Australia's Brad Haddin acknowledges the crowds applause after scoring a half century against England on Day 1 of the fifth Ashes Test at the SCG.
Australia's Brad Haddin acknowledges the crowds applause after scoring a half century against England on Day 1 of the fifth Ashes Test at the SCG. PAUL MILLER

Aussies need top-order lift to maintain the rage

AUSTRALIA'S Test match record in South Africa since the Proteas were welcomed back into the international cricket fold has been good but vice-captain Brad Haddin says the side must improve its first-innings batting for that to continue.

Australia has won eight and drawn three of the 11 Test series in the Rainbow Nation post-apartheid, but the home side will go in as favourite as the three-match series starts in Centurion tonight.

Haddin, a star of the summer Ashes whitewash over England, said the No.1 Test side would be a "totally different beast we've got to tame now" and the first-innings collapses which were a downside of the 5-0 win had to be a thing of the past.

Against England, Australia reached 250 in its first innings without losing five wickets only twice.

In the other games the Aussies were five wickets down with not that many on the board before Haddin came to the rescue batting at No. 7.

"We need to get first-innings runs," the veteran keeper said. "That's one of the areas we need to improve on.

"That's no secret to anyone."

Haddin scored 493 runs at an average of 61.62 against the Poms, but said it would be hard to match that effort against the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander, although he was keen to get started.

"They've got a pretty handy attack," he said. "It's going to be a different kettle of fish to attack against, so I'm looking forward to it."

Haddin said it was important Australia continued to win the key battles against the likes of Graeme Smith, AB de Villiers and Steyn.

"We've just got to make sure we're recognising those big moments, and when those moments do arrive that we jump on them, whether that's getting through a tough hour with the ball, bowling some maidens in a session, or taking the game by the scruff of the neck and moving it forward," Haddin (pictured) said.

There is still no indication which way Australian selectors will go in the make-up of the team, despite the Centurion wicket expected to favour seam bowling.

Haddin said Shaun Marsh, who flew in on Monday as cover for the injured Shane Watson, would be ready if he received a Test recall

But the keeper said he was uncertain which two of Marsh, fellow batsmen Alex Doolan and Phillip Hughes and all-rounder Moises Henriques would play.

"Hughesy was in pretty good form in the trial game the other day, but Shaun was also picked in the original tour [squad]. Who knows? Both of them might play, none of them might play," he said.

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