Proteas’ coach Arthur can’t wait for Eng­land se­ries

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - MICHAEL DOMAN

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.

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