Proteas will 'play better cricket at home' says Smith

Australia may not have things all their own way when they head to South Africa later this month despite convincing wins over the Proteas in the Test and one-day series, Graeme Smith said in Hobart on Tuesday.

The South African skipper, whose team was bundled out of the triangular series after losing their last three matches, believes the Proteas can turn things around on home soil.

“We know that we can really turn around and play better cricket at home,” he said.

“We’re all looking forward to getting home and performing there and that’s our goal at the moment.”

The South Africans have been on the road for three months, arriving in Australia in early December after a trip to India where they drew 2-2 with the hosts in a limited overs series.

The team has been plagued with injuries since their arrival, including those to key bowlers Andre Nel and Makhaya Ntini and allrounder Jacques Kallis.

But Smith believes things will start to turn in their favour after they take a two-week break in the lead-up to the six one-dayers and three Tests against the Australians back home.

He refused to blame fatigue for the team’s results so far.

“Our excuse is that we’ve just really been terrible at our basics so far,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys playing the best team in the world in their own backyard and they probably realise now that they’ve got to do a lot of improving at their levels to match up at this level.”

He said with Ntini and Nel both expected to return to the side, the Proteas would be a tougher unit.

“Coming out of the Test series a lot of the guys that were here believed we could beat Australia,” he said.

“We didn’t take our chances, we had them under pressure in a number of cases and we just didn’t drive it home.

“I think if we can really get together, perform well, get the same things right and take our chances we certainly have the opportunity back home of beating Australia.”

Home crowd advantage would also work in their favour, he said.

“It’s always a huge asset to play before your home crowd.
It definitely adds another 10, 20% to your game,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to that more than anything else.”

Asked how he hoped the home crowd would treat the Australians following the racial abuse of South Africans during the tri-series, Smith joked: “Hopefully pretty harshly”.

He added: “I hope the South African people will be better behaved than some of the things that we’ve been through on this tour.” - Sapa-AFP

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