The South African cricket team left for Pakistan on Tuesday night with an air of resignation that the next month will be spent chained to their hotels due to security concerns.
“Playing a subcontinental team on their home grounds is always a massive challenge,” captain Graeme Smith said shortly before their departure. “Your patience levels have to be very high and the guys will have to adapt to the lifestyle changes and the amount of security that will be around us. I’ve heard something like 6000 troops are on standby for us and I think we’re going to be pretty much confined to our hotels.
“It’s a big challenge being stuck in a hotel all the time because you have nothing to take your mind off the cricket and the training, and it’s easy to slip into boredom, get lackadaisical and lose that drive.”
The four-week tour of Pakistan, comprising two Tests, five one-day internationals and two practice matches, kicks off a string of major tours South Africa will undertake in the next 18 months.
“In the next year-and-a-half, we have some wonderful tours coming up, going to Pakistan, India, Australia and the UK,” Smith said. “We want to win away from home and we haven’t won on the subcontinent for a while. I would love to win in Pakistan as much as in England or Australia.”
Twenty-two-year-old fast bowler Morne Morkel, the best of South Africa’s attack during their doomed ICC World Twenty20 campaign, has earned a berth on the tour and Smith said he was excited about having him in the squad. “Morne’s done incredibly well since coming into the side and he’s proven he can cope with performing under pressure. He’s an awesome prospect, but it will be a challenge knowing how to introduce him and use him.
“We will be introducing some new players on this tour because we don’t know what the future of the senior players is, Shaun Pollock might retire soon. So we need to work out the succession and the process and the planning of that is important.”
Jacques Kallis is one of those senior players, and his immediate future looks secure after he was controversially omitted from South Africa’s squad for the ICC World Twenty20 and resigned as vice-captain in response.
“Jacques and I talk a lot and he is a true professional,” Smith said. “He doesn’t have any issue with the team, I think his issues are with those above us. Representing his country is very important to him, but is he getting the credit he deserves for his performances?”
Smith added he was uncertain of what the Pakistan team held in store for South Africa after the Indian Cricket League had cut some experienced stars from their ranks. “No one knows what’s happening with Mohammad Yousuf, and with Abdul Razzaq gone, will they play the extra allrounder? Maybe there’ll be one or two guys we don’t know.”
The Pakistanis themselves won’t know a couple of the fringe players South Africa are bringing with them, such as stylish left-hand batsman JP Duminy, left-arm spinner Paul Harris and fast bowler Dale Steyn.
But Pollock, who led the attack the last time South Africa were in Pakistan four years ago, is back as he looks to vault ever higher up the all-time list of Test wicket-takers (he is seventh at the moment). It will be a challenging tour for Pollock, who is now 34, and for Smith, whose troublesome knees will get a thorough workout in the heat and dust of Pakistan.
Source:Cricket NewsMore on:Graeme Smith, Pakistan, South Africa, South Africa in Pakistan 2007
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Thursday, September 27th, 2007 and is filed under General, Cricket.
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