Durban Proteas coach Mickey Arthur has described South Africa’s one-day-international (ODI) against Australia on Friday as “huge”.
South Africa kick-off their five-match ODI series against Australia in a day/night encounter and Arthur wants his team to pick up some valuable momentum.
“Friday is when we want to put our marker in the sand and that is why we have been building up extremely hard this week.
“For us, Friday is huge because you want to go one-nil up and hopefully take momentum from that game,” Arthur told a news conference on Wednesday.
South Africa won the recently completed Pro20 series against Australia two-nil but Arthur feels that that series triumph is a thing of the past and will have little or no bearing on the upcoming ODI series.
“I think it is a completely different beast (Pro20). Yes, you take a little bit of momentum in but we saw in Australia where Australia won both Pro20s but we got over the line in the first one-day game in Melbourne,” Arthur said.
South Africa beat Australia four-one in their away ODI series in January and the home side’s chances of repeating that feat has been boosted by the return of their inspirational captain Graeme Smith, who has recovered from a broken right hand.
While Smith’s return is good news for the South African camp, it is tempered by the injury cloud hanging over allrounder Jacques Kallis.
Kallis is struggling with a groin strain and a decision on his availability for the match will only be taken after a vigorous workout on Wednesday.
“Graeme has come through fantastically and it is really good to be able to have our leader back. That is going to be a huge bonus for the side.
“Kallis is a little bit ahead of schedule. We are going to push him today with bat and ball and see where we are with him. Friday might be a little bit too early but today is going to tell exactly where we are with him,” Arthur explained.
If Kallis fails to come through his fitness test then new Proteas squad member, left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe has every chance of making his ODI debut for his country after being named man of the match in his first Pro20 match for South Africa last Sunday.
Arthur also likes the idea of having a few spinners in his team.
“We quite like the idea of playing two spinners so he (Van der Merwe) has got as good a chance as anybody of playing. It will depend on whether Kallis comes through.
“JP Duminy and Johan Botha, in Australia, were superb in our one-day games. We managed to pull Australia back in the middle overs with our spinners,” Arthur concluded.