South Africa in England 2012

Kirsten happy with South Africa preparations

Firdose Moonda

July 8, 2012

Comments: 23 | Text size: A | A

Alviro Petersen got South Africa's second innings off to a brisk start, New Zealand v South Africa, 3rd Test, Wellington, 4th day, March 26, 2012
South Africa opener Alviro Petersen is suffering from an inflamed toe ahead of the tour match at Somerset © Getty Images

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

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Posted by 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.

Posted by jb633 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.

Posted by pulkit10 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.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa 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?

Posted by YorkshirePudding 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.

Posted by YorkshirePudding 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.

Posted by umang_devilliers 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.

Posted by   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!!!

Posted by AKS286 on (July 9, 2012, 5:06 GMT)

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

Posted by AKS286 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?

Posted by Lakpj on (July 9, 2012, 4:59 GMT)

This will be a cracking series. on paper SA is stronger. but given the home advantage and SA nature of making things tougher for themselves could be decisive. Hope weather stays away. personally I would like to see SA win because they have been the most consistent team in the last 4-5 years. True they don't have huge wins but neither they have been crushed. Eng have experienced both they crushed Aus/India and received the same medicine in sub continent.

Posted by landl47 on (July 9, 2012, 3:58 GMT)

I'd say the questions to be asked are these: Can SA's seamers dominate England's batsmen? Is Kallis, at 36, still the force he used to be? Will Graeme Smith be able to deal with Anderson's swing? How much part will spin play? Can SA, with 7 stars but not much real quality otherwise, cope with England's eleven successful role players? How well will each side take their chances in the field? The real biggie: which side is mentally tougher? It will be a hard-fought series, too close on paper to call. It's a great pity it's only 3 tests; with the weather the way it has been, it would be very disappointing if even one result were lost to bad weather. Let's hope that doesn't happen and that a clear #1 emerges at the end. Naturally, I'm supporting England, but hopefully both teams will play some great cricket. Bring it on!

Posted by landl47 on (July 9, 2012, 3:42 GMT)

Yours is a superficial examination of the rankings, Greatest_Game. In bowling, SA's top 3 are fine, but the 4th bowler, Kallis, is #32 and the 5th, Tahir, is way down at #62 (partly because he hasn't played many tests, but an average of 37 with very few top batsmen among his victims isn't promising). England's 4th bowler, Bresnan is #14 and the rapidly improving Finn is #24. In batting, SA has 4 top ten batsmen, but then you have to go down to #43 to find Petersen, Boucher is at #50 and Duminy and Rudolph are languishing at #61 and #64 respectively. England has 6 batsmen (Cook, Bell, Trott, Pietersen, Strauss and Prior) in the top 27 and Broad is at 53. In other words, SA has 4 top batsmen and 3 top bowlers, but after that the quality drops sharply. England has 6 batsmen and 5 bowlers in the top 27 places, so there's really no drop off at all; England's only issue is whether to play an extra batsman at #6 or play 5 bowlers, with Bresnan at #7. It's SA's stars against England's depth.

Posted by Tjoeps on (July 9, 2012, 3:16 GMT)

Voorspoed Manne! This will surely be the cricket event of the year.... Lets hope the weather and injuries stays out of this series, pity its only 3 Tests... One to rain out, then one all, and then what? Go the Saffers!

Posted by yorkshirematt on (July 8, 2012, 23:08 GMT)

@greatest game Heat? HEAT!!!!!? Have you seen our weather recently?!!!! I would say England are better prepared for this series than SA, who have made the same mistake as India this time last year by arriving just two weeks before the series and only playing one warm up match. England's players have been playing regularly since April and played more matches during the English winter, whereas SA last played a proper series in January. Not sure how you can say England are not prepared.

Posted by Long-Leg on (July 8, 2012, 22:38 GMT)

It is interesting that most (8 out of 11 by my reckoning) of the current SA test side have lived in England and played their cricket in English county cricket. I saw Jacques Rudolf score a sublime 130 for Yorkshire last summer. England's home advantages is negated by the fact that we have generously nurtured so much South African talent in the English county system. I predict a close series with England just about coming out on top. For me, this is the biggest sporting event of the summer. Let's hope for some decent weather.

Posted by Lmaotsetung on (July 8, 2012, 21:41 GMT)

LOL...I guess when your team can't beat England, you ask other teams to do it for you. CLASSIC!

Posted by Cricketfan101 on (July 8, 2012, 20:59 GMT)

I hope steyn and co rip through the england batting line up and smith and co. dominate the overhyped bowlers like bresnan and broad

Posted by djdrastic on (July 8, 2012, 20:55 GMT)

Great doesn't look like we've learned anything new since we faced Australia last year in the ODI's and being completely raw and underprepared.Why aren't we playing more opposition and getting our guys in form and used to conditions in England ?

SAF management boggles my mind sometimes.

Posted by Cricket7861 on (July 8, 2012, 19:55 GMT)

Please South Africa whitewash England and become the number 1 test team!!!

Posted by ChobeMonster on (July 8, 2012, 18:39 GMT)

What has climbing mountains got to do with playing cricket?

Posted by Greatest_Game on (July 8, 2012, 18:35 GMT)

@ EnglishCricket. For the upcoming test series England will need every bit of preparation and confidence they can get. The rankings clearly indicate that the teams are a close match in terms of bowling, with Anderson, Philander, Broad, Swann and Morkel clustered tightly together within a 52 point range. The bowling difference may well be Steyn who is 100 points ahead of the pack! However, SA's batting is clearly superior: 4 of the top 10 ranked test batsmen are Saffers. Eng's only real advantage is psychological, as is SA's inherent weakness. It remains to be seen just how strong Eng's preparation and confidence is: how well will they cope with formidable opposition at home. It is well documented that their preparation and confidence evaporated pretty quickly in the heat of the UAE! Can it take real heat in their own kitchen??

Posted by EnglishCricket on (July 8, 2012, 15:12 GMT)

England are clearly well prepared and much more confident than South Africa.

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