Smith: Tahir a big boost
Cape Town - Proteas Test captain Graeme Smith says leg spinner, Imran Tahir, is a great asset to their team, which in all likelihood suggests that the 32-year-old will make his Test debut against Australia at Newlands on Wednesday.
"Imran is a wonderful guy to have around and it's great for me as a captain to be able to throw the ball to him," Smith said on Tuesday.
"We just need to allow him to find his feet, as there will be a lot of hype around him, but he will build in confidence as the game goes on."
The Proteas have not played a Test since they drew against India in Cape Town in January, while the Baggy Greens arrived fresh off a Test-series win in Sri Lanka and also played a four-day warm-up match last week.
"Come tomorrow, I know the guys will be mentally in a good place and ready to go," Smith said.
"Australia are better prepared than us - that's the reality - and we would love to have had more time in our legs, so we've done as much as possible to make sure we come out and play good cricket for five days. That's all we can control."
Australia hold the upper hand on South African soil, having won the last two Test series' in the country, securing a 3-0 whitewash in 2006 and a 2-1 win in 2009.
South Africa's lone victory in that last series was at Newlands, where they crushed the visitors by an innings and 20 runs.
Smith said that result gave the team a sense of belief, but the players still needed to hit their straps to achieve success.
"Mentally we know we can beat Australia in Test cricket and we know how to beat them," he said.
"So there's an inner self-confidence that a lot of players have, and if we can get ourselves up to our levels, we can perform really well."
In a two-Test series, Smith said the hosts needed to get off to a good start and he was confident they could pull it off.
"With only two Tests, the first one becomes crucial and we need to start well.
"To beat Australia at home is an opportunity that we're really up for.
"We've covered all our bases and I know tonight the guys will go to bed believing that we can come out and match up in the five days."
Jacques Kallis, the top-ranked Test batsman in the world, has accumulated 11 947 runs, and needs only seven more to overtake Brian Lara, in fourth place, on the list of leading all-time scorers.