PERTH (Reuters) - South Africa skipper Graeme Smith is hoping all-rounder Jacques Kallis will be fit to bat and that the tourists’ much-celebrated bowling unit finally clicks in the third test showdown with Australia this week.
Kallis has already been ruled out of a bowling role after suffering a hamstring injury in the second test in Adelaide, which like the first test in Brisbane ended in a draw to send the series to Perth all square.
”I think Jacques is coming along nicely and we’ll wait to see how he comes through today and tomorrow morning,“ he told reporters. ”Hopefully he’ll wake up tomorrow morning and be good to go. It’d be nice.
”If Jacques is picked he’ll have to (field) because we’re not going to get any substitutes for him and we’re not going to play with 10 men, we’ve already done that twice in this series.
“We won’t take that decision lightly, if he’s not fit, we’ll get someone else to play his role in the game.”
Smith said paceman Vernon Philander, who missed the second test with a back injury, was ready to rejoin Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel in the bowling attack on what is expected to be a lively surface at the WACA.
The South African fast bowlers arrived in Australia with a huge reputation but have disappointed on the tour so far, hampered by good pitches and some fine Australian batting.
“We’ve bowled well in patches but we haven’t done it for long enough,” Smith conceded.
”The wickets have been good and we haven’t stacked up enough together and often enough. Australia have attacked us at the right time, which has put pressure on us.
”(But) we know we have that capability and hopefully it’ll all click for us over the next five days.
South Africa need a draw in the final test of the series against Australia to retain their position as the world’s top test team but Smith made it clear they did not reach such lofty heights with modest aspirations.
“There were always going to be challenges along the way,” he told reporters on Thursday.
”To be here, five days away from another series win in Australia, many teams dream of that coming to this place.
“There’s clarity over the next five days. We have had a few disruptions on this trip but we’ve scrapped hard. Australia have played really well, and we haven’t been at our best, and we’re still here.”
If South Africa go with a spinner in Perth, as Smith suggested they would, left-armer Robbie Petersen is likely to return for his first test in four years in place of Imran Tahir, who accumulated figures of 0-260 in Adelaide.
“I think Robbie has come into contention, I think Imran, to his own admittance, has not performed that well over the last test match,” Smith said.
Smith paid fulsome praise to Ricky Ponting, who said on Thursday he would be retiring from international cricket after the Perth test, but said it was by no means certain that the announcement would add motivation for the Australians.
“Maybe,” he said. “That’s not for us to worry about. Our job is to get us ready to compete. From our perspective, nothing really changes.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford