sydney and Melbourne are guaranteed the main event.

Not so this summer and it remains to be seen what sort of crowds they will draw to the SCG and MCG to see Sri Lanka.

Either way it is a chance for Queenslanders to vote with their feet to give themselves a better chance of hosting some other decent teams in the future.

The South African pace attack is being rated by some the best since the lethal West Indians a generation ago.

But if Australian young guns James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc can continue on their early career form, the South Africans may not hold that claim-to-fame for long.

Starc seems to be behind Pattinson, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus but I suspect it won't last long.

There is something about big, fast left-armers that scares the bejesus out of most batsmen.

The impact Mitchell Johnston had on South African captain Graeme Smith last time he toured here (breaking his thumb) is a prime example and Starc has the potential to be better than Johnston at his short-lived peak.

It is understandable faith has been put in elder statesmen Siddle and Hilfenhaus.

They've done the job admirably in the past, when our fast bowling stocks looked much barer, and provide experienced heads to balance the youth of Pattinson and Starc.

But don't be surprised if by the end of the third Test, Starc and Pattinson are being spoken about in the same terms as South African stars Dale Steyne and Vernon Philander.

Then just wait until Pat Cummins gets fit.

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