And so we arrive at one of the most eagerly anticipated Test series of recent times, made even more delicious by the prospect of Australia giving the number one South Africans a real run for their money.

And so we arrive at one of the most eagerly anticipated Test series of recent times, made even more delicious by the prospect of Australia giving the number one South Africans a real run for their money.

Six months ago, Proteas fans were cockily sipping on their sponsor's brews, fully expecting a three nil drubbing when the Baggy Green arrived on African soil. Now, with the Aussies high on confidence following their England annihilation, the beer's gone a bit flat.

The Aussies are talking in the media about their 'best in the world' bowling attack, Mitchell Johnson's magic moustache and how the Proteas will falter without Jacques Kallis. The hosts have been keeping mum, focusing on their training.

Of course, South Africa have been on tenterhooks about a few injuries, with Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers recovering quickly from various niggles and hand surgery respectively. But all seems to be well ahead of Centurion.

The main question is, of course, who will get the all-rounder berth. Faf du Plessis will bat at four in Kallis' old spot, leaving either Ryan McLaren or Wayne Parnell as the fourth seamer slash number seven bat.

They have played four Tests between them, so neither will be picked on experience, but one imagines the conservative option for a first Test of the series will be McLaren, with his more disciplined approach with both ball and bat.

As for the Aussies, they also have an all-rounder conundrum after Shane Watson was ruled out with a calf injury. It is anticipated that Alex Doolan will bat at three in his stead, or it could be the much-maligned Phil Hughes, while Moises Henriques bats at six and bowls his medium pacers.

Of course, they could also use Shaun Marsh, who was in the original squad, then injured and dropped, and then fine again and recalled, at three, and then Hughes at six. We shall see at the toss.

The focus will be on the bowling attacks though, with Johnson's new moustache posing the question: Is it magic too? His last trip to South Africa was not a good one, so we wait to see if his recent revival was an Indian Summer.

Otherwise, Ryan Harris' dodgy knees (and back and ankles, and...) will need to stand up to scrutiny too, after his long and high-impact Ashes exploits, while Peter Siddle's aggression will be matched, if not bettered, by Steyn's.

*shivers in antici... pation!*

Key Men
Look. It's Johnson versus Steyn. That's all anyone cares about ahead of this Test, rightly or wrongly. If the Proteas skittle the Aussie top order, they have the power to wrap up the tail better than England did, while MiJo is a master at removing the bottom half of the opposion order.

Last Five Head-To-Head Results
2012: Third Test: South Africa won by 309 runs in Perth
2012: Second Test: Match drawn in Adelaide
2012: First Test: Match drawn in Brisbane
2011: Second Test: Australia won by two wickets in Johannesburg
2011: First Test: South Africa won by eight wickets in Cape Town

Probable Teams
South Africa: Graeme Smith, Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Ryan McLaren, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel.

Australia: David Warner, Chris Rogers, Alex Doolan, Michael Clarke, Steven Smith, Moises Henriques, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon.

Dates: 12 to 16 February
Morning session: 10:30-12:30 (08:30-10:30 GMT)
Afternoon session: 13:10-15:10 (11:10-13:10 GMT)
Evening session: 15:30-17:30 (13:30-15:30 GMT)
On-field umpires: Richard Illingworth and Aleem Dar
Third umpire: Ian Gould
Match referee: Roshan Mahanama