Former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson believes South Africa and Australia are on course to securing berths in the 2023 World Test Championship (WTC) final, adding that going by the current form of the two side, it would be extremely difficult for any team to veer them off their course.
On Friday, the Proteas led by Dean Elgar defeated England by an innings and 12 runs inside three days in the opening Test at Lord's to further cement their position at the top of the WTC table. Australia, led by Pat Cummins, are a close second on the table.
"Right now, the way I see it, it's going to be hard for South Africa and Australia to not make it," Watson said on The ICC Review."They're both playing really good cricket. Australia played good cricket apart from that last Test against Sri Lanka where they got swept up in turning conditions in the last innings," added Watson.
However, Watson added a word of caution for the two leading teams, saying a lot will also depend on Australia's away series against Indian in early 2023. He added that teams like Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan are lying in wait to pounce on any slip-up.
"Even as the front-runners in the competition though, South Africa cannot afford a serious dip in form. Taking on England in a three-match series away from home, defeats would see them fall all the way down to a share of sixth place with the West Indies, who still harbour aspirations of a final appearance."
Importantly, Pakistan have home field advantage in all of their remaining five fixtures, while India host Australia for four of their six remaining WTC matches."You can never discount India and Pakistan, because they've got so many match winners, outside of their home countries as well," Watson added. "Those two, I'd be very surprised if they don't come knocking on the door leading into the final."