VETERAN batsman Mike Hussey says patience and discipline will be the keys to Australia's batsmen surviving against South Africa's much-vaunted three-pronged pace attack.
The 37-year-old, who has made just one century in 14 Tests against the Proteas, said he expected a normal Gabba wicket for the first Test today with plenty of help for the quicks early.
"I think the conditions are going to be similar to what we always expect here at the Gabba. It's probably going to do a little bit on the first day and it'll have good pace and bounce," Hussey said.
"Our guys particularly like batting at the Gabba. It can be really challenging in the first 15 minutes, but once you get through that it's a very true pitch and you get a nice feel off the bat and can score very quickly and play all your shots."
Australia will regain the world No.1 Test ranking if it wins the three-Test series, and Hussey said the Aussies were determined to regain that mantle.
"It's very motivating I guess - that's what we've been working towards, trying to get back to number one in the world so it's nice to know it's in sight," Hussey said.
"We're going to have to play some outstanding cricket, we're going to have to be at our best for the whole Test series, but I'm confident we can do it. We have a nice blend of youth and experience in our team and we've got a lot of hunger."
Fellow veteran batsman Ricky Ponting got through a full training session in Brisbane yesterday and will give his injured hamstring one more workout today to ensure he is 100% fit.
Ponting said while most talk in the lead-up had been about how Australia would combat the likes of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel, the Aussie fast bowlers were also itching to make their mark against South Africa's top six.
"Our young quicks are dying to get out and have a go at their top order," Ponting said.
"Steyn is their go-to man, we're aware of that. If we can negate him we'll go a long way toward winning the series."
South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis, who laughed off comparisons with the great Sir Donald Bradman, agreed batsmen on both teams could expect plenty of short-pitched balls.
But Kallis, who has scored 12,641 Test runs at 56.94 and taken 280 wickets at 32.63, said it would be a mistake to concentrate on trying to intimidate the batsmen.
"They are two quality pace attacks - sure there will be a few short-pitched balls," he said. But invariably it's the balls that don't get air that are the ones that get wickets."
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