South Africa v England, 3rd Test, Cape Town, 1st day January 2, 2005

Smith: 'Kallis is unbelievable'



'Today will have been a good day if we do well tomorrow,' says Smith © Getty Images

Graeme Smith was cautiously satisfied with his team's efforts on the first day at Newlands, after South Africa had inched to 247 for 4 in the face of a tenacious, if defensive, performance from England's bowlers.

"We've had a reasonably good day," said Smith. "The wicket's slow, and there's not much seam movement, but England bowled in good areas and they were hard to get away. Today will have been a good day if we do well tomorrow."

For the third time in the series, Smith won the toss and, after England's draining efforts in the Durban heat on Thursday, there have been few more opportune moments to put the opposition back into the field. "I've done very well with toss lately," he said. "If we start well tomorrow and give our bowlers a bit more rest, we might see the English take a bit of wear and tear.

"It's runs that count, not time in the middle," added Smith. "If we get a total of 450, then we can carry our catchers for longer and mess around with our fields. This pitch is dry in places and will take a bit of turn as it goes on, and is likely to quicken up as well."

Smith himself made a timely 74, although he was disappointed not to have made the most of his innings, and admitted that efforts like that don't win Tests. Instead, the cornerstone of South Africa's performance was, once again, Jacques Kallis, and Smith was effusive in his praise. "He's getting better and better," he said. "He doesn't get the same accolades as Lara or Tendulkar, but he's right up there with them. He sets high standards for himself, and in the last year and a half, he's been unbelievable."

In the end though, South Africa were not able to push on to a truly commanding position, largely because of England's defensive mindset. "They stuck to their gameplans," admitted Smith. "That's good from Michael [Vaughan]'s point of view, and with the new ball, we could have ended the day worse. If we get out for 320, they'll be happy - but 450, and we'll be happy."

Andrew Miller is assistant editor of Cricinfo. He will be following the England team throughout the Test series in South Africa.