David Warner is set to make his 100th Test appearance for Australia, and is determined to put his run of poor form behind him.

Warner has gone 10 Test innings without a half century, and is averaging just 26.07 in his last 27 trips to the crease in the longest format.

He was out for a first ball duck in the first innings of the first Test against South Africa at The Gabba before managing just three in the second, albeit on a green pitch where the majority struggled with the bat as Australia won by six wickets inside two days.

Should he score 78 or more in the second Test at the MCG, Warner will become just the eighth player to score 8,000 Test runs for Australia, and he promised to take on the Proteas bowling attack in the Boxing Day Test.

"I know when I'm at my best, I'm taking the bowlers on," he said. "It goes well and it flows with the team and the guy at the other end. Now I've probably gone a bit more responsible and trying to put the team into a good position without playing a bit rash.

"If anything I can probably be a bit more aggressive and go back to the older me, take them on a little bit more. But I think that also is dictated from what wickets you are getting.

"You don't want to have a dig at the curators, but the last two years our wickets have been green. If I go out there play a cover drive and nick one, you guys [the media] will have a feeding frenzy.

"But now I'm in good positions and I'm nicking off, that's the nature of the beast. This might be a wicket where I can go out and play like the old me. So you have to adapt to those conditions that's what I've been doing the last 18 months."

In what will be the 100th men's Test between Australia and South Africa, the hosts' selectors have a tough decision to make on whether to recall Josh Hazlewood, who has recovered from a side strain, or retain Scott Boland, who took a combined 4-42 in the first Test.

Australia must keep their Head in Melbourne

The pitch in the first Test in Brisbane was labelled "below average" by the ICC, though Travis Head was still able to muster 92 from 96 balls in the first innings, a crucial contribution that made a key difference.

Although he was out for a first ball duck in the second innings, it was immaterial as Australia eased to victory shortly after, and the man of the match will be keen to show his worth again in Melbourne.

Landmark looms for Elgar

South Africa captain Dean Elgar was not happy with The Gabba surface, but will be hopeful of scoring more than the combined five runs he managed in the first Test.

Elgar is just 24 away from becoming the eighth player to score 5,000 runs for the Proteas in men's Tests, though his Test batting average in Australia of 18.4 is his lowest in any country.

Joe Root believes his decision to step down as England Test captain has been justified following a remarkable end to 2022 for Ben Stokes' red-ball side.

England became the first visiting team to win three matches in a Test series in Pakistan this week, taking them to nine victories from 10 Tests since Stokes replaced Root as skipper in April.

Prior to Root's decision to step down, England suffered a demoralising 1-0 series loss to West Indies and were thrashed 4-0 by Australia in the Ashes. 

With England now earning plaudits for their fearless style under coach Brendon McCullum and captain Stokes, Root has no regrets concerning the end of his time at the helm.

"We weren't performing," Root recalled in an interview with Sky Sports. "We weren't delivering what I thought we were capable of, and it had a massive impact on me away from cricket as well.

"If you can't even be yourself, then you aren't able to give what that role requires, lead in the right way or lead a group of players.

"For a number of reasons, it was the right thing to do, to step back. It needs someone to throw absolutely everything at it.

"As soon as I made that decision, it was quite clear that it was the right one, and I've not looked back. I gave everything to that role and threw everything at it. I am really proud of the way I went about that."

England's aggressive approach was on display as they posted their fifth-highest innings total in history (657) in their Pakistan opener, and Root feels the team's enjoyment of their new style has paid dividends.

"Brendon's got a very aggressive approach to how to play the game, I think Ben is even more aggressive! It is exciting," Root said.

"When you are 10, 12, or even younger, you're playing in the back garden – that's the feeling that you get – that raw enjoyment of smacking the ball, bowling fast, or spinning it miles. That's something you should never really lose as a player.

