Thursday, February 29, 2024

‘SA’s next goal is to topple India’

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Johannesburg: Upstaging India from the top of Test rankings would be South Africa’s top priority this season, captain Graeme Smith said on Sunday.

India are top-ranked Test side with 128 points, followed by South Africa (117) and England (115).

Smith spoke to media for the first time after South Africa’s failed World Cup campaign, which ended with quarter-final defeat against New Zealand in March.

South Africa are scheduled to play a two-Test series against Australia in November and a three-Test series against Sri Lanka in December-January at home.

“I remain extremely positive about the Proteas as we set about challenging India for their number one Test ranking,” Smith said at a press conference here.

For that to happen, Smith said his side’s top order need to sort out batting problems, which was a major factor in their unsuccessful World Cup campaign.

“As soon as the new national coach is named I will work out a programme with him to get my game back to the level I expect of myself. The commitment and pride I feel for representing South Africa is still very close to my heart,” he said.

Smith’s first public appearance after the World Cup also set at rest the speculation that he might step down from Test captaincy after having relinquished the top job in ODIs and Twenty20 earlier.

Smith said injury and poor form plagued his batting in the World Cup and the IPL and that he would prepare hard for the tough assignments ahead.

“I will work hard over the next few months to once more attain the high standards I expect of myself. A knee injury that was more serious than originally anticipated cut short my IPL season.

Smith apologised to home fans for not returning home from India with the team after the World Cup exit.

“I apologise and make no excuses, but ask South African fans to understand that I was feeling incredibly emotional and prior to the World Cup… had asked permission to attend a personal matter in Ireland.

“At the time I faced a full media schedule and felt that signalled the end to the campaign. What I did not take into account was the reaction of the public to this decision,” he said. (PTI)

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