Sri Lanka in South Africa 2011-12 December 23, 2011

Smith determined to end Kingsmead jinx

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If the most dangerous animal is one that has been wounded, then the most determined cricketer is one whose ego has been punctured. Of all the sportsmen to suffer ignominy in the last 12 months, few have been more humbled than South Africa's cricket team. Although they did not play cricket for seven months of the year, the break gave them ample time to think about the disappointment which preceded it.

Without mentioning what that was just yet, remember that South Africa ended their winter break with a cracker-jack series against Australia. Now, they are in the process of sinking their teeth into a tender Sri Lankan side, whose inability to perform away from home and without their stalwart spinner, Muttiah Muralitharan, has never been more glaring. For Graeme Smith, it is an opportunity to make amends, even though the wrong has long been forgotten.

"After a very disappointing time at the World Cup, a lot of criticism around and the lack of confidence, just to be able to build and strengthen up the squad is crucial," Smith said. "There's stability around the team. You could feel a much more settled nature in the squad in the first Test against Sri Lanka and some confidence shown in players. It's good to see the players have taken that and performed."

March 25, Allan Donald in the black and white of New Zealand and Kyle Mills shoulder-charging Faf du Plessis seem like years ago. To the average South African cricket fan, that quarter-final loss probably doesn't matter that much anymore and definitely has no place in the current summer of cricket. But, Smith is still a little haunted by the memory of that day and, according to him, some of the other players also are. "A lot of the players have been hurt over the last period of time and are really motivated to put things right," he said.

Redemption is too strong a word to use for what South Africa hope to do - if they were looking for that, they achieved it when they bowled Australia out for 47 in Cape Town last month - it's far less complicated than that. Consistency is perhaps closer to the truth or just simply the ability to win a home series for the first time in three seasons. Whatever it is, Durban would be a fitting venue to do it.

The last time South Africa won a Test at Kingsmead was in 2008, against West Indies. Since then, it's been as much of a nemesis to them as left-armers are to Smith and they have lost to Australia, England and India. "It's been extremely disappointing the way we have played at Kingsmead," Smith said. "I want to turn that around. I want to perform well here and I think everybody in the team feels the same way."

Usually, the Kingsmead Test is the Boxing Day one and Smith was candid in saying at this festive time of year, the squad has to be careful not to let their guard down. "At Christmas time, you have to keep your focus up," he said. "The margins have been small here in the Test matches we've played. We've being as clinical as we could have been. Mentally, we need to be strong."

The reality is that few expect South Africa will need a Herculean effort to overcome this Sri Lankan side, that the inspiration the squad will draw from their World Cup exit and their poor record in Durban might be better directed to a different, more competitive opposition. Since, it can't, this will have to do. Smith and Co. can only fight the opponent put in front of them and they are determined to leave nothing to chance. "It's our goal to keep them [Sri Lanka] on the back foot as long as possible and not allow them to find that rhythm and freedom with which they like to play," Smith said.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • rongranu22 on December 25, 2011, 15:18 GMT

    @hashabjp ya i remember how SA THRASHED SL last time when they visit sl. the best partnership in test cricket happens in that time. if you say that is a flat track & why they lost by an innings ? chillax.

  • vallavarayar on December 25, 2011, 13:56 GMT

    SA can gain all the confidence they need from this tour. It's so funny reading all the various excuses the SL players and the fans trot out.

  • bliksempie on December 25, 2011, 5:43 GMT

    Funny to read all the comments from our sub-continental friends who complain that these pitches are unfair, and that they should prepare rank turners when SA visits in retaliation. Erm, you do prepare rank turners when SA visits, usually when you're behind in the series, as India did the last time we toured there. And SA doesn't cry about them being unfair, they just talk about the need to adjust and get on with it. Really, just play the game and quit whinging - you really are not the victims you constantly make out you are.

