Proteas’ coach Arthur can’t wait for England series
ENGLAND’S triumph in the Ashes series has heightened interest around their clash against the Proteas in South Africa at the end of the year. And SA coach Mickey Arthur is relishing taking on the side who caused Australia to drop from No 1 to No 4 in the Test rankings.
Although he admits he thought Australia would take the Ashes 2-1, instead of the other way round, as it turned out, Arthur has a healthy respect for England.
Before the first of four Tests against England starts on December 13, the Proteas will have competed in the ICC Champions Trophy (next month) and the limited overs contests against Andrew Strauss’s men.
And although South Africa are now the top Test team, they lost their last home Test series against England under Michael Vaughan in the 2004/05 season, just before Arthur took over the coaching reins.
With Kevin Pietersen due to be back in time for the Tests in South Africa, a selection ques- tion arises for England. As Arthur sees it, one scenario sees Pietersen returning to No 4 in the order without any of the other batsmen being sacrificed, and wicketkeeper Matt Prior dropping down to seven. In that event the four bowlers could be Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Steve Harmison and James Anderson.
“If that is the line-up, they will be putting pressure on Paul Collingwood to bowl overs. But they will then be able to pick six batsmen,” said Arthur.
The other scenario sees Pietersen replace one of the top five from the last Test at The Oval, Prior remaining at six and five bowlers being picked.
“They will have the ability to take 20 wickets… but will it be the four-bowlers or fivebowlers route?” asked Arthur.
If England opt for five outand-out bowlers, the Proteas coach believes the extra spot will go to Graham Onions.”
Arthur also had praise for Cape Town-bor n Jonathan Trott, who scored a century on debut for England at The Oval.
“I’m not surprised how well he performed, coming in in the decider. He’s always been sure of himself. Hats off to the guy.”
Arthur agrees with captain Graeme Smith that the Proteas have improved since they beat England in a Test series last year.
“Our self-belief is better, and the guys are more comfortable in their roles. The guys have matured a lot more. We had the experience of winning in Australia, and it will only get better and better. I can’t wait for England.”
As for Australia’s Test combination, Arthur believes they will climb the rankings once more, once they have passed through the re-building phase they are in now.
“A guy like Marcus North has come through nicely. Another key issue for them is to find another opening bat (to partner Simon Katich).
“They got their selections wrong, but when you fail in the first innings as they did in the two matches they lost, you are always chasing the game.
“And their main players played far better here (in early 2009) than they did in England. Mitchell Johnson didn’t ever look the threat in England that he was here,” Arthur added.