"It's easy to forget, in the hype of the pressurised environments and demands of constantly putting in performances and winning. But it is so important that you enjoy what you do, and you're more likely to get the best out of yourselves and it's something that we've paid quite a lot of attention to."

England will attempt to reclaim the Ashes on home soil in 2023, with the series set to begin at Edgbaston on June 16, and Root is enthusiastic about their prospects.

"Everything ramps up. The interest around Test cricket in this country goes up a notch," Root said of playing in a home Ashes series.

"It's a great opportunity for us, and with how we played our cricket under Ben last summer, it's a very exciting place to be with a big series like that coming around.

"We've proven to ourselves we can do it against two of the best teams in the world in our own conditions, so it will be great to take Australia on and take that one step further again."

Eddie Jones has skirted around answering questions on potentially linking up with Australia, insisting he is not motivated to prove England wrong in his next job.

Jones was sacked as England coach this month after seven years in charge.

The 62-year-old won the Six Nations on three occasions, including a Grand Slam in 2016, and guided the Red Rose to the 2019 Rugby World Cup final, but pressure had been building for some time.

A dismal set of 2022 results saw Jones' England win just five of 12 Tests, prompting his dismissal following a third-placed finish in the Six Nations.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4, Jones said he "wouldn't do anything differently" and is keen for a return to coaching.

There have been links to Australia – Jones' home nation, who he led to the 2003 World Cup final, losing to England – that were encouraged by comments Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan made to the Daily Mail.

McLennan invited Jones to join the Wallabies set-up, not clarifying his potential role but suggesting they could "weaponise these recent events for Australia" ahead of next year's World Cup, in which a quarter-final meeting with England is on the cards.

Jones sounded less keen to make his next move based solely around his ultimately disappointing experience at Twickenham.

"It's not about coaching England's rivals; it's about adding to the game," he said. "I love the game and I love coaching. I want to continue coaching."

He added: "As you get a bit older, as I am, you just want to leave things in a better place. I just want to share the great experience I have had, particularly with coaching players and teams.

"What we want to see is great games of rugby, and if you have the opportunity to be part of that, you are extremely lucky."

Jones laughed at mention of joining the Australia team, saying: "Be a discerning reader, never believe what you read in the papers."

Steve Smith has thrown his support behind embattled Australia opening batsman David Warner and predicted a steely reaction following poor form.

Warner has not scored a Test century in his past 27 innings, dating back to January 2020 against New Zealand and is running out of chances ahead of the second Test against South Africa starting on Monday at the MCG.

The 36-year-old left-hander was dismissed for a golden duck in the first innings of the first Test against the Proteas, scoring three in the second innings.

Warner failed to reach a half-century in the recent 2-0 Test series victory over the West Indies too, leading to calls for him to be dropped.

But Australia vice-captain Smith pointed to Warner's 106 from 102 balls against England at the MCG in a one-day international in November as reason for hope.

"You only have to look back a [few] weeks ago, a one-day game out here against England, he scored 100 on what was a pretty tough wicket," Smith told reporters.

"We've seen David when his back's up against the wall, he's done pretty well."

Smith added: "It doesn't matter what format of the game, Davey always plays in a pretty similar way, which has been the beauty of him in Test cricket, being able to take the game on from ball one.

"Sometimes it doesn't work, and he hasn't had a great deal of luck lately."

Australia selection chair George Bailey remained confident in Warner earlier this week, stating it was difficult to glean much from the Gabba Test which was dominated by the bowlers and over inside two days.

"No doubt David would be the first to say he'd like a few more runs and to be contributing a bit more knowing the importance of that role at the top of the order," Bailey said. "But full confidence that will come."

Australian cricket legend Shane Warne will be honoured on the opening day of the upcoming Boxing Day Test in Melbourne with a range of tributes planned, including players wearing floppy wide brim hats.

Warne died at the age of 52 in March after suffering a suspected heart attack while on holiday in his villa on the Thai island of Koh Samui.

