Of all the shots played by Australia batsmen during their capitulation for 47 in Cape Town, Brad Haddin's stood out as the most reckless. And of all the players in the team, few could afford such a blemish less than Haddin.

136509 - I'll keep playing my natural game - Haddin

As this week's Johannesburg Test approaches, with a new selection panel ready to choose a squad to play New Zealand during the next fortnight, three men in Australia's side are under pressure. Ricky Ponting is 36 and in a trough, Mitchell Johnson's inconsistency continues to frustrate, and Haddin's slump has become worrying.

Haddin is 34, an age at which lean patches are dangerous, especially if a younger replacement is ready. Ian Healy was axed at 35. Haddin's understudy, Tim Paine, has a broken finger and is out indefinitely, but Victoria's keeper Matthew Wade is in fine touch and would not be out of place at Test level.

Although Haddin was one of Australia's better performers during the Ashes debacle, he now has a top score of 35 from his past five Tests. And the image that is freshest in the minds of those who watched the Newlands Test was of Haddin, with Australia at 18 for 5, slashing irresponsibly outside off and edging behind at a time when discretion was required.

He had fallen to a similar rush of blood in the first innings, when Australia were 163 for 5. This week's Test, which starts at the Wanderers on Thursday, is an important opportunity for Haddin, and the other struggling members of the side, with John Inverarity's new selection panel watching on with interest.

"It wasn't my proudest moment the other day but the thing about this game is the way you fight back," Haddin said. "It's where your mental strength comes from, where you turn back up after the disappointment of the other day, not only individually but as a team. It shows what mental strength you have as a player moving forward."

Mental strength was one of the things Australia lacked in Cape Town. The assistant coach Justin Langer referred to the players' lack of game awareness on the second day, when wickets fell at an alarming rate.

Better shot selection, Langer said, was the key, although he also said it was important for the batsmen to retain their positive intent. Haddin doesn't intend to go into his shell, but he does concede that he failed to assess things correctly at Newlands.

"It's important for everyone to play their natural game. There are moments in the game when you have to assess situations and that's something I didn't do great the other day. But the bottom line is you have to be true to yourself and your team-mates and play the way that's got you here."

Haddin worked hard in the nets at Newlands on Sunday, on what was supposed to be the fifth day of the Test, and he will do so at the Wanderers when Australia train there on Tuesday for the first time. He is understandably keen to play as long as possible at international level, after he spent the best part of a decade in the queue behind Adam Gilchrist.

Now it is Paine, 26, and Wade, 24, who are waiting in line. If Haddin has his way, they'll be there a bit longer yet.

"I've never looked at age or anything like that. For me it was always about being the best cricketer I could possibly be. If I get to the point where I think I've got no further part in the game then I won't play the game anymore but at this stage I feel like I've got a lot of improvement in me and I'll be kicking until then."