  • satanswish on December 25, 2011, 4:20 GMT

    I see some SL fans pleading to bring back Malinga. I wonder how Malinga can turn their fortunes in Test Cricket. His bowling is ideal for limited overs cricket like ODI & T20. But test cricket bowling requires special qualities & you cannot get batsman out by bowling yorkers all the time. Wasim & Waqar had plenty of wickets with yorkers in Test matches but those wickets came off a surprise fast-paced yorker. Also the duo had many variations to keep batsmen on their toes all the time. Malinga Magic does not work for Test Cricket as he is not versatile for this format of the game. Let him win matches for SL in limited overs cricket, he is the best in the business there.

  • hashabjp on December 25, 2011, 1:55 GMT

    @josh2david..... bouchers average is thirty because most of his runs have come against minnow like bangladesh and zimbabwe... Never seen him score a hundred in ages ....The catched he took came to him, he didnt have to run for them and were fairly easy. I think Vilas will do justice. Sangakara and jayawardene have score most of their runs in Sri Lanka and their average is minimal in South Africa. South Africa has won a series in India and Drawn there too. I say go Sri Lanka prepare your best turner and South Africa will still thrash you at home.

  • josh2david on December 24, 2011, 20:14 GMT

    @hashabjp Boucher is a good No7 batsman I don't see any problem him behind the stump, his average of 30 in test match is pretty good in more than 100 test matches, he took 5 catches in last test. Also we are in early stage of this series; you can just write off Mahela and Sanga. Sanga always takes time to adjust the condition, he always perform well as series goes. I don't understand people accuse batsman 'flat tract bullies' SA batsmen struggle perform in slow pitches in subcontinent, would you then say "slow pitch sluggers'"?

  • on December 24, 2011, 17:55 GMT

    i would bet any amount that sri lanka would lose the test series .

  • maddy20 on December 24, 2011, 16:04 GMT

    It seems a lot of SLankans are showing a lot of hate towards other countries SA, IND you name it. Now lets analyze this logically. SL does not have any proper batsman other than Sanga and Mahela. You cannot expect them to score a double hundred every innings to keep SL in the hunt. Also they do not have a single bowler who can bowl a potentially match-winning spell. Unless Sri Lanka can produce a Malinga like bowler for test cricket, I do not see them winning any games in the near future. This will be their 4th consecutive series defeat this year!

  • South_Indian on December 24, 2011, 14:25 GMT

    India is going to be thrashed by Aus in the boxing day test and SA would win against SL. SA will win the series 2-0 after a draw in one of the 3 tests, but India gonna be thrashed 4-0 by Aus this time.

  • priceless1 on December 24, 2011, 13:59 GMT

    @Chris_P i saw your comment in other thread related to AUS and IND series ,so that's confirm ur an Indian ....so if SL bowlers are not up to the level how do u rate the Indian bowling attack? a Joke?

  • rongranu22 on December 25, 2011, 15:18 GMT

    @hashabjp ya i remember how SA THRASHED SL last time when they visit sl. the best partnership in test cricket happens in that time. if you say that is a flat track & why they lost by an innings ? chillax.

  • vallavarayar on December 25, 2011, 13:56 GMT

    SA can gain all the confidence they need from this tour. It's so funny reading all the various excuses the SL players and the fans trot out.

  • bliksempie on December 25, 2011, 5:43 GMT

    Funny to read all the comments from our sub-continental friends who complain that these pitches are unfair, and that they should prepare rank turners when SA visits in retaliation. Erm, you do prepare rank turners when SA visits, usually when you're behind in the series, as India did the last time we toured there. And SA doesn't cry about them being unfair, they just talk about the need to adjust and get on with it. Really, just play the game and quit whinging - you really are not the victims you constantly make out you are.

  • satanswish on December 25, 2011, 4:20 GMT

    I see some SL fans pleading to bring back Malinga. I wonder how Malinga can turn their fortunes in Test Cricket. His bowling is ideal for limited overs cricket like ODI & T20. But test cricket bowling requires special qualities & you cannot get batsman out by bowling yorkers all the time. Wasim & Waqar had plenty of wickets with yorkers in Test matches but those wickets came off a surprise fast-paced yorker. Also the duo had many variations to keep batsmen on their toes all the time. Malinga Magic does not work for Test Cricket as he is not versatile for this format of the game. Let him win matches for SL in limited overs cricket, he is the best in the business there.

