News24

Biff: Aussies better prepped

2011-11-08 14:24

Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – There is “no hiding” from the fact that Australia will enter the first Test against South Africa in a better state of preparedness on Wednesday, says Proteas captain Graeme Smith.

It has been reasonably fashionable for people in the South African camp to describe the lead-up to the important encounter in a controversially short series as “less than ideal”.

Sport24 put it to Smith at his captain’s press conference at Newlands on Tuesday that the situation was arguably a bit worse than that, given that several batsmen and the main Proteas pace bowlers have not had so much as a solitary first-class outing since the Test at the same ground against India last summer.

“Can I use the phrase ‘less than ideal?’” Smith quipped. “The reality is that it’s not ... for us going into a series against Australia we’d have loved to play as much cricket as possible. Time in our legs; as much first-class cricket as possible, really.

“But that’s not the situation and the group were honest about it in chatting a few days ago. Australia are better prepared than us -- there’s no hiding away from it, that’s the reality.

“We’ve got to find a way, we said two or three days ago, to make sure we’re ready to compete come day one. There’s no point sitting here saying this and that ... we’ve just got to come out and play good cricket for five days.

“We’ve done as much as possible to make sure we’re ready. That’s all we can control. We’ve just got to front up from Wednesday.”

Smith said that starting well in the first Test of only two, especially as initial conditions at the ground look like being overcast and damp and challenging for batting, would be crucial.

“It’s an opportunity we’re up to. One big partnership could make a big difference in the game, and I expect day one conditions to be fairly similar to the first day against India here last season.

“I don’t think we’ll have to play from memory as such (as suggested by one inquirer – Sport24). We’ve covered our bases in training. The last two ODIs, for myself, I felt my game was coming back together and I got a lot of confidence out of those games.

“Perhaps in the last year or so I’ve fallen away a bit from my known strengths (as a batsman) and want to get back there and do them well.”

I asked Smith whether the four-day Potchefstroom game the Aussies had had against SA ‘A’ might have bolstered the enemy cause more than he would have liked it to.

“Look, that’s the nature of touring. If we were on tour we’d have got that game also. They’ve had the benefit of having played in Sri Lanka before coming here and then the advantage of that four-day game, so I’m not trying to hide away from the fact that they’re better prepared.

“But our coaching staff have been great and I can’t fault the hard work that’s gone on to make us (ready). I know the guys will be mentally good to go against Australia.

“The fact that it wasn’t an easy game for them was probably to their benefit, but it was exciting to see some young fast bowlers do well also (for SA ‘A’).

“To be honest I didn’t take too much notice of that game; we’ve been really focused on ourselves and making sure we’re ready. We had enough things to tick off.

“I guess it’s nice that they never got to make 400 for three and bat for three days!”

Asked if there was any significance to the supposedly fit-again AB de Villiers not batting at weather-enforced indoor nets on Tuesday, Smith said: “Not necessarily, maybe it’s just an indication he’s feeling quite confident!

“With the weather around it’s been optional today, indoors. Fitness-wise, he’s come through fine. He’s experienced enough to know what he’s got to do to be ready to play on Wednesday.”

Sport24

Comments
  • Andre - 2011-11-08 14:31

    And so Smith starts with the excuses!! I am tired with the excuse that the Chokers are still a bit rusty etc.

      Matt - 2011-11-08 15:01

      What excuses exactly? He fronts up and says that the team is under done. Its not the best build up to a test series (in fact its down right poor)...just hoping that the lads can pull it together.

      Jim - 2011-11-08 15:25

      One has to ask the questions, how long have we known about this series, and why are we not prepared.

      Allan - 2011-11-08 15:38

      Come on Captain Smith. With such negativity we can only do badly. Do you expect to lose? Why play if that's the case? At least try some psychological pressure on the Aussies. They must be laughing at the state of South African cricket.

  • Stephen - 2011-11-08 14:32

    Ah News24 looking for more hits - another Smith article. Put out a Smith article and the knuckle draggers will flock to it

  • Deon - 2011-11-08 14:47

    Why did Smith not play for the Cobra's on Sunday? He needed the practice.

  • chiepner - 2011-11-08 14:58

    "Ja uhhhhmmmm" - do hope this guy finds form cause at the moment he is about as inspirational as Charlie Sheen and tiger blood.

  • Gareth - 2011-11-08 15:07

    Smith should not even be in the team ,kirsten must get rid of the dead wood !!!!

      Deon - 2011-11-08 15:34

      No one has a better average than him at nearly 50. He also holds the record for most runs for SA in test cricket (+-277), so he can have a few more chances to get going. You never know when he scores a double hundred again, hope it is soon.

      granville.paulse - 2011-11-08 16:10

      Deon - Last I checked AB has the record. Amla got to 253* when Smith declared to save his own record. and if you honestly believe that Smith could get to a ton with left armer Mitchel Johnson in the team, then you are smoking some good stuff. He has a better chance of breaking a finger.

      Allan - 2011-11-08 16:45

      @ Deon , Tiger woods is one of the greatest golfers but he is now out of the top 10. Do you see the connection? Smith's average may be great but his current form is poor. Maybe we should pick Graham Pollock? His average is 75. he he!

  • Dianne - 2011-11-08 15:10

    Was just wondering if I'm the only one wondering why SA appears to be the only side who hasn't already played a series. Every time I flipped channels, England, WI, Aus, Pakistan, Sri Lanka even Zim were playing each other. Did we wake up one morning and say: "oops we have a series against Aus, better start practising?" Why do we appear to be the last nation playing, and then playing a country who already has a series (or 2?) under their belts?

  • Caleb - 2011-11-08 15:43

    I would have preferred Sri Lanka come to South Africa first and new years have Australia here...Best way to end and start the year :)

  • Sabiha - 2011-11-08 15:49

    Wish Smith all the best, its csa fault for not organsing the tours properly , the players can all train as hard as possible , then give of their best when the game starts

  • Jim - 2011-11-08 15:54

    And then all the faithful will say the Aussies only won because we were not ready. What a pathetic article.

  • Justin - 2011-11-08 16:07

    Why is this guy still Captain. He is so negative. Secondly, test cricket versus Australia is our largest game and why are we so under prepared/unfit. The administrators are destroying our wonderful culture of cricket!!

  • steven.chiaberta - 2011-11-08 18:57

    It's incredibly unprofessional to be underprepared at any time, let alone for the biggest and best series we play in!!! With the talent we have among the players AND coaching staff, Australia should be worried, NOT. It is both unecessary and truly sad that this isn't the case.

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