Despite spirited performances in their three previous tours, South Africa have yet to win a Test series in England since their readmission to the international sporting arena in the early 1990s. Jacques Kallis was part of the team that lost 2-1 in 1998 and drew 2-2 in 2003, and he's very keen to redress that this time around.
"There are three things I really want to achieve: One is beating England in England, a second is beating Australia - and the third is winning the World Cup," Kallis told News24.com. "We've come close in the past and made some silly mistakes at times when we shouldn't have." South Africa held a 2-1 lead in 2003 going into the final Test at The Oval, where despite making 484 in the first innings, the visitors lost after Marcus Trescothick scored a double-century.
"This time we hope we can learn from those mistakes and get the foot all the way in through the door, not just halfway - and make sure we play those big moments better than England," he said. "We're probably just favourites - although England being at home maybe makes it pretty much even.
"We've worked hard on our game. Everything we've done in the last year has been towards this series and the Australian one still to come." Kallis has also been assisting younger players such as AB de Villers and JP Duminy with their batting. "I started doing it during the past year or so," he said. "It's always nice when someone is successful after you have been helping him. By putting yourself in a team-mate's boots and pointing out to him what he may be doing wrong you think about your own game and what you have to do."
Kallis also indicated his team will have to dismiss the South African-born Kevin Pietersen early. "He is obviously a key batsman, who has done well in these conditions. The wickets are quite slow here, and that does suit the way he bats," he said. "He's a world-class player who's proven it over the last few years, so we'll have to be on top of our game against him. It will be important that we try and attack him early and get him out early."
Disenchanted with the quota system in South Africa, Pietersen opted to play for England; his eligibility coming courtesy of an English mother. Pietersen's tiff with Graeme Smith, the South Africa captain, is well known, but both Kallis and Mark Boucher said their team respected the England batsman.
"I respect Kevin as a person and what he's been through," Boucher said. "I take my hat off to him, and he's a great player.We see him as England's best batsman. But come game time, it's about South Africa v England, and we've got to try and get him out.
"Just because it's Kevin, it doesn't make any difference to us. We just want to get an English batsman out."