The upcoming Boxing Day Test between Australia and South Africa will be the first played at Warne's home ground, the MCG, since his passing.

Cricket Australia announced a range of tributes in honour of the beloved Victorian, with fans encouraged to wear floppy hats and zinc, like the leg spinner did during his playing career.

Players from both sides will wear floppy hats during the pre-game ceremony, while Warne's cap number 350 will be painted square of the wicket throughout the match.

Warne made many memories on the hallowed MCG turf including his Test hat-trick and 700th Test wicket.

Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley said: "Shane is an icon to cricket fans globally for the greatness of his cricketing achievements, his charisma and his infectious enthusiasm for the game. His place as a legend of Australian and world sport is assured. Whilst we continue to mourn his passing, it is fitting that we honour Shane at his beloved Boxing Day Test at the MCG.

"Shane became recognisable not only through his genius and mastery of the art of leg spin, but also his floppy hat and zinc, so we encourage fans to remember Shane by wearing their own floppy hat and zinc to day one of the Boxing Day Test.

"I know I speak for the whole cricket community in saying that our thoughts continue to be with Shane's family and friends and particularly his children Brooke, Jackson and Summer."

Dean Elgar raised concerns about the condition of the pitch at The Gabba in the closing stages of Australia's six-wicket win in the first Test against South Africa.

The hosts secured victory on day two in what was the second-shortest Test in the country after the same two sides played out what remains the shortest Test in history in 1932 in Melbourne.

A green pitch offered considerable bounce and movement, which led to wickets falling regularly as the match was over after a total of just 144.2 overs.

After a first innings score of only 152, South Africa limited Australia to 218, before capitulating with the bat again and posting just 99 in their second innings, setting the hosts a target of a mere 34 to win.

Even then, four Australia wickets fell as Kagiso Rabada (4-13) tore through their top order, though the target was reached in large thanks to the bounce of the pitch, with the top scorer being the 19 extras that mostly came from bouncers that flew over wicketkeeper Kyle Verreynne and raced to the boundary.

"I did ask the umpires when [Rabada] got [Travis] Head out down leg, I said 'how long does it go on for until it potentially is unsafe?'," South Africa captain Elgar said.

"And then [Anrich] Nortje was bowling those short ones that were flying over our heads. I know the game is dead and buried, it was never to try and change or put a halt to the game. That's where the umpire's discretion comes into play, not us as players. I am definitely not going to say it was safe or unsafe.

"There were only a handful of runs left so I thought maybe they thought I was just trying to take the mickey," he added, having not received any response from the officials. "But it's not a bad reference point going forward to get a reply.

"You've got to ask yourself the question – is that a good advertisement for our format? Thirty-four wickets in two days – a pretty one-sided affair, I would say.

"The nature of it, how it started to play with some seriously steep bounce with the old ball, you are kind of on a hiding to nothing as a batting unit. I don't think it was a very good Test wicket, no."

Elgar's opposite number Pat Cummins, who took 5-42 in the second innings, felt the surface was well short of concerning levels.

"No way, it was fine," he said. "Sideways movement, there was a little bit of up and down bounce, but it was fine. There were no balls jumping off a length or anything like that.

"It was certainly tricky. Two days probably isn't ideal… personally, I don't mind it if the groundsman err on the greener side occasionally. [I've] played a lot of Tests where they've erred on the flatter side. I think it was the same for both teams."

Day two also saw Mitchell Starc take his 300th Test wicket when he bowled Rassie van der Dussen with a trademark inswinger, and Cummins paid tribute to his team-mate.

"You can talk about strike rate, average, all those things," he said. "[But] the longevity you've got to have to get 300 as a fast bowler, the injuries you've got to overcome… you've seen it all by the time you get 300.

"I've seen him mending a lot of scars, bruises and blisters in the change room. You see the toil behind the wickets and performances. It puts him right in the upper echelon of great Aussie bowlers. Now he's nipping the ball a bit more. I reckon his next 300 will come pretty quickly."

Five wickets from Pat Cummins helped Australia to a six-wicket victory against South Africa in the first Test at The Gabba inside two days.

Having only managed 152 in the first innings on day one, the tourists had an even worse time with the bat on day two as Australia bowled them out again for just 99, with Cummins taking 5-42.

With the hosts resuming their first innings on 145-5, South Africa appeared to have worked their way back into the contest when they mopped up the remaining five wickets for a further 73 runs, and a total of 218.

Marco Jansen claimed the wicket of Cameron Green (18) before ending Travis Head's innings at 92 after forcing the slightest of glove touches to Kyle Verreynne.

Mitchell Starc was caught and bowled by Lungi Ngidi for 14 before Kagiso Rabada cleaned up the tail by dismissing Cummins and Nathan Lyon for ducks.

However, South Africa's batting problems continued as Sarel Erwee (3) Dean Elgar (2) and Rassie van der Dussen (0) all fell early again, reducing them to 5-3.

Temba Bavuma (29) and Khaya Zondo (36 not out) put up some resistance, but after the former fell, only Keshav Maharaj (16) made double figures, with Cummins following up the wicket of both openers by cleaning up the tail of Rabada (3), Anrich Nortje (0) and Ngidi (9) to complete a five-for.

The pitch continued to trouble the batsmen though as the hosts laboured to a modest target of 34, with Usman Khawaja (2) hitting a Rabada delivery straight to Maharaj at gully.

Rabada (4-13) was doing his best to make Australia work for it, also taking the wickets of David Warner (3), Steve Smith (6) and Head (0) as they were reduced to 24-4, but a pair of high wides that raced to the boundary from him and then Nortje helped see Australia home.

Deadly Cummins takes advantage of sorry Proteas

This makes it six Test innings that South Africa have failed to reach 200 runs, and in fact, even failing to make 100 in their second effort in Brisbane, which will have been extra frustrating after keeping their opponents to a first innings lead of just 61.

Cummins led the way in the second innings though, and although he conceded almost half of the tourists' runs, he also took half the wickets as Australia gave themselves a tiny target to chase for victory.

300 up for Starc

Starc ended on 299 Test wickets after the first innings, and was clearly desperate to reach a treble century once the second began.

He had it early on when a trademark inswinging delivery flew between bat and pad to dismiss Van der Dussen and made him the seventh Australian to reach 300 in Test cricket, doing so on the same ground where he claimed his first wicket of Brendon McCullum in 2011.

David Warner should end his Test career on his own terms rather than wait to be dropped, with Australia great Ricky Ponting suggesting he could bow out at the end of the series with South Africa.

The opener was dismissed for a first-ball duck on day one of the first Test in Brisbane on Saturday, amid a two-year spell where he has failed to post a century.

With tours to India and England coming up in 2023 – where Warner has posted historically below-par averages of 24.25 and 26.04 – questions over his future continue to swirl, particularly after he recently withdrew a review of his lifetime leadership ban.

The final match of the three-Test series with South Africa comes at the batsman's home venue of the Sydney Cricket Ground, and ex-captain Ponting has now speculated whether he will call time in the aftermath, before he is pushed out.

"I think what he should be doing is being as realistic and looking to the future as he can," he told Channel 7. "He deserves the chance to finish the way he wants to finish.

"I would hate to see him get to an Indian tour or at the start of the Ashes tour and then get the tap on the shoulder. That would be a disappointing way for his career to end.

"It might be after the [final] Test [of this series]. Let's wait and see."

Fellow Test veteran Nathan Lyon – who took 3-14 as Australia bowled the Proteas out for 152 before reaching 145-5 at the close on Saturday – says the batsman remains supported by the rest of his team-mates, regardless of his future.

"We all know the X-factor of a cricketer that David Warner is and the type of batter he is," he added.

"He's got 100 per cent support from the changing room and [that] should be the whole Australian public, to be honest with you. I'm expecting David to come out and do amazing things."

