ICL: Indian Cricket League

Team focused on performing well - Smith


Graeme Smith, the South African captain, believes the squad touring Australia, a blend of experienced players and fearless youngsters, will challenge the world’s No. 1 side during the upcoming Test series, which starts on Wednesday at the WACA.

South Africa have never won a Test series in Australia, or against them since readmission, but the present team has been unbeaten in their last nine series, including wins in England and Pakistan and a drawn contest in India. “Generally we know what it will take to perform well and we are focused on that,” Smith told Sportal. “We’ve got rid of the other issues that irritated us in the past and we’ve focused on being physically and mentally ready. We are giving ourselves the best chance of performing well.

“The guys that have been here [in Australia] have learned a lot of lessons and have a good thought on how to go about it, and the young guys have a non-fear approach in the way they’ve come in as the new generation of thinkers in South African cricket.”

Just over half of the 15-man squad have been part of previous South African trips to Australia, and among those yet to play a Test in the country are batsman Hashim Amla as well as Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Paul Harris - likely to form the bowling attack with the experienced Makhaya Ntini.

“They are positive cricketers, forward thinking and there’s a nice mix in our team environment,” Smith said. “Everyone is pushing each other for better results and we’ve proven that with our results over the last year and a half. Nobody can argue with that and this is another challenge where we have to play good cricket.”

Although the WACA is expected to assist fast bowlers, Smith said his team would play a spinner - Harris - in their line-up and felt Australia would do the same as well. “I would tend to say no [about leaving out Harris] if I’m being honest and that we will probably stick with our usual XI,” Smith said, “but we will have to see what the wicket looks like.”

Over-rates have plagued Australia of late, with fines being imposed on them in consecutive Tests - against India in Nagpur and New Zealand in Brisbane. “They went with four pacemen against India last time and it didn’t really work, so I wouldn’t think they’d do that again,” Smith said. “Over-rates are the banes of captain’s lives at the moment but I won’t select a team on over-rates, but it is nice to have a spinner when things get tight. We will think about tactics first and take it from there.”

The media in Australia have focused on spearhead Steyn, who comes in the series as the leading wicket-taker in Tests this year. However, the likes of Matthew Hayden and Glenn McGrath feel he has to prove himself against Australia, a team he’s yet to play a Test against. “Matty [Hayden] is a class player and will be up against Dale [Steyn], so the proof will be in the pudding,” Smith said. “Dale’s recent stats speak for themselves and he’s not the type of guy who will shy away, and Matty isn’t either. I’m excited to watch that battle also.

“He’s a key batter in their line-up and gives the rest of their order a lot of impetus and has a good aura about him. He’s quite an imposing figure and adds a lot of value, so if we can keep him under pressure and not allow him to score runs it’s a bonus for us.”

Source:Cricket News

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This entry was posted on Monday, December 15th, 2008 and is filed under General, Cricket.

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