We need to break them says Smith
Breaking the spirit of the West Indies early on will be vital if they are to add a limited overs series victory to their Test series win.
South Africa meet the tourists in a Pro20 international at the Wanderers tonight ahead of their five-match one-day series starting in Centurion on Sunday.
The West Indies got off to a cracker of a start with a crushing Pro20 win to kick off their tour in Port Elizabeth, defeating their hosts by five wickets. At one stage, South Africa were struggling on 12/6 and eventually made 58/8 in a rain-interrupted match reduced to 13 overs a side.
The West Indies had no trouble chasing their target despite a magnificent 4/9 return in three overs from South African fast bowler Dale Steyn.
The tourists then cruised to a 128-run win in the first Test in Port Elizabeth before South Africa bounced back to win the last two Tests by seven wickets in Cape Town and an innings and 100 runs in Durban.
Smith said if they had played a fourth Test, South Africa could have broken the resolve of their opposition and it will be important to demoralise them this weekend.
“It’s important for us to start off well again. They will be revitalised and they like this form of the game,” said Smith.
“They have proved before that one player can change a game, so it will be nice to hit them with the first blow this weekend.”
The skipper said he was not worried about the South Africans adjusting to limited overs cricket so soon after the three Tests – the last of which finished within three days last Saturday.
“I have confidence in the guys, but the main thing is that they have confidence in themselves and that mentally we get into the one-day format as quickly as possible.”
The retirement of Shaun Pollock, who is playing his last international series, will force some changes in South Africa’s squad in the near future but Smith was reluctant to admit that young players challenging for places in the team could herald the start of a new era.
The skipper did, however, say that fringe players needed to put their hands up now, including Highveld Lions’ Justin Ontong who makes his return to international cricket after more than two years in the wilderness.
Ontong replaces Herschelle Gibbs, who is not available for personal reasons, in the one-day team on Sunday. And although Gibbs is available tonight, Smith confirmed Ontong will play