SA take calm approach

2008-12-16 00:00

Perth — Graeme Smith is keeping his selection options open ahead of the first Test against Australia starting this morning after he and his team-mates arrived at practice yesterday to find a Waca pitch which had lost its greenish tinge from earlier in the week.

“We’ve had a look at the wicket. It has changed quite a bit from Monday. We will probably have a squad of 12 with Lonwabo Tsotsobe in the squad and will make a final decision [this] morning.

“As I’ve said … I’m very comfortable going in with the XI that we have done business with for the past couple of years.

“But we have covered all our bases and we will be happy with the final selection that we make.”

Smith dismissed suggestions that there are mental scars left from previous battles with the Australians.

“In my opinion the boys are far more settled than they have ever been. The guys have developed nicely over the last year-and-a-half and have moved forward. The guys are in a good space; they’re well prepared and they’re looking forward to it. We have given them every opportunity to prepare properly and I think they are very excited about what lies ahead.

“The lessons that the guys have learned are invaluable. Even though they are not always positive, they teach you a lot about yourself and your environment. You even get to the point when you know how much better you are now. The team now has a very nice balance between experienced guys and younger ones.

“One of the great things the players have learned over a period of time is how to perform away from home. Our record speaks for itself in that regard.”

Smith is also not reading too much into the fact that Australia will take two bowlers into the Test, Peter Siddle and Jason Krezja, who have yet to play a home Test compared to the multi-capped Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne of the previous tour Down Under.

“We have concentrated on our tactics and where we want to go, rather than the inexperience of one or two of the Australian bowlers.”

Smith would also not to be drawn into the recent issues on-and-off-the-field events surrounding Andrew Symonds.

“It is stuff that is out of our control to worry about. At the end of the day we have to concentrate on the cricket and the way we are going to take his wicket. Any team looks to exploit perceived weaknesses in the opposition, but it is the cricket that is going to do that and we know that.”

He also said he has been impressed by the way Dale Steyn has handled the media interest and expectations around the fast bowler.

“Everybody is going to be affected by the hype around them, but generally he’s a quite calm and chilled guy off the field. He takes things in his stride and certainly, with the rise he has had to success in the last year, it is something he has had to learn to deal with. He has gone from being one of the younger guys in the side to being acknowledged as one of the best bowlers in the world.

“He has always had confidence in his potential and once we backed him in Pakistan as a team when he bowled beautifully in those conditions, I think that kick-started him. This is a challenge for any of our inexperienced bowlers, but it is an exciting one.” — News24.

SA team: Smith (c), McKenzie, Amla, Kallis, Prince, De Villiers, Boucher, Harris (or Tsotsobe), Morkel, Steyn and Ntini.

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