Spearhead Dale Steyn has singled out skipper Steve Smith as the key scalp for a South African team eyeing a third straight away Test series over Australia.
Steyn has only recently conceded top spot in the Test bowling rankings to India’s Ravi Ashwin but he remains the best fast bowler in the world.
With livewire 21-year-old Kagiso Rabada alongside him, and Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander overcoming recent injuries, Steyn is backing South Africa’s attack to prevail in the three-Test series beginning on Thursday at the WACA Ground.
“We’ve got one of the world’s best bowling line-ups so if we can do what we’ve done in the past there’s no reason we can’t knock over the top-order, middle-order and tail,” Steyn said.
“But Aussie captains lead the attack.
“You look at guys who are great players like Steve Waugh and not many people can name a team underneath him, but you remember Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke.
“Steve Smith falls into that category.
“The moment you can get hold of their captain, the rest of the players rely heavily on him.
“He leads the ship so if you pull the plug on that kind of ship when he’s holding it, there’s a way to sink it.”
Rabada has burst onto the scene to cement his spot in South Africa’s bowling line-up with 29 wickets in eight Tests at an average of just over 24.
Steyn can’t wait to see him perform in Australia.
“He brings a lot of heat. His record is pretty amazing for such a young guy, especially a fast bowler who tend to really come into their stripes at 26 or 27,” he said.
“I’ll fall back to the culture and environment in this team where he has got about 10 years’ worth of experience in three years.
“I’m excited to see what he can do because in Adelaide the other night he was bowling really quick and landing the ball exactly where he wanted to.”
The Proteas have won their past two Test series’ in Australia and arrive full of confidence even without captain AB de Villiers.
But Steyn is expecting a fired-up Australia.
“The guys that have never played any cricket here in Australia are coming here with a sense of good feeling because the guys that have been here have done well,” Steyn said.
“It’s not like the feeling in the past when we’ve been daunted with our tails between our legs.
“We are coming here with some good history so we are feeling ready to go.
“If we go fist to fist, let’s see who can fight the longest after three Test matches.”