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The old boys

OZ/SA: The best all-rounder going and arguably the best ever, Kallis wants to win the 2015 World Cup – it’ll be a 40th birthday present.

Aussie veterans Ponting and Hussey, both 37, aren’t going anywhere, either. ‘Punter’ crushed 162 not out against present or former Test bowlers for Tasmania last week. Hussey’s still got the fire: “It took me 10 years to get me one (Test) game. I‘m sure I’ll know when the time is right.”

ENG/IND: The only man with more Test runs than Ponting is Tendulkar, 39. He isn’t what he once was, but India still need him.

Would a home win against England be a fitting farewell for a career that started in 1989 as a 16-year-old?
 

The coaches

OZ/SA: Aussie coach Mickey Arthur led his native SA for five years: “I know what makes them tick," he says.
 

ENG/IND: Bizarrely, both coaches are from Zimbabwe. India’s Duncan Fletcher has an edge on Andy Flower – he was at the helm of England when they won their first Ashes series victory in 18 years in 2005. Pietersen's the only player left, though.

 

Christmas no.1: The race for the mace

There’s no denying South Africa’s supremacy after they dismantled England at Lord’s and The Oval, but a slip up in Oz will see them fall from grace straight away.

Despite sitting third in the ICC’s list, the Aussies are in the box seat – any result of 2-1 or better against SA and England have to flog India 4-0 (four results on batting-friendly wickets will be a surprise and the bookies are giving the Poms no chance at 7/2 for a series win). If England achieve the impossible, the Saffas drop to third.

The way the ICC system works, these scenarios will send Australia back to the top: Oz 3-0, Eng 3-0; Oz 3-0, Eng 4-0; Oz 2-1, Eng 2-1.

South Africa stays top with any series win, regardless of England’s efforts in the subcontinent, and England and Australia will share the top spot if there’s an Oz 2-1, Eng 3-1; or Oz 2-0, Eng 4-0. England and Australia world number one and two for the Ashes 2013? It could happen.

Australia v South Africa Nov 9, 22 & 30. First session 12am. India v England Nov 15 & 23, Dec 5 & 13. Sky Sports TV and BBC Radio

Photos: Getty


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Top Test cricket nations battle for supremacy this November / December: We see how the teams stack up
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