  • hashabjp on December 25, 2011, 1:55 GMT

    @josh2david..... bouchers average is thirty because most of his runs have come against minnow like bangladesh and zimbabwe... Never seen him score a hundred in ages ....The catched he took came to him, he didnt have to run for them and were fairly easy. I think Vilas will do justice. Sangakara and jayawardene have score most of their runs in Sri Lanka and their average is minimal in South Africa. South Africa has won a series in India and Drawn there too. I say go Sri Lanka prepare your best turner and South Africa will still thrash you at home.

  • josh2david on December 24, 2011, 20:14 GMT

    @hashabjp Boucher is a good No7 batsman I don't see any problem him behind the stump, his average of 30 in test match is pretty good in more than 100 test matches, he took 5 catches in last test. Also we are in early stage of this series; you can just write off Mahela and Sanga. Sanga always takes time to adjust the condition, he always perform well as series goes. I don't understand people accuse batsman 'flat tract bullies' SA batsmen struggle perform in slow pitches in subcontinent, would you then say "slow pitch sluggers'"?

  • on December 24, 2011, 17:55 GMT

    i would bet any amount that sri lanka would lose the test series .

  • maddy20 on December 24, 2011, 16:04 GMT

    It seems a lot of SLankans are showing a lot of hate towards other countries SA, IND you name it. Now lets analyze this logically. SL does not have any proper batsman other than Sanga and Mahela. You cannot expect them to score a double hundred every innings to keep SL in the hunt. Also they do not have a single bowler who can bowl a potentially match-winning spell. Unless Sri Lanka can produce a Malinga like bowler for test cricket, I do not see them winning any games in the near future. This will be their 4th consecutive series defeat this year!

  • South_Indian on December 24, 2011, 14:25 GMT

    India is going to be thrashed by Aus in the boxing day test and SA would win against SL. SA will win the series 2-0 after a draw in one of the 3 tests, but India gonna be thrashed 4-0 by Aus this time.

  • priceless1 on December 24, 2011, 13:59 GMT

    @Chris_P i saw your comment in other thread related to AUS and IND series ,so that's confirm ur an Indian ....so if SL bowlers are not up to the level how do u rate the Indian bowling attack? a Joke?

  • KingOwl on December 24, 2011, 12:17 GMT

    If SA wants to win international competitions consistently, they have to prepare sporting wickets for their home series. Otherwise, they will never win world cups. Just like they crumbled in Bangladesh, they will keep choking.

  • hashabjp on December 24, 2011, 11:33 GMT

    BOUCHER and PRINCE need to go ..... you two are keeping talent out and making south african team vulnerable....Dane Vilas in for Boucher and JP Duminy in for prince... Sri Lanka are minnows... and both Jayawardene and Sangarkara are flat track bullies so it will be walk in the park to stream roll this Sri Lanka side... go SOUTH AFRICA.

  • MrGarreth on December 24, 2011, 11:29 GMT

    Jeez there is a lot of hate for my fellow Saffers. Come on guys. So we're chokers. We've heard that only a trillion times. Thanks we got it. All the team can do is work towards proving that notion wrong and until they do. I suppose all you trolls will continue doing what you do and that is troll. Im convinced it has something to do with jealousy. Yes we underperform and that is what people want a country with such unlimited potential to do. Its a bitter jealousy. No one wants to see my boys become what they have the potential to be: the very best. But they will be. The side is shaping up nicely. Indan fans in particular cant stop complaining, particularly about pitches. Guess getting drubbed 4-0 when youre the "number 1" ranked team is a bitter pill to swallow and you take it out on our boys.

  • on December 24, 2011, 11:03 GMT

    Without Murali it is pointless for SL to play Test cricket. They are as toothless as Bangladesh. Somehow convince Murali and Maling to join you back to make your test side competitive. Otherwise Smith's side will walk over SL. No problems.

  • satanswish on December 24, 2011, 10:31 GMT

    Smith shouldn't be worried aby Kingsmead jinx as they are playing with Srilanka. Had it been Australia, England or India Smith should have worried about this jinx.

