Smith and Pietersen go head to head

Published: Thursday, August 7, 2008, 12:31 [IST]
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London: South Africa may have won the series but coach Mickey Arthur says they are still seeking "the complete performance" in the fourth and final Test against England at the Oval starting Thursday.

The match features a head to head clash between South African captain Graeme Smith and new England skipper Kevin Pietersen, who once exchanged bitter insults but who now appear to have developed mutual respect.

After being named captain, Pietersen was unstinting in his praise for Smith's match-winning 154 not out in the third Test at Edgbaston last Saturday, while Smith has said the animosity belongs in the past.

Arthur said there will be no special motivation for the South Africans because of Pietersen's South African upbringing and his criticism of the South African system when he pledged his future to England.

"Not at all," said Arthur. "Our guys are extremely motivated for any Test match, irrespective of who the opposition is or who the captain is."

He said there was no lingering feeling among his players that Pietersen was still a South African.

"He made his decision. It's clearly been a good move for him and he's regarded as the enemy now. We can't claim him."

Arthur said he wished Pietersen well as captain but warned that he would face some major challenges.

"Does it affect his batting, what's his vision going to be going forward? I guess all these things will be answered over the next year or so."

Arthur said he was not totally satisfied with his team despite them leading the series 2-0.

"We are a very goal-driven side. We want to become very resilient, we want to be ruthless and this is part of the journey. For us there's no dead rubber. It's about us winning 3-0.

"There are areas we haven't performed well in. We're looking to improve all the time and become the complete package, which I don't think we are yet."

England coach Peter Moores said he was confident he and Pietersen would have a good working relationship despite media reports that the two had not always seen eye to eye."

"I've always found Kevin fine," he said. "What I like is that he has a view, he's passionate, committed and prepared to work extremely hard."

Moores said he and Pietersen had an hour-long meeting before the captaincy was announced. "We both felt very confident that we could work together."

Pietersen's preparation for his first Test in charge was affected by rain which prevented both teams from practising Tuesday.

South Africa are expected to field an unchanged team, with fast bowler Dale Steyn again missing out because of broken left thumb.

England selected batsman Ravi Bopara in a squad of 13 in place of Michael Vaughan, who resigned from the captaincy and decided to take a break from cricket after his side's five-wicket defeat at Edgbaston.

Fast bowler Steve Harmison could return following a disappointing performance from left-arm swing bowler Ryan Sidebottom at Edgbaston.


England (from): Kevin Pietersen (captain), Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Ravi Bopara, Andrew Flintoff, Tim Ambrose, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Ryan Sidebottom, Monty Panesar, Steve Harmison.

South Africa (probable): Graeme Smith (captain), Neil McKenzie, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince, AB de Villiers, Mark Boucher, Morne Morkel, Paul Harris, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini.

Umpires: Aleem Dar (PAK), Steve Davis (AUS). Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI).


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