Australia v World XI, Super Test, Sydney, 1st Day October 14, 2005

Smith confident of two-spinner strategy

  shares



Muttiah Muralitharan, who wheeled away for 30 overs on the first day, will play a crucial role as the pitch wears © Getty Images

Graeme Smith is confident his plan to use only two specialist fast bowlers will pay off as the Super Test ages on an SCG pitch already assisting the spinners. The World XI decided to strengthen the batting in the six-day Super Test and preferred the allrounder Jacques Kallis to Shaun Pollock for the third seamer's role.

Kallis, who took 0 for 35 from seven overs, has been used as a specialist first-change bowler only twice for South Africa in the past four years and Smith said the move was a "gamble that would reap benefits". "The two spinners are definitely going to offer a lot and the selection panel decided on an extra batsmen and Jacques doing the top-up," he said. "It's turning a lot out of the rough and from day three onwards things will start to happen."

The World XI will start the second day with a new ball and Smith said he hoped to dismiss Australia for under 400. "The first innings is crucial, we need to get into a good position and then push things in the second," he said. "It was a reasonable day. We grafted hard, if anything the total was 20 or 30 runs too much." Smith said the match felt like a Test and he was pleased with the bowling performance on a slow pitch and conditions offering swing for only the first 30 minutes.

Smith also responded to claims in Michael Vaughan's autobiography that he had called Andrew Flintoff, who bowled well with Steve Harmison in the morning session, a "big baby" during England's tour of South Africa last year. "There are no problems," he said. "It's sad when you take things on the field off the field."

Following Smith's debut series in 2001-02 he exposed the Australians' sledging in a magazine article and his stance has changed. "When you play competitively you sometimes say things you regret and I was naïve when I did it," he said. "We are all playing to win for our countries, and we are all getting on well this week."

Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo