Proteas’ best chance to beat Australia: Kirsten

December 6th, 2008 - 6:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Johannesburg, Dec 6 (IANS) The South Africans have their best chance of beating the Australians in the three-match Test series starting Dec 17 with the first Test at Perth, India coach and former South African opener Gary Kirsten says.Kirsten, who guided India to a series win over Australia last month, feels that the absence of some top players like Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist and Justin Langer have left a vacuum in the Australian team.

“The Aussies are a difficult team to beat in their own backyard, (but) I believe that the Proteas have their best chance ever to win a series there,” Kirsten told the Afrikaans weekly Rapport.

“Without (these players) the Aussies are forced to include a lot of young, inexperienced players who have not yet made their mark at test level.”

“If the South Africans can put enough pressure on these players, their lack of experience will eventually make the difference, as had happened in (South Africa’s) series against them (earlier),” said Kirsten, referring to a series three years ago, when the hosts targeted the newly-appointed captain Graeme Smith, resulting in South Africa losing the series 0-2.

Kirsten told Rapport the Indian team had exploited the lack of a quality spinner in the Australian side.

“I thoroughly enjoy working with the Indian team and although it took some time, (former South African physiotherapist) Paddy Upton and I are fully part of the team environment no,” Kirsten added.

“The main thing is to build a happy team and an environment in which everyone can trust each other,” Kirsten said, adding that this was an important approach at a time when Indian stalwarts such as Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble had retired.

“Our preparations for the Aussies were exceptional and we could weave a well-bonded team, each member focused on what we wanted to achieve, rather than on individual goals.”

Although he did not say so particularly, Kirsten hinted at current political pressures on the South African side, such as racial quota issues which have been in the spotlight in the past week again: “The South Africans have a lot of potential and for them to perform optimally, demands an environment in which they can do this without fear or threat.”

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