  • Kirstenfan on December 24, 2011, 10:09 GMT

    Smith is the only reason SA is not No 1 in the world. And it was 10 months without test cricket, not 7, thanks Majola for not doing your job

  • dariuscorny on December 24, 2011, 8:19 GMT

    i feel Malinga shud be forced to play test cricket for SL.i mean how he can live with pride when his team is losing and deperately needs him.there is one way only he shud be forced to play test cricket for SL.it will inspire SL.Malinga is still young enough to play test cricket

  • dariuscorny on December 24, 2011, 8:16 GMT

    @rahulcricket007 i agree with you.with all the hype South Africans are chokers.they win all throughout the year(at home).but in global tournaments in crunch matches they play club level cricket.

  • Chris_P on December 24, 2011, 8:14 GMT

    Do't lose too much sleep Smithy, it is going to be a crushing victory for you guys. Your bowlers are far too much for them and their bowling, I'm afraid just doesn't cut it at the top level.

  • Akheel on December 24, 2011, 7:34 GMT

    without taking anything away from SA's astonishing performance from 1st test, dont expect the a 'series win' against SL to be presnted on a platter.Smith was lucky with the toss and capitalized well on homeadvantage. Now, that SL had good outing (prctice sense) in SA conditions they ll be more aware what to expect. SL, too, had it's moments, when SA was 4 for 140 SL didnt finshoff well. No coming back for anyteam in the word , conceding a 300 lead, on pitch as green as tiger woods back yard. Kallis wasnt sure of the wicket, it was that much green & hard.

  • on December 24, 2011, 6:30 GMT

    SA CLEANEUP SRL 3-0 SRILANKA TERRIBLE TEST MTCH SIDE THEY SHOULD PLAY BANGLADESH AND ZIMBABWE TO IMPROVE THEIR RANKING AND GIVING THE MINNOWS SOME INTERNATIONAL MATCH PRACTRICES TOO

  • on December 24, 2011, 2:48 GMT

    s.a will win it for sure....................nd smith will score century .................................

  • Mad_Hamish on December 24, 2011, 0:55 GMT

    Botha your best spinner in all formats? You'd better hope not if you're a south africa supporter.

  • kalins on December 24, 2011, 0:38 GMT

    Don't worry pals, SL will come out from the dust and show their colours in next match. Beware of sudden change of the game and the passion of SL cricket. We are like lions we sleep and we will wake in aggressive manner. We will roar with determination. No need to jump and think its easy anymore. See you after the victory.

  • landl47 on December 24, 2011, 0:32 GMT

    If the wicket is flat, I can't see how SL will get SA out, but at least the SL batsmen might save the match. If the wicket has life, then the SA bowlers will get SL out for less than SL makes. It's either a SA win or a draw. Not that SA can take much from this series; without Murali and Malinga and with the batsmen not in great form, SL has been easy pickings for the last year.

  • phermon on December 23, 2011, 23:54 GMT

    I'm not sure the "clunicul" is exactly what's needed - the SAs don't have to be boring but it seems that they are under Smith. Some charisma and flair would do wonders for their skill levels.

  • andrew-schulz on December 23, 2011, 23:35 GMT

    That's an astonishing call-that bowling a side out for 47 achieves redemption for yet another world cup choke....and they didn't even go on to win the series! You have got to be joking.

  • playitstraight on December 23, 2011, 23:32 GMT

    Smith and his men are playing really good cricket at the moment, to defeat them in their home conditions will be a great achievement.

  • Herath-UK on December 23, 2011, 19:20 GMT

    Dilshan came up with a career best 190 odd runs after the cardiff debacle and one of the frontline batsmen needs to come up with steel to keep this series alive.Once someone hits the straps I'm certain Sri Lankan can turn the things round. Ranil Herath - Kent

  • on December 23, 2011, 19:20 GMT

    @maddy20: to talk about the 1st match of the series, I didn't see any of the SA batsmen other than AB looked to be comfortable on crease. May be SL team is having a bad time with most of their younger bowlers injured, but my friend don't think SL team is not capable of coming back strongly. since Prasad and Alvitigala joining the squad and are playing on a greenish track like a paddy field; i don't think SA will have a boxing-day fun at all. It might be a day that changes history. may be SL will loose but SL is not a team that goes down without a fight.

  • on December 23, 2011, 18:34 GMT

    Great battle ahead of the boxing day test matche

  • aahahaa on December 23, 2011, 17:49 GMT

    All said and done SA chokes, they could have taken the Aussies 2 zip @ home but then couldn't bowl them out the 2nd time. Arthur and Smith were very ordinary leaders who stagnated this team , add to that the quota system, you cant get very far.SA's problem is leadership, not the talent. There has not been one inspirational captain since their readmission.address that.Ask me I will give the reins to Botha in all formats,, by far the best spinner in SA and that includes Tahir, and he can bat.

  • maddy20 on December 23, 2011, 17:41 GMT

    Relax pal. Its not like SL is gonna put up a fight anyway. They are well on course for their fourth successive series defeat. And then there are fans comparing Viv Richards to Jayasuriya(ROFL) who never accept this and are busy bashing other sides that are winning!

  • rahulcricket007 on December 23, 2011, 16:23 GMT

    SMITH HAD CHANGE MUCH AFTER WC LOSS . BEFORE WC HE WAS A BIG TALKER LIKE PONTING ONCE WAS .

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  • rahulcricket007 on December 23, 2011, 16:23 GMT

    SMITH HAD CHANGE MUCH AFTER WC LOSS . BEFORE WC HE WAS A BIG TALKER LIKE PONTING ONCE WAS .

  • maddy20 on December 23, 2011, 17:41 GMT

    Relax pal. Its not like SL is gonna put up a fight anyway. They are well on course for their fourth successive series defeat. And then there are fans comparing Viv Richards to Jayasuriya(ROFL) who never accept this and are busy bashing other sides that are winning!

  • aahahaa on December 23, 2011, 17:49 GMT

    All said and done SA chokes, they could have taken the Aussies 2 zip @ home but then couldn't bowl them out the 2nd time. Arthur and Smith were very ordinary leaders who stagnated this team , add to that the quota system, you cant get very far.SA's problem is leadership, not the talent. There has not been one inspirational captain since their readmission.address that.Ask me I will give the reins to Botha in all formats,, by far the best spinner in SA and that includes Tahir, and he can bat.

  • on December 23, 2011, 18:34 GMT

    Great battle ahead of the boxing day test matche

  • on December 23, 2011, 19:20 GMT

    @maddy20: to talk about the 1st match of the series, I didn't see any of the SA batsmen other than AB looked to be comfortable on crease. May be SL team is having a bad time with most of their younger bowlers injured, but my friend don't think SL team is not capable of coming back strongly. since Prasad and Alvitigala joining the squad and are playing on a greenish track like a paddy field; i don't think SA will have a boxing-day fun at all. It might be a day that changes history. may be SL will loose but SL is not a team that goes down without a fight.

  • Herath-UK on December 23, 2011, 19:20 GMT

    Dilshan came up with a career best 190 odd runs after the cardiff debacle and one of the frontline batsmen needs to come up with steel to keep this series alive.Once someone hits the straps I'm certain Sri Lankan can turn the things round. Ranil Herath - Kent

  • playitstraight on December 23, 2011, 23:32 GMT

    Smith and his men are playing really good cricket at the moment, to defeat them in their home conditions will be a great achievement.

  • andrew-schulz on December 23, 2011, 23:35 GMT

    That's an astonishing call-that bowling a side out for 47 achieves redemption for yet another world cup choke....and they didn't even go on to win the series! You have got to be joking.

  • phermon on December 23, 2011, 23:54 GMT

    I'm not sure the "clunicul" is exactly what's needed - the SAs don't have to be boring but it seems that they are under Smith. Some charisma and flair would do wonders for their skill levels.

  • landl47 on December 24, 2011, 0:32 GMT

    If the wicket is flat, I can't see how SL will get SA out, but at least the SL batsmen might save the match. If the wicket has life, then the SA bowlers will get SL out for less than SL makes. It's either a SA win or a draw. Not that SA can take much from this series; without Murali and Malinga and with the batsmen not in great form, SL has been easy pickings for the last year.