South Africa v Zimbabwe, 2nd ODI, Potchefstroom October 17, 2010

Smith wants team to lift ahead of tougher tests

Liam Brickhill in Potchefstroom

As most would have expected, South Africa secured the one-day series in Potchefstroom to follow their 2-0 victory in the Twenty20s. But while their batsmen have feasted on Zimbabwe's bowlers, the hosts' own bowling and fielding have not been on a par with their usual lofty standards. Graeme Smith, the captain, admitted his team has a lot of work to do ahead of potentially more challenging engagements against Pakistan in the heat of UAE, and India back home.

"The little things don't affect your game as much when you're playing against Zimbabwe," said Smith after South Africa's eight-wicket win, "but they do when you're playing in the subcontinent or when you're playing India or England or Australia or Pakistan, which is coming up in Dubai.

"We're not at the standard that we had been at for quite a period of time, and there are a lot of guys that are still trying to find their feet in different positions in the field so we've just got to keep pushing them and hopefully they'll get there. If we can keep training and thinking in the right way, and committing to our skills I think the guys will get there."

Smith did, however, make a special mention of Rusty Theron's "terrific" maiden international five-for. Theron, who finished with 5 for 44, has experienced the South African dressing room before his international debut on this tour - he was part of the World Twenty20 side but didn't get a game - and credited his IPL stint for easing the transition to the top level. "Coming back into the group again it wasn't such an unfamiliar feeling," Theron said. "The guys have been really good in helping me back into the set-up, and that's really helped me settled down.

"Other experience, such as the Champions League and IPL, has given me a lot confidence in the sense of playing against top international players and waging your skills against them. If you were to come straight from normal domestic cricket into international cricket it is a bit more of a challenge, so I've been helped by my experience."

After the final ODI at Benoni on Friday, Smith and his men leave almost immediately for Abu Dhabi where their series against Pakistan begins with two Twenty20s at the Sheikh Zayed stadium on October 26 and 27. Within a month, they will then play five ODIs and two Tests in conditions unlike any most members of the squad have experienced before - the last time South Africa were in the region was a decade ago.

"We haven't been there for ages," Smith said. "Sharjah was the last time we went over to that area, so it's going to be a big learning curve for us in terms of what to expect. We expect it to be quite similar to subcontinental conditions. I think the heat there is going to be a massive factor, and we expect conditions to be similar to what we would get in the subcontinent so hopefully once we get there we'll be able to sum it up pretty quickly."

Liam Brickhill is an Assistant Editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on October 22, 2010, 8:21 GMT

    Well Graeme Smith is a respected Captain and a respected cricketer around the world ... and i can guarantee that he will lose a lot of fans around the world if he keeps on speaking like this about the other tiny teams like Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Ireland, Afghanistan ... And obviously the statement is almost true for a team of stature like S/A, Australia, India, England (though i won't say such about Bangladesh anymore) but yes the little thingz may sometime be ignored ... but THAT IS NOT THE SPIRIT OF CRICKET Mr. Smith ... Plz respect the other teams even if they cannot fight you head to head ... its not that u have to change your playing style ... just change the way you approach to them and comment about them ... Just a couple of series ago Virender Sehwag commented about Bangladesh that they are very ordinary team ... and he was looking forward to thrash them ... and we all know how it bit back in his own bum ... :D And now NZ got 'Bangla Wash'ed and soon Zimbabwe will come up too.

  • Rob on October 20, 2010, 1:48 GMT

    @ Wolver and Sai Prasad, Zimbabwe did lost the series thought. But they have scored @5 runs/over and with this young and inexperienced side to score that much runs against mighty S. African's is a huge boost. A good spell of bowling from smbdy frm Zimbabwe may have turned the match......who knows. It is not the side that got all out under 200.....see the score....??

  • Dummy4 on October 18, 2010, 17:31 GMT

    Well smith is spot on. When was the last time Zimbabwe won against a full strength test playing nation? Truly they need to pick themselves up ahead of the next series even though Pakstan is a depleted side now(unless they get back Younis Khan to lead them)

  • Dummy4 on October 18, 2010, 15:58 GMT

    true to boot , words maketh a man and these words have certainly lowered mr smiths standing in my eyes , ...the little things... i hope he doesnt mean that they can beat zim even if they dont bat or bowl or field well , correct me if im wrong but hasnt smith been dismissed in all his innings so far , not a fifty to his name against the minnows of zimbabwe , the little things indeed!

  • Wolver on October 18, 2010, 13:23 GMT

    Robdahl - I think you are taking this out of context. This current Zim team could not upset SA and Smith knows that. I agree that they have improved a lot but they have very far to go to get back to their 2000 level. Knowing politics in this part of the world it is highly unlikely they will reach those hights again.

  • Rob on October 18, 2010, 6:27 GMT

    "The little things don't affect your game as much when you're playing against Zimbabwe," said Smith. I think this is an understimation of Zimbabwe's potential. I guess he should realise that Zimbabwe is a side that can upset any team if things go their way. He should also keep updated that Bangladesh has won 4-0 series against New Zealand. So, anything can happen in this beautiful game of cricket. Zimbabwe is certainly unexperienced but all the players are getting the experienced simultaneously coz they are all comparatively new to the game. But when they get experienced with a lot of match practice they can upset any teams in the world. Weigh your words carefully Mr. Smith.

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