Sport Cricket Proteas left to fret Test toss decision

Proteas left to fret Test toss decision

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South Africa skipper Graeme Smith declared before the first Test that his side no longer fears the toss.

They might change their minds after Smith gave Australia a leg up in the three-Test series before a ball was bowled.

Smith’s logic was that his teammates were skilled enough with bat and ball, so it shouldn’t matter what they have to do on day one.

It’s a claim that will come under close scrutiny should Australia take full advantage of Smith’s decision to send them in at Centurion.

Not least of which will occur out in the middle, where Australian spinner Nathan Lyon will be bowling on a fourth-innings wicket.

Australian batsman Steve Smith says the Australians were surprised when the Proteas skipper opted to send them in to bat.

Smith (91no) formed a game-changing partnership with Shaun Marsh (122no) as Australia reached 4-297 at stumps after being reduced to 4-98.

“We thought it was going to be quite tough in the morning, but that if we got through that initial stage it looked like it was going to be quite a nice wicket,” said Smith.

“It actually was, it played really well throughout the day.

“There’s actually a few cracks forming. Hopefully with the heat overhead we can get a big first innings total and let the cracks come into play.”

South Africa’s Ryan McLaren, playing just his second Test, fronted the media after day one to explain his captain’s decision.

“I think the statistics going into the game say enough,” said the allrounder, who replaced retired legend Jacques Kallis.

“Most of the Test cricket that’s been played at this venue in the recent past has indicated teams that have bowled first have ended up winning.

“The ball did get a lot softer and the wicket did play a bit slower and better as the day went on.”

The Proteas have 14 wins from 18 matches at the venue.

McLaren suggested it was too early to say Smith had made the wrong call.

“This team has showed its character in the past,” he said.

“I’ve got no doubt the boys will respond positively.”