Proteas: Cricket, not corruption
Graeme Smith (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - The Proteas will focus on cricket in their tour against Pakistan and not the corruption claims that have dogged the side since their appearance against England in August, the South African national side said on Sunday.
"As players, we obviously have a role to play, but I think it's important we play the sport in the right spirit and trust the ICC and the anti-corruption unit to do their jobs," Proteas' captain Graeme Smith said in Sandton before boarding the team bus for the airport.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) suspended three Pakistan players who were accused of accepting money to bowl no-balls against England during the Lord's Test.
"I think it's our job to play competitive cricket and to do our best on this tour. The ICC are the main stakeholders of the game so it's important they make the right decisions and lead the game forward," said Smith.
"We have to trust them to do that. We can't hide from what's happened, but we have to really focus on ourselves and make sure we play the kind of cricket we want to play.
"We're a competitive team and it's an important phase in our build-up to the World Cup, so we're looking at it from that perspective."
The series consists of two Twenty20s and five One Day Internationals (ODIs). It starts with a Twenty20 in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
Although considered a home series for Pakistan, it is being played at a neutral venue owing to security concerns after gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team's convoy in Lahore last year killing six police officials and a driver and wounding several team members.
South Africa will go into the series brimming with confidence after a clean sweep against Zimbabwe, in which it won both Twenty20s and three ODIs in decisive fashion.
"We've done all the hard work and players got time in the middle, so we can't really ask for more than that going into a tour where we don't have much time to prepare before the first game.
"Pakistan cricket has always had something going on, so the players are quite used to dealing with those things and it won't affect their confidence.
"They're a dangerous team to play. They have a lot of talented players, good fast bowlers and good spinners so we're going to have to play our best cricket to do well on this tour," said Smith.
Pakistan have a poor record in one-day cricket against South Africa, having won only six of 23 matches in the last 10 years, but they have won two of the three Twenty20 games.
South Africa's squad of 15 includes Dale Steyn, Jacques Kallis and Morne Morkel, all of whom have suffered recent injuries but are slowly regaining their fitness. They are not expected to take part in the first game, but their fitness will be constantly assessed and it is hoped they will play an active part as the tour progresses.
Johan Botha will captain the Twenty20 side and Smith will captain the ODI team while AB de Villers will keep wicket.
SA squad: Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Colin Ingram, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, David Miller, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Johan Botha, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Juan Theron, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.