Proteas

Proteas need 'sweep' for No 1

2011-08-17 12:14
Graeme Smith (Gallo)
Rob Houwing Sport24, chief writer

Cape Town – The good news is that South Africa, presently third, could recapture top spot on the ICC Test rankings from England as early as the looming home summer.

Slightly more sobering, though, is that to do so they will be required to clean sweep their respective 2011/12 guests, Australia and Sri Lanka, 2-0 and 3-0, to leapfrog Andrew Strauss’s currently impressive side.

The Proteas, a little disappointingly, only play two Tests against the Aussies in early season (both during November, Newlands and Wanderers) before going on to entertain the Lankans in the “peak” summer of December and January with Tests at Centurion, Kingsmead and Newlands again respectively.

And a 5-0 clean-up appears to be the minimum requirement for them to recapture No 1, if reports out of England are to be believed.

In the shorter term, South Africa can re-advance to No 2 by this weekend if England complete their own 4-0 series whitewash over the disappointing Indians at the Oval, thus banishing MS Dhoni’s side to third on the ICC list.

England’s next Test series will only be against Pakistan in the neutral United Arab Emirates in January and February, by which time they could have been pipped to No 1 if Graeme Smith’s side really hit their straps on home turf ahead of that.

The Proteas, of course, will be under the coaching command of Gary Kirsten, who took India not only to No 1 in the Test arena but also to World Cup success earlier this year before returning to more familiar habitat.

 South Africa’s home Test record has been moderate for several summers, with defeat to Australia in the 2008/09 season – it rather undid their heroics in winning Down Under just ahead of it – followed by a 1-1 outcome with England in 2009/10 and a similar result against India in 2010/11. 

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