Graeme Smith, the South Africa captain, has asked supporters to be patient if the team does not perform to expectations in the upcoming ODI series against Australia. Smith, who led South Africa to a historic win in the Test series, won't be part of the contest, having returned home in order to recuperate from a persistent elbow problem and the fracture he picked up in his left hand during the recent Sydney Test.
Offspinner Johan Botha will lead the team, but Smith said he would be keeping track of the team's progress, especially the youngsters in the side. "We view the series as good preparation for the next World Cup. As captain I actually can't wait for the series to start," Smith told news24.co.za. "I'm really excited to see how our young players will perform. They can play their way into permanent positions in the team with good performances."
Besides regular Test players such as Hashim Amla and Morne Morkel, the ODI squad also includes the likes of JP Duminy, who made a sensational start to his Test career in Australia, allrounder Albie Morkel, and uncapped players Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Wayne Parnell and Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
"It's important that we start identifying the next generation of cricketers for South Africa and ensure that they can give a good account of themselves when it matters," Smith said. "Nobody knows when one of our regular players will be injured."
Last year, South Africa had performed poorly in the ODI series after winning the Test series in England. Smith's elbow injury plagued him then as well, and he played only the first two games of a series they lost 4-0. The poor form of Herschelle Gibbs, Makhaya Ntini and Jacques Kallis - all part of the present squad - led to doubts over their limited-overs future, with coach Mickey Arthur suggesting at building a young side with the 2011 World Cup in mind. Smith admitted the bowlers were inexperienced, and said the team had been unable to fill the void created by Shaun Pollock's retirement.