Graeme Smith wary of West Indies backlash
South Africa's captain Graeme Smith was confident of his side's preparation ahead of the first Test against West Indies, despite the practice game against Trinidad and Tobago being marred by poor weather.
"We got good batting in the warm-up game and we would have liked our bowlers to have at least 30 to 40 overs in the middle but that did not happen," Smith told cricket.co.za. "But the coaches are confident that the guys have done enough. The bowlers had a good work-out in the middle on Tuesday so I am pretty comfortable where we are in terms of preparation."
The visitors go into the series as favourites, following their sweeps of the Twenty20 and ODI legs of the tour. However, Smith is aware that his side had not played Tests in a long time, and was wary of a backlash from the hosts. So he is eager to make an impact in the first Test and carry the momentum through the rest of the series.
"The first Test is crucial in the series. Mentally we must make sure we are ready for the type of Test cricket we are going to play. The West Indies have been away and re-grouped and have got a few new faces around them. They are that kind of team that if you give them a sniff they can hurt you. They will be very motivated to bounce back after the one-day series loss. From our perspective it is about re-focusing ourselves to make sure that we make the last 15 days on tour positive ones for us.
"The first Test is the one that we really want to make count. It is the one with a lot of question marks about how our preparations are as we haven't played Test cricket for a while. This is the one where we really want to put in a big peg and start well. We must control what we can control and that is to play our brand of cricket that has been successful for quite a long period of time," Smith said.
West Indies have not played Test cricket since the Australian summer where they were competitive despite losing the series 2-0. "Even though they lost their last Test series in Australia they came close in a couple of those matches and they have shown that they can be very, very competitive so we have to make sure that we are on the money," Smith said.
South Africa's last Test assignment was the two-match series in India, which they tied one-all. Smith believes the conditions in the West Indies will be similar to what they encountered on the India tour. "The wicket is going to be pretty dry. Reverse swing is going to be a factor and there is going to be a bit of spin throughout the Test match. I think we can understand that we are going to be playing subcontinent style Test cricket rather than what one might encounter at the Wanderers."