Proteas turn attention to England

After one of the most successful seasons since unification, the Proteas have a few weeks off before gearing up for one of the toughest assignments on the cricket calendar—a tour of England.

The two-month tour of England includes four Tests, one Twenty20 clash and five one-day internationals, as well several warm-up games. The Proteas have not won a series in England since unification, but coach Mickey Arthur and captain Graeme Smith believe they have the team to do so this time.

“Our bowling attack is now one of the strongest in the world,” said Arthur after the team’s return from India, where they drew the three-Test series one-all.

“Our young players all came through very well in India, and I believe they will continue to do so.
In fact, I’m ecstatic about the tour [of India], I’m ecstatic about the season we’ve just had, and I’m ecstatic about the future of this team.”

Arthur said most of the team would have a few weeks of rest after the rigours of a season that included three tours to the subcontinent.

“Some of them are playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL), but even those guys will have a nice break before we go to England. We are planning to have a training camp from about June 15 before we go.”

He said several members of the team would be playing county cricket in England before the start of the tour, and this would be of benefit to the Proteas.

“Neil McKenzie will be playing for Durham until early June, and that will be good for us. Morne Morkel is going to Yorkshire. I’ve talked to Yorkshire about not over-bowling him. But he’ll be able to learn about lines and lengths in those conditions.

“Andre Nel, who could well be back in the picture, will be playing in Essex, so we have several players who will be right in tune with the conditions in England.”

Arthur said he did not anticipate many changes to the squad that travelled to India.

“I will speak to Joubert [Strydom, convenor of selectors], but why would we make changes to a side that has done so well,” he asked.

Smith said he believed South Africa had the team to beat England.

“Our bowling attack is superb,” he said. “We definitely have one of the best bowling attacks, and what is very encouraging is that the younger players, like Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, have really stamped their authority.

“Our batters have also done well across the board. There are always a few things we can work on, but I believe this team has the ability to beat England in England.”—Sapa

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