The Castle Lager Proteas are out to extend their unbeaten run in 2012, as they head into the last Test of the series against Australia starting at the WACA in Perth on Friday. The No.1 ranked Proteas have played eight out of nine Tests on the road, and a win will cap off an excellent year and offer them the chance of holding onto their unbeaten away record held since 2006.
“We have played eight out of our nine Tests away from home this year, and we haven’t lost a Test match, I think it has been a pretty strong year for South African cricket,” Graeme Smith said this afternoon. “We are here with an opportunity, we are five days away from being able to win another series in Australia. I think many teams dream of that coming to this place, there are a few of us sitting in our change room who have the opportunity to do it twice, that’s our goal.”
The balance of South Africa’s XI has been the topic of discussion, with the uncertainty over Jacques Kallis’ involvement giving the selectors several options to consider. Robin Peterson looks set to make a return to the longer format for the first time since playing against Bangladesh in 2008, with Vernon Philander back in the fold after recovering from a stiff lower back.
“We need to look at the balance of our team and decide on that initially,” Smith said. “We have to have bowlers and the armoury to do that, that is our big test, to take 20 wickets in the next five days and to win this Test match, we want to give ourselves the best opportunity to do that.
“Robbie (Peterson) has come into contention, Imran by his own admission didn’t perform that well during the last Test match and his confidence is a bit low. Our job is to rebuild that and to give him some direction going back to South Africa, in terms of the role he is going to play and how he can get back to performing at his best.”
This will be South Africa’s 200th Test match since unity and their third at the WACA, the ground where they achieved their famous victory in 2008. The match will hold sentimental value for one of Australia’s greatest Test cricketers, Ricky Ponting, who on Thursday announced his retirement from International cricket at the end of the series.
“Initially it was a bit of a shock especially this week,” Smith said about the announcement. “I have played a lot against Ricky, and he is certainly the most competitive man I have ever played against. The way he played the game and the intensity with which he played the game does him great credit. I think he has always represented Australia with a lot of dignity and a lot of skill. From a South African perspective and from a personal perspective we certainly have a lot of respect for him. We wish him all the best after these five days and whatever he gets involved in.”