South Africa in England 2012 July 8, 2012

Kirsten happy with South Africa preparations


South Africa will start their two-day tour match against Somerset on Monday with two members of the squad carrying injuries. Opening batsman Alviro Petersen has an inflamed toe on his left foot, an injury sustained while jogging, and fast bowler Marchant de Lange has not fully recovered from lower-back spasms picked up in the Twenty20 tri-series in Zimbabwe last month. However, both could feature in the match at a later stage as the teams will be allowed to field more than 11 players.

"We don't want to risk either Alviro or Marchant but we will see how they feel as the match goes on," Mohammed Moosajee, South Africa's team manager, told ESPNcricinfo. Both are expected to play in the second fixture of the tour against Kent, which starts on Friday.

With only five days of match time before the first Test, Gary Kirsten, South Africa's head coach, was unperturbed by the lack of cricket before his team starts their quest to dethrone England as world No. 1. Kirsten said the hours of practice required before a series is not an "exact science", adding that South Africa's players believe the time they will get "should be sufficient", if the weather holds. The team were forced to have an indoor session at Taunton after arriving on Saturday but trained outside in the sun - which the locals claimed showed itself for the first time in two weeks - on Sunday.

"We know we have got to get our intensity up as soon as we can," Kirsten said. "We've got a really experienced team and a good side that has been here and had success before. It's about who can win those big moments; that's how the series will be decided. Where we might lose out on match intensity, we will pick up on mental freshness."

Kirsten's emphasis on training the mind was emphasised by the squad's recent camp in Switzerland, conducted under the guidance of adventurer Mike Horn. Graeme Smith described it as a mentally challenging experience and said that for some players it had been the "toughest three days of their careers". The squad engaged in activities such as climbing mountains and Kirsten said it helped them learn about each other.

"It's something we wanted to work hard on as a team. We can put ourselves through some challenges, not necessarily cricket challenges, just to test us a little bit as a unit," he said. "Everyone pulled together and the stronger guys pulled the weaker guys through. We feel that when you pull a team together and tighten a unit and go through those challenges it will help in those pressure moments where it counts."

Thinking outside the box is what Kirsten hopes will give South Africa that "10% tweak that will take us to the top of the pile". Having already got India there in Tests, Kirsten is hoping to replicate his success with his home country and feels that the preparation they have done will stand them in good stead to achieve that. "I am very happy with where we are at the moment," Kirsten said. "The guys aren't letting up, they want more."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Valavan on July 9, 2012, 10:54 GMT

    @Lmaotsetung, How is it going? not long ago Indianfriends came here to predict 5 - 0 whitewash in ODIs in favour of Australia, But now half of them are disappeared or they come with excuses that India played ODIs better than Aussies, now they are coming under SA cap and predicting thrashing for England, sooner or later they will hide their faces in sand. But still it goes good regardless howlers like RandyOz, rahulcricket007 fill up the comedian roles in these forums. cricinfo please publish.

  • Jon on July 9, 2012, 9:15 GMT

    Seems to me that a lot of cricket fans believe this current England side is being over hyped. I think that is a reasonable view when you look at their performances in the sub continent, which have been dismal. However, fans crying out that SA are the true number one are ignoring the fact that their side is massivley inconsistent, who never actually win anything. Recently they have drew with a garbage Aussie side and were hammered by SL in the boxing day test. I think Eng are actually a better side than people give them credit for and think SA will have a suprise when the test matches come, with regards to how much Eng have improved since the 09/10 series.

  • Pulkit on July 9, 2012, 8:29 GMT

    @ landl47: " Naturally, I'm supporting England" - could have never guessed that one...>_>

    I'd strongly recommend looking beyond the rankings. England are really only going in with 4 bowlers, with Finn on the sides - SA on the other hand are going in with 4 top notch ones along with Tahir and unlike in England's case, they'll all be playing in the same game (Finn will have to sit out until someone gets injured).

    Furthermore, rankings barely paint an accurate picture, consider this: Shakib Al-hasan is the top all rounder...I mean really? and you really underestimate Kallis. You only really have to look at his recent record to know what he is capable of and all this nonsense about them being "7 stars" against a "role playing team", seriously, they have a few young players trying to blend in the team - certainly not the situation you are making it look like. Moreover, England too have stars (Anderson, Pieterson, Cook), it's just they are performing decently as a team.

  • greig on July 9, 2012, 8:29 GMT

    Got a feeling the horrible English weather will intervene in this long anticipated showdown. Total outrage that this isnt a 5 test series, can someone explain why?

  • Jason on July 9, 2012, 8:21 GMT

    @Greatest_Game, its important not to put too much emphasis on the rankings of individual players as they can quickly change, if anything both teams are evenly matched in both departments, both teams havent had ideal preperations with England playing the WI's and SA playing NZ in the run up. England have shown that they are capable of raising thier game against opponents higher up the table and taking thier foot off the gas against lesser teams, SA meanwhile still have the tag of chokers against serious opposition. Under Kirsten that may well have changed and this SA team seem to be brimming with confidence.

  • Jason on July 9, 2012, 8:08 GMT

    @AKS286, it depends ont he state of the game ;)....Seriously having ticket to the 1st and 3rd tests I'm hoping there is no rain, but with the jet stream in its current position (too far south) there isnt much chance that this will change, I think this summeris heading for a complete wash out for everyone, from Players, to fans.

  • Umang on July 9, 2012, 5:54 GMT

    This series will be a acid test for Tahir. Lets us see wat he gained from training with the gr8 Qadir.

  • Dummy4 on July 9, 2012, 5:52 GMT

    This would be a real test for SA as the Emglish team is on top of their game!!!

  • Anupam on July 9, 2012, 5:06 GMT

    i request all the fans please pray NO RAIN between matches.

  • Anupam on July 9, 2012, 5:05 GMT

    So it means the African "Deadly Barrage" is fully loaded. Eng fortress is having threat. very challenging series. Beating eng in eng is a tough job lets see can Deadly barrage destroys the Eng batting lineup?

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