Kallis injury blunts South Africa attack

Experienced South Africa all-rounder Jacques Kallis will not be able to bowl in the first Test against England, captain Graeme Smith said on Tuesday.

Kallis has a fractured rib cartilage and will play as a specialist batsman only, weakening an attack that will rely on fast bowlers Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini and Morne Morkel, and spinner Paul Harris.

”We obviously won’t have the luxury of Jacques bowling, but the other bowlers know they have to take responsibility and they’ve been picked to do their jobs well,” Smith told a news conference.

”It’s been a lengthy period since we last played Test cricket, but we have a very mature squad who have enjoyed a lot of success and they know what to do. We are as best-prepared as we can be; there’s been a good, calm focus and intensity about our preparations.”

England captain Andrew Strauss leads a team including four players born in South Africa: himself, batsmen Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott, and wicketkeeper Matt Prior.

”The fact there are South Africa-born players in the team is not an issue for us, we know we have the best 15 players in England here. The fact some of them were born somewhere else doesn’t come into it. It’s a non-issue,” Strauss said.

England will delay naming their side until Wednesday morning but Strauss said he had a full squad to choose from.

”We’re very happy with the way Jimmy Anderson has pulled up, his knee niggle has never stopped him from bowling at any stage and he has progressed the way we wanted.

”Graeme Swann’s side is still niggling him but as a spinner he does not put as much strain on it as a seamer and it’s something he’s more than capable of playing through,” Strauss said.

Frontline bowlers
England may call up all-rounder Luke Wright and play just five specialist batsmen, or name six specialist batsmen and just four frontline bowlers.

”Obviously if the pitch is going to do a huge amount, it makes a case for playing an extra batsman, but we’re still not 100% sure how the pitch will play,” Strauss said.

The match will be the first for each side since the official introduction of the umpire decision-review system.

”We’ll have to be smart about how we use the review system. My initial reservations about it have not gone away, but I hear the more you use it, the better it gets,” Strauss said.

”I think the review system still needs to prove its worth,” Smith said. ”I’m a little bit sceptical about it but we’ll have to be positive.”

Ntini plays his 100th Test and Smith praised him not only as a fast bowler but also a significant figure in a troubled country still grappling with profound racial issues.

”Transformation is ongoing, it’s something we have to keep working on, but Makhaya has been a real success case and it’s been great to have been part of his career,” Smith said.

”He’ll tell you that his success is down to a lot of hard work. He’s had his ups and downs but he’s always met them with 100% commitment.

”Makhaya has become the spearhead of our attack and I’ve been very grateful for his energy and commitment as a leader.

”He’s a vibrant person and he’s played a prominent role, not just in this team but in South Africa,” Smith added. — Reuters

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