South Africa go into the first Test against Bangladesh at Outsurance Park on Wednesday with one eye firmly fixed on the tour to Australia next month.
“With no disrespect to Bangladesh, it’s hard to prepare for the number one team in the world against any other team, but we are hoping to arrive in Australia in good form,” said Proteas captain Graeme Smith on Tuesday.
“Actually, we have had more cricket than we had before we arrived in England, with people having played in the Supersport series, but it’s hard to get that cutting edge until we actually get there.” But Smith said he was not taking Bangladesh for granted.
“They’re an unpredictable side,” he said. “I expect them to be very aggressive, and we have to be careful never to give them a sniff, or things could get away from us.
“But we want to concentrate on our own disciplines, and we want to play in the style we choose to play. We want real control. I want to see a progression – things getting better and better.” Smith said he was not too concerned about Morne Morkel, who conceded a number o
“He’s an aggressive bowler and a wicket-taker. He’s going to become an unbelievable bowler.
“These guys (Morkel, Dale Steyn and Monde Zondeki) are all still youngsters,” he said. “They are going to have tough days. They need to put in the work, and they need to start to understand their own actions.” He indicated that veteran Makhaya Ntini would probably share the new ball with Dale Steyn.
“They each have their own angles, and Makhaya is particularly effective against left handers, and Bangladesh have quite a few of those in their top order.
“Makhaya has had a good rest and spent time with his family, which is important,” he said. “His energy levels are good and he’s done well in the domestic series.” Smith, who has not played a Test in Bloemfontein, said he expected the pitch to offer the bowlers something on the first two days, and then flatten out.
“It’s a really big outfield, and it’s always very well-prepared. It’s a very good ground to play on,” he said.
South Africa go into the Test series with a full-strength team. Smith said his tennis elbow was coming on well.
“It’s an ongoing thing, but it’s feeling really good at the moment. It’s just a matter of making sure I do my icing and carry on with my rehab.”
The Bangladesh captain, Mohammad Ashraful, said he believed his team would play good cricket, despite their losses in the one-day international (ODI) series.
“This is a Test match, and it’s different ball game,” he said. “We will be focusing on what we can do, and we hope to perform well.” He revealed that Bangladesh had been playing to a plan when they appeared to give up all hope of victory in the ODIs.
“Once we were four wickets down, we decided to try to bat for 50 overs,” he said. “That meant that we got some batting practice against bowlers like Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn and we are sure that will help us in the Test series.” Bangladesh will be without the services of one of their top bowlers, Abdur Razzak, who has been to Australia to have his bowling action tested.
“He arrives in Johannesburg tonight, and gets to Bloemfontein tomorrow morning,” said Ashraful. “He won’t be playing in the first Test.”
The Test starts at 10.30. The weather should be partly cloudy and warm, with a possibility of thundershowers in the late afternoon.
Squads: South Africa – Graeme Smith (capt), Ashwell Prince (vice capt), Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Paul Harris, Jacques Kallis, Neil McKenzie, Morne Morkel, Makhaya Ntini, Dale Steyn, Monde Zondeki.
Bangladesh — Mohammad Ashraful (capt), Abdur Razzak, Zunaeed Siddique, Mehrab Hossain, Naeem Islam, Raqibul Hasan, Shahadat Hossein, Tamim Iqbal, Mushrafe Mortaza, Imrul Kayes, Mahbubul Alam, Nazmul Hossain, Sajidul Islam, Shakib al Hasan