Kallis looking good to play – Smith
Jacques Kallis is looking more and more likely to play in the third and deciding test match against Australia starting at the Waca in Perth on Friday after responding well to treatment for the strained right hamstring which reduced him to a virtual hobble during two nonetheless crucial innings in the second test in Adelaide last week.
Captain Graeme Smith confirmed that his prized allrounder would play no role with the ball in Perth – if selected – but was increasingly confident that he would be able to play as a specialist batsman.
“It’s looking more positive, Jacques is coming along nicely – hopefully he’ll get through today’s practice and wake up feeling good tomorrow. That would be nice,” Smith said before training on Thursday. “If he’s fit then he will bat in his usual place at No 4.
The Proteas have a number of options to cover for Kallis the bowler: “I’ve been bowling a bit of medium pace in the hotel... not really,” Smith joked.
“We’ll have a look at the balance of the team and decide after . We want to win the test match and you need to have the bowlers and the armoury to take 20 wickets in order to do that.
“If Jakes plays then he has to field. We won’t get any substitutes for him – we don’t have any intention of playing with 10 men, we’ve already done that twice in this series! It’s not a decision we’ll take lightly.
"If he’s not fit to bat, run and field, then we won’t select him. It’s as simple as that. He won’t be able to bowl and we have a variety of ways we can make up the overs he would have bowled.”
Left-arm spinner Robin Peterson comes into strong contention for a place in the attack with Imran Tahir not being considered after his nightmare test match in Adelaide although he is not a certainty with Knights batsman Dean Elgar also providing a spinning option with his tidy left arm spinners. In fact, Peterson and Elgar could both play if Jacques Rudolph is omitted after a disappointing couple of tests in Brisbane and Adelaide.
Another option would be to play just six specialist batsmen with allrounder Ryan McLaren at No 7.
“We are certainly considering going with six specialist batsmen,” Smith confirmed.
Australia’s decision to omit both Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle from their match squad of 12 surprised the South African captain.
“They’ll have a whole new bowling attack, which is a bit of a surprise. There’ll be some adjusting to be done for us as a batting unit, especially with two left-armers (Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson) coming in to the attack, but it will be interesting, too, to see how quickly they adjust to the new game plan.
"No doubt they will all be very keen to impress, but it will be interesting to see whether they can do it as a unit over the course of five days.
“Australia have played really well and we haven’t played at our best, but we are still here and still have the opportunity to do something special, which is to win a series here. There are a couple of us in our changerooms with the chance to win for a second time here, and that would be very, very special,” Smith said.
Just as he did before leaving South Africa, Smith again paid special tribute to Ricky Ponting after the former Australian captain announced that he would be retiring from international cricket after the Perth test.
“He is the most competitive man I ever played against. He played the game with a lot of dignity and skill and has been a credit to the game and his country. I wish him all the best after these five days with whatever he gets involved in,” Smith said.
“Ricky initially taught us a few lessons – he was a world-class batsman who took the game away from us on a number of occasions. My early memories were of a very competitive man who never gave an inch.
"Of late we’ve been able to get a little bit of revenge, but he was always there and making an impact on the test match.”