South Africa were bowled out for less than 200 for the fifth successive Test innings, before an unbeaten 78 from Travis Head helped put Australia in a strong position in the first Test at The Gabba.

Dean Elgar's team were torn apart by Australia's bowling attack on day one as the Proteas were dismissed inside 50 overs for just 152.

The hosts also wobbled initially on a fast pitch, but Head and Steve Smith (36) steadied the ship from 27-3, though a couple of late wickets gave South Africa some hope of getting back into the game.

A tentative start from the tourists saw them reduced to 27-4, and things could have been significantly worse had it not been for a partnership of 98 between Temba Bavuma and Kyle Verreyne, before the former was bowled by Mitchell Starc for 38.

That began another batting collapse, with Verreyne eventually falling to Nathan Lyon for 62 as the tail failed to wag.

South Africa struck immediately in reply though as David Warner struggled with a short delivery from Kagiso Rabada off the first ball of the Australian first innings and was caught well by Khaya Zondo for a golden duck.

Marnus Labuschagne (11) edged Marco Jansen's first ball into the hands of Elgar before Usman Khawaja (11) also nudged an Anrich Nortje delivery to sub Simon Harmer in the slips.

After a reprieve when a review showed an edge had dropped just short of Elgar, Head took full advantage as he brought up his half-century off just 48 balls.

A partnership of 117 with Smith was ended by Nortje before the close as he sent a terrific delivery into Smith's stumps, before Rabada dismissed nightwatchman Scott Boland (1) off the last ball of the day, though Head remained unbeaten on 78 from just 77 balls as Australia closed on 145-5.

Balanced Aussie bowling downs Proteas

The key to a potent bowling attack – especially in Test cricket – is teamwork and variation, and Australia have that in spades.

South Africa's was an innings of two halves, with Starc (3-41), Pat Cummins (2-35) and Boland (2-28) all picking up early wickets, before the consistent spin of Lyon mopped things up, with the 35-year-old ending with figures of 3-14.

Head leads the way

It has been a very interesting innings from Head, looking nervous after scoring just two from his first 16 deliveries, before deciding to just go for it and smashing 51 from his next 32.

He even brought up his 50 with a six down the leg side, making a mockery of the struggles experienced by almost every other batsman on day one, ending with 14 boundaries (13 fours) to his name by the close.

West Indies superstar Andre Russell says he fears the new T10 format of the game could threaten T20 cricket and, eventually, Test cricket.

“To be honest, T10 cricket can be a threat because you can watch three games in a day, it’s less stress on the body and bowlers just come and bowl two overs,” he told reporters in Australia on Wednesday ahead of the first of four games he will play for the Melbourne Renegades in the ongoing Big Bash League.

“T20 is always going to be ultimate but I just think the amount of cricket at the moment means the players’ availability is going to be a big issue,” he added.

The 2022 edition of the Abu Dhabi T10 league concluded last week, and the competition saw a host of marquee names including Russell, Nicholas Pooran, Eoin Morgan and Adil Rashid taking part.

The number of T10 leagues is steadily increasing, and earlier this year, Cricket West Indies (CWI) became the first full-member board to start its own league, called the 6ixty. Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) have already announced that next year, they will be starting their own T10 league known as the ‘Lanka T10 League.’

“Most players, it’s going to make them want to leave the longer format with the direction T10 leagues are going. There are a lot of different T10 leagues in different parts of the world and they announced that just before the finals in Abu Dhabi.”

Russell himself has not played a single red-ball game since 2014 but the veteran is hoping that all players don’t fall into the short-format trap.

I just hope that players still believe in red-ball cricket, still believe in Test cricket and still want to play those formats because the older generation, they will come out and watch five days of cricket. That’s where it all started.”

Dean Elgar is expecting some "feisty encounters" during South Africa's Test series in Australia but says there are "no grudges" over the ball-tampering scandal.

Over four years on from the fiasco in Cape Town in which Cameron Bancroft was caught using sandpaper in an attempt to try and alter the condition of the ball, the two nations start a three-match Test series at the Gabba on Saturday.

Steve Smith and David Warner have long since returned to the Australia team after serving bans for their part in that plot, which saw them stripped of the captain and vice-captain roles respectively.

South Africa won that series on home soil in 2017-18, having also come out on top in their last Test series in Australia back in 2016-17.

With Australia top of the World Test Championship table and the Proteas second, they are fighting it out for a place in the final at The Oval next June and captain Elgar is not dwelling on the past.

He said: "There will be moments, no doubt, where there will be a few feisty encounters but hopefully it doesn't reach the stage that we experienced in 2018.

"What's happened in the past happened. There are no grudges. We know they want to win and we want to win. There will always be a moment where egos and the heat of the moment gets to the guys but think it will be better controlled this time.

"If they've got added issues with regards to [the ball-tampering scandal] then that's their thing, but with regards my team we haven't spoken about it once. It's history for us."

Australia skipper Pat Cummins, who will replace Michael Neser after recovering from a quad injury, echoed Elgar's sentiments. 

The paceman said: "We've all moved on. I don't think we're probably as abrasive as we've been in the past. It's working for us.

"How we are off the field is pretty similar to what we play on the field I think - calm, very chill, just enjoying it out there, really competitive. And we've done that really well over the last 12 months."

Starc closing in on milestone

Australia will look to Mitchell Starc to fire with the new ball and the paceman is closing in on a milestone.

The left-arm quick only needs another four wickets to reach the 300 mark in Tests, a feat only six other Australia players have achieved.

Starc struck nine times as Australia emphatically whitewashed West Indies ahead of this series.

Van der Dussen return a boost for Proteas

Rassie van der Dussen makes a welcome return to the international stage for South Africa after recovering from a broken finger.

The batter was ruled out of the T20 World Cup due to the damage done during a Test series loss in England.

Meanwhile, skipper Elgar needs only a further 29 runs to take his Test tally to 5,000.

Captain Pat Cummins will make his return for Australia's first Test against South Africa at the Gabba.

The paceman was absent for Australia's series-sealing second-Test win over the West Indies last week, a match that saw Steve Smith stand in as skipper, due to a quad injury.

Cummins is ready to face Dean Elgar's men, though, and will replace Michael Neser in the only change to the XI.

With Josh Hazlewood still out with an ongoing side strain, Cummins will form part of a bowling attack that includes Scott Boland, Mitchell Starc, all-rounder Cameron Green, and spinner Nathan Lyon.

Speaking on Friday, Cummins said about a Gabba pitch that looks favourable for pace bowling: "A couple of the boys said it's similar to what they've seen here in the past. It looks like there's a bit of grass. So, we'll see how it looks tomorrow.

"They'll give it a final cut. It always looks pretty green here a couple of days out, then on the morning of day one it looks a bit different."

The series is the first time South Africa have played Test cricket in Australia since the 2018 ball-tampering scandal, which led to bans for Aussie trio Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.

The first Test starts on Saturday, with two more contests scheduled to begin at the MCG and SCG on December 26 and January 4 respectively.

Australian duo Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Starc insist the side has moved on from the 2018 sandpaper scandal that rocked the team last time they met South Africa in a Test series.

Australia and the Proteas will lock horns for the first time since the fateful 2018 tour of South Africa in a three-game Test series starting on Saturday at the Gabba in Brisbane.

The 2018 scandal rocked Australian cricket, leading to Steve Smith and David Warner's 12-month bans, along with the loss of their leadership positions. Head coach Darren Lehmann stepped aside, with Justin Langer instilled in the aftermath to restore the team's reputation.

Khawaja was part of the side for the third Test in Cape Town in 2018 when the ball tampering saga emerged but said those ghosts had been banished.

