South Africa in Australia 2008-09 December 7, 2008

Our best chance to win in Australia - Smith

Cricinfo staff


Paul Harris hasn't faced Australia, but his captain has backed him to keep the pressure on the home side © Getty Images
 

South Africa have arrived in Perth high on confidence, with Graeme Smith saying this tour is the side's best shot at a series title in Australia since their readmission in 1991. South Africa are yet to win a Test campaign Down Under, but Smith, the first South African to lead his country on two tours of Australia, is hopeful of a turnaround.

"The reality is it's probably our best chance of winning out of all five tours, and everyone knows that," he said in the Herald Sun before leaving South Africa. "Dale Steyn, on current form, is the leading strike bowler in the world, Makhaya [Ntini] is one of the most experienced and Morne Morkel one of the most promising. We have a settled opening pair, the middle order has been functioning superbly for over a year, Jacques Kallis is probably the best allrounder in the world and Mark Boucher is the most experienced and, statistically, the best wicketkeeper the game has seen."

Smith felt the left-arm spinner Paul Harris, 30, was also a key component of the team. "As a captain I'm delighted with Paul Harris," he said. "He has a very clearly defined role in the team, from first innings to second, and he gives me control. I enjoy the fact that he is underestimated by many opponents. We have seen some of the finest batsmen from India and Pakistan, and Kevin Pietersen in England, taking him lightly and paying the price."

There has been speculation as to whether Australia will go with an all-pace attack for the series opener and the injury sustained by the offspinner Jason Krejza, who failed a fitness test for Tasmania, gives Ricky Ponting a potential headache.

The South Africa coach Mickey Arthur talked up Australia's pace attack against the visiting side's. "In the past you could predict conditions, the most obvious being that it would turn square in Sydney and Shane Warne would most likely take 10," Arthur said. "But things are different now and it's hard to see which way they will go in order to maximise home advantage. If they can produce an old-fashioned Perth wicket with pace and bounce, will they back [Brett] Lee, [Mitchell] Johnson and [Stuart[ Clark against our pace attack?

"People must realise that our guys are still young," Arthur said. "They are not the West Indies attack of the 1990s, as they were written up in England. But they are learning all the time and there's unbelievable potential. There's a huge amount of potential there [and] we are covered in all areas. You'll see three different quick bowlers, all who bring different elements to our attack, which is brilliant, lots of variation."

South Africa arrive in Australia unbeaten in their last nine Test series - winning eight of those - and are currently ranked No. 2. Their last series loss was in Sri Lanka in 2006, with their only draw since then coming away against India earlier this year.

South Africa will play a one-day game on December 11 and a two-day match against Western Australia starting Friday. The first Test starts in Perth on December 17.

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