Smith mum on Pollock, Rudolph

South Africa captain Graeme Smith is playing his cards close to his chest and shedding no light on the chances of veteran fast-bowling all-rounder Shaun Pollock and left-handed batsman Jacques Rudolph playing in the third Test against West Indies.

Pollock has missed South Africa’s past three Tests, including the first two Tests of this series, with chronic inflammation of his left ankle that delayed his arrival in the Caribbean until Monday.

Smith admitted that Pollock is short of serious match practice, and that the tour selectors face the difficult decision of whether to risk him for the Test, which starts in Barbados on Thursday.

“Surely, if Shaun is picked, he would be an asset to the squad,” Smith told reporters on the eve of the match. “The only question mark surrounding Shaun is to see whether or not he will last five days. It’s a risk that we need to decide whether we will take into this Test.”

Smith was not drawn into rating Pollock’s fitness, but believes he has the capacity to make it through the match.

“He could easily get through the Test and bowl 20 overs in a day fantastically well, or he could not,” Smith said.
“It’s a 50-50 risk because he has not had Test match bowling for some time, and all I can say is that it’s a risk we will have to decide whether we want to take it.”

Similarly, Smith offered no hints about the place of Rudolph in the squad.

“Jacques’s place is also something that will be up for discussion when the selectors meet,” he said.

Rudolph threw his back out bowling in the nets last Friday in Trinidad and a cloud hangs over his participation.

At the same time, a string of insignificant scores also puts his place in doubt and leaves Boeta Dippenaar—who hit 184 in the two-day practice match against the University of the West Indies’ Vice-Chancellor’s XI over the weekend—chomping at the bit.

It’s the third Test for the South Africans at Kensington Oval, a ground commonly referred to as the “Mecca of Caribbean cricket”, and he is excited about the prospects of playing there.

“This is a great place to play a very important Test that could determine the outcome of the series,” he said.

“We know that West Indies will come back very hard for obvious reasons. They will be fighting hard and will be desperate, so it will be important for us to be focused over the next five days.

“It’s a good ground at which to play. The atmosphere is always great. And the ground usually produces a great Test match, so we want to be part of a very good Test match, but have the memory of winning here.”

South Africa lead the four-Test series 1-0, after winning the second Test at Port of Spain by eight wickets.

The first Test at Georgetown was drawn, and the fourth and final Test, at St John’s, begins on April 29.

South Africa will be looking to win their fourth straight series against the West Indies, and their first road trip in two years.—Sapa-AFP

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