Aussies take a day off before Sydney Test


Sydney : Australia have taken a day off from cricket to mentally prepare themselves for the face-saving third cricket Test against South Africa starting here Saturday.

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Australia, who have already lost the home series, have announced a rest day Thursday.

South Africa, desperate to record a 3-0 whitewash against Australia, will train at the SCG nets Thursday after two days of partying to celebrate New Year and their nine-wicket win in Melbourne Tuesday.

The dead-rubber match carries plenty of significance for both sides.

Australia will be forced to hand over top ranking to South Africa if they lose the series 3-0 and it would be Australia’s first whitewash defeat in a Test series in 122 years.

“It’s a pretty big deal. Australia have been No.1 for a very long time,” pace bowler Mitchell Johnson was quoted as saying in The Sydney Morning Herald.

“We’ve been outplayed in the series and in India we were outplayed as well. We’ve got a bit of work to do. I still think we’re a very strong cricketing nation.”

“The young guys who are coming through, it does take time to make your stamp at the top level. But I’m pretty confident with what we’ve got, with our back-up, we are (looking) pretty good,” Johnson said.

Johnson has bowled more than 100 overs in the past two Tests against South Africa as Australia struggle with several injury concerns, including Brett Lee (foot and ankle), who has been ruled out of the Sydney Test and February’s tour of South Africa.

“I’m pretty exhausted but we have a couple of days off now,” Johnson said.

“I’ll put my feet up and ring in the New Year, see the fireworks. I’ll be right for the game Saturday,” he said.

Opener Matthew Hayden, who has retained his place in the team despite poor form this summer, needs a special knock at SCG to book himself a place in the squad to tour South Africa.