"It honestly hasn't been and I'm being genuine," Khawaja told reporters on Thursday when asked if the sandpaper scandal had been discussed internally. "It's because time heals all wounds.

"The guys have come so far from there, both as individual players, but also as a team.

"Everyone's got so many different things going on in their life from where they were four years ago. That actually gave guys a lot of perspective.

"Australian cricket, both as a whole and as individual as players, we were probably at rock bottom right there."

Starc was also part of that Australian side in Cape Town, but echoed Khawaja's sentiments.

"I think both teams have probably evolved since," Starc said. "It's been an evolution of our group across the formats.

"We're very happy, chilled, relaxed, [in an] enjoyable environment and hopefully it's going to show in our cricket and result in a positive performance in these three Tests."

Faf du Plessis, who was the South Africa captain during the 2018 series, fueled the flames ahead of the series with an extract in his newly released book, accusing Smith of "milking" physical contact with Kagiso Rabada in the first Test of that tour.

The 2018 series was full of intensity, with the Smith-Rabada clash one of many heated incidents leading up to the fateful sandpaper scandal.

"This episode has almost been forgotten against the backdrop of what the series still had up its sleeve, or more accurately, down its trousers," Du Plessis wrote.

"They brushed shoulders during one of KG’s overs but Smith milked it like a football player. We knew that KG was one demerit point away from a suspension."

Marnus Labuschagne is ready to use every trick in the book to get the better of South Africa as Australia prepare for the first Test.

The top-order batsman is set to face the country of his birth for the first time in red-ball cricket, having been born in Klerksdorp before moving to Brisbane as a child.

Though he scored an ODI century in South Africa in 2020, the chance to face off against the Proteas at The Gabba is an opportunity Labuschagne is relishing.

Dean Elgar revealed the Australian spoke to him in Afrikaans in a bid to throw him off during an English county match in 2019, and the Queensland man would not rule out doing so again on the biggest stage.

"We'll have to wait and see," he said. "I've got no doubt that they're going to throw some curveballs and hopefully the responses can be either funny or none at all.

"I certainly think it's always exciting what this Test holds because it is a little bit closer to my heart, because it's the country where I grew up and where I spent 10 years of my life."

With 927 runs in 16 innings this year, Labuschagne has only been outscored in Test cricket by three other men – team-mate Usman Khawaja and the England pair of Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow.

His form sees him ranked as the top Test batsman by the ICC, and he credits his achievements to his drive to keep bettering himself.

"I am who I am because I am obsessed, and I am obsessive," he added. "I love to try and get better each time and each day.

"I think that part, hopefully it never stops for me because I think that's what makes me who I am."

Josh Hazlewood has been ruled out of Australia's first Test against South Africa starting in Brisbane on Saturday while Pat Cummins remains in contention to return from injury.

Cricket Australia on Monday confirmed a 14-man squad for the series opener at the Gabba following Sunday's 419-run rout of the West Indies in Adelaide.

Cummins has been named in that squad despite missing the Adelaide pink ball Test with a quad injury, but Hazlewood is absent again with an ongoing side strain issue.

The return of the Australian skipper would mean one of Scott Boland or Michael Neser would likely miss out in Brisbane against the Proteas. Uncapped WA tearaway Lance Morris retains his place in the squad but appears unlikely to break into the XI.

"Pat continues to improve, bowled with freedom on Saturday and appears likely to play this match, although Josh will need more time," selection chief George Bailey said. "With that in mind we have retained Michael Neser and Lance Morris in the squad for this match.

"Michael bowled superbly in Adelaide, as did Scott. We were impressed as always with their performances that backed up what they have achieved in the past. Lance is a very exciting prospect who will benefit from time with the squad.

"With so much cricket ahead, we continue to seek opportunities to grow and maintain our fast-bowling experience and depth."

Neser took five wickets for the match in the second Test against the West Indies, while Boland only managed three, but the latter's trio came in one devastating over in the second innings.

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