South Africa in Australia 2008-09 January 4, 2009

South Africa plot to stay on top


Neil Manthorp writes in the Observer about how South Africa's side has several similarities with England's Ashes-winning one of 2005. He also talks about how the involvement of Jeremy Snape as performance coach and Duncan Fletcher as part of the backroom staff were key components in South Africa's historic series win.

South Africa's rise is a journey mirrored by their captain, Graeme Smith, who will return home straight after the Sydney match for treatment on his sometimes agonising tennis-elbow condition. Smith has made a tumultuous five-and-a-half-year transition from outspoken youth to the longest-serving and most-respected leader in the game.

The irony, to those who know him best, is that while his team and their collective attitude and approach to cricket has changed fundamentally, Smith's core principles have remain unchanged. It's just that he has now dropped the shield of aggression and bullish confrontation behind which he used to do battle.