Arthur calls for end to matey relations

Mickey Arthur strolls around Supersport Park with his pen and notepad AFP

Mickey Arthur, the South Africa coach, has warned England of facing a more intimidating opposition in the ODI series which begins on Friday in Johannesburg. Arthur conceded the hosts were a "little too friendly" at the start of the tour, when England and South Africa drew the Twenty20 series 1-1.

"I thought during the Twenty20 we were a little too friendly," Arthur said on Wednesday. "There was 'Hello Trotty' [Jonathan Trott] and 'How are you, Trotty?'. I saw one of our quick bowlers having lunch with him a couple of days before a game.

"That is all great and they can be good mates, but I thought the series started off a bit too friendly. We upped the voltage a couple of days ago. We needed to up the ante a little."

South Africa came back strongly in the Twenty20 internationals, recovering from a one-run loss [by D-L method] to inflicting an 84-run defeat on England in the second game in Centurion.

Asked if any players in the England line-up had the talent to make it to the South African team, Arthur singled out Kevin Pietersen as the closest prospect, but added South Africa had batsmen who could measure up to his quality.

"It is a tough call because KP has done it over a longer time and really is world class," Arthur said. "But we have world-class young players as well in AB de Villiers and JP Duminy, and we are not even touching the guys we know are world class: Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis.

"I have read that Ian Chappell compares Duminy to Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting as the next player who will bring crowds into the grounds, and De Villiers is right up there, too."

Arthur has targeted individual England players in his comments, and defended the strategy. Referring to the "criminal" use of legspinner Adil Rashid in Centurion, where he conceded 25 off one over, Arthur said: "That was a genuinely honest feeling about Rashid. And if we put a bit of pressure on by giving honest opinions, then great. We know which England players we want to target. Once you become the focus of the media, you have to be strong to deal with it. It is part of the hurly-burly of international cricket."