South Africa go into the fourth and final Test match against England on Thursday one-nil down, and needing a victory to level the series and retain the Basil d’Oliveira Trophy.
However, South Africa feel they have dominated the series, coming within one wicket of winning both the first Test in Centurion and the third in Cape Town.
South Africa’s premier batsman, Jacques Kallis, the leading run scorer in the series, said on Tuesday that South Africa had to believe that they were the better team.
“Maybe England feel differently, but we’ve go to believe that,” said Kallis.
“I think at times we played some very good cricket. There was a two-day period where we didn’t play good cricket and lost the Test in Durban, but other than that, we’ve dominated two of the three games.
“So we’ve still got a lot of belief and we believe we will come out on top in this Test match if we play anything near what we’re capable of.”
Kallis praised England for the way they had fought to stay in the two drawn Tests.
“They haven’t given up,” he said. “They’ve been in tough situations in two games where they’ve been totally out of it, and they’ve managed to get out of those situations.
“It shows that they have a lot of fight and character. Unfortunately, we were in that situation in Durban and we crumbled.”
He picked out spin bowler Graeme Swann and middle order batsman Paul Collingwood as two people who had done the most to deny South Africa victory in the two drawn Tests.
“Swannie has had a very good series against us from a bowling point of view and Collingwood has played major innings that have saved the game. He’s been key for them. They have been a thorn in our side.”
Kallis said he had looked at the pitch, and did not think it was as bad as people were suggesting it might be.
“It’s not as green as I’ve seen here before,” he said. “I’ve seen a few greener ones. It’s going to do a bit, there’s no doubt about that, and you’re going to need a bit if skill to get through it.
“But our guys are used to playing on wickets that bounce and go around a bit a little bit more than England are. Hopefully that plays in our favour.
“Our guys have been working on a few things — a couple of ideas that have been thrown around about what to do when the ball does a little more.”
He said he enjoyed the challenge of playing on a pitch that did something.
“Obviously, as a batter you want the wicket to be nice and flat, but hopefully when I’ve got the ball in my hand it will go my as well,” he chuckled.
“But it is a nice challenge. It’s not often that you play on Test wickets that go around a hell of a lot. I think our wickets do the most in the world, so our batters are well-equipped for this, and I think they are looking forward to the challenge.”
Collingwood said that he was ready for the final battle.
“I might bore a few people but it’s a job. And it’s a job I enjoy. And I love to annoy the opposition,” he said.
“Getting a draw when the other side are winning can be vital. It really hurts the opposition. And for me, staying out there for four hours and getting 40 can be better than a hundred.” — Sapa