Jacques Kallis has promised his side will show no mercy to Zimbabwe in their forthcoming three-match ODI series, due to begin at Goodyear Park in Bloemfontein on Friday.
Kallis, standing in for Graeme Smith as captain, said his side will play as hard against Zimbabwe as they would against Australia as South Africa begin a season that will culminate with the World Cup in the West Indies next April.
Kallis was quoted on a South African website as saying that the series would be ideal for a group of players, including himself, who have been out of action for a while. "This series is especially valuable for the players who have not been in action for a while. This is a good way for them to get back into things."
Kallis, who returns to international cricket after missing the tour to Sri Lanka with an elbow injury, confirmed that everything the Proteas do from now on would be with the World Cup tournament firmly in mind. Kallis has also had a bout of flu and was one of three players who did not participate in the team's fitness tests at the University of the Free State on Wednesday.
Kallis said he had just about shaken off a cold and that the elbow injury that had kept him out of the game was not troubling him much any more. "I have hit a few balls that were thrown to me. The high-intensity net practices during the next few days will be the real test. I believe I'll be ready."
Mickey Arthur, South Africa coach, said the series would be useful for the Champions Trophy. "I expect Zimbabwe to be very competitive, but we are going to focus on our own performance. One could use these fixtures as practice matches, but we would rather ensure that our combinations and match-plans are in place for India."
South Africa will also play the Lions and the Titans after the three outings against Zimbabwe and then three matches in Indian before their first match of the tournament on October 15, against New Zealand. "We are going to play these two matches according to international one-day rules. They are part of the training camp in Pretoria before we leave for India.
"One can practise in the nets as much as you want to, but it's not the same as out in the middle. I want the lads to train with consequences. If you play the ball down someone's throat in the nets, you continue batting. If you do so in a match situation, you have to go and take a shower. I want the players to train under pressure."
Shaun Pollock, with a sore calf, and AB de Villiers missed the fitness tests. Pollock was injured in a Twenty20 match while De Villiers has a minor foot injury. Smith, meanwhile is still recovering from ankle surgery and trained away from the rest of the team, watched by the team's physiotherapist, Shane Jabaar.