Smith, Strauss take confidence from draw

The first Test between South Africa and England went down to the wire at Supersport Park on Sunday. A brilliant spell of bowling by debutant Friedel de Wet brought South Africa tantalisingly close to victory, but obdurate batting by Paul Collingwood and Graham Onions saw England eke out a draw.

”The best thing about today [Sunday] was the way we stuck at it,” said South Africa captain Graeme Smith. ”I don’t think the guys ever took their foot off the gas, and from tea time, when it looked like the game was cruising to a draw, we still stuck at it, which I’m proud of.

”When we took the new ball, there was nothing there for us, and then in 14, 15 overs, we turned the game on its head. It was exciting to be part of and it sets up a really exciting series.”

Smith said that while there might be some frustration at not having got the final wicket, there was no feeling of disappointment in the dressing room.

”The feelings there are of excitement, having been so close, and having bowled so well in the last period. It made it all worthwhile, and gives us momentum going into the next Test match.

”Before the Test a lot of people were asking where we were. Eight months out of the Test arena, and we finished the five days on top. I think we played the better cricket throughout the Test — England probably had a morning, and a partnership between Swann and Anderson — otherwise we played the better cricket.

”Unfortunately, we were a little short of getting over the line here, but we can take confidence out of the way we performed. We’ve adapted to the five-day game well, we’ve put partnerships together with bat and ball and we’ve caught well.”

England captain Andrew Strauss also thought his team would be able to take a lot of confidence out of the draw.

”To get out of jail today was a massive plus for us,” he said. ”If we’d lost, it would have hurt us pretty badly. But we’ll be very confident going to Durban. We played some very good cricket. We had to dig deep a few times, and the players were able to do that.

”We’re a confident group at the moment and I don’t think that anything that happened in this Test will knock us considerably.”

He said he thought the Test had done much to promote Test cricket.

”It was an outstanding Test match,” he said. ”Full of ebbs and flows, both sides had chances to get on top.

”It was great to see the crowd here enthralled to the end. Hopefully there will be more enthralling matches in the series.” — Sapa

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