Graeme Smith: ‘We need to be more ruthless’

South Africa captain Graeme Smith urges players not to lose focus as they aim to win first home Test series since 2008.

Graeme Smith feels a more consistent squad has lead to overall improvements [GALLO/GETTY]

South Africa have to become more ruthless in their approach as they seek to secure a series-winning victory in the second Test against Sri Lanka, captain Graeme Smith said on Friday.

South Africa have not won a home series since beating Bangladesh in 2008. They have lost and drawn two series against Australia and drawn series against England and India.

The hosts are coming off a comprehensive innings and 81-run win over Sri Lanka in the first Test in Centurion and have the chance to win the three-Test series when the second Test starts at Kingsmead in Durban on December 26.

“We are in the process of improving certain facets of our game. Being more ruthless, being able to string three sessions together in a day is something that we are really trying to do. We haven’t been able to do that consistently and that is where we have been costing ourselves so we want to improve on that,” Smith told a news conference.

South Africa’s skipper went on to say that it was important that his team did not lose their focus during the Christmas

“The preparation is going to be important. Making the most of our time at this time of year is crucial. During Christmas it is important that you maintain your focus. Our preparation is a key factor to that,” he explained.

A more stable ship

South Africa have had a mixed start to their home international season this year drawing a two-Test series against
Australia before the heavy win over Sri Lanka.

Smith said that he felt that his team had shown improvement, partly down to the fact that the same XI had taken to the field in three consecutive Tests.

“We have got better as the season has gone on. There was a more settled nature within the squad during the Centurion Test against Sri Lanka because of the confidence shown in players,” he said.

“That stability around the team, having not played a Test match since January, is crucial and it’s good to see that the
players have taken that on board and performed.”

“We are preparing well but we have not clicked at as a unit and that is the main reason we have not done well”

Sri Lankan captain Tillakaratne Dilshan

Smith’s opposite number, Tillakaratne Dilshan, has a completely different set of problems as he tries to lift his players after a run of 15 Tests without a win.

“We have had a lot of meetings over the last two days about what areas we need to improve on. I feel everybody is mentally strong at the moment. They know what their roles are and they will give 100 percent,” said Dilshan.

“One thing that we can do is that our batting unit has to stand up and get some runs on the board because then we can try and put some pressure on them (South Africa).

“We have an experienced batting line-up in Mahela (Jayawardene), Kumar (Sangakkara), Thilan Samaraweera and
myself. We need to apply ourselves out in the middle. We are preparing well but we have not clicked at as a unit and that is the main reason we have not done well.”

Source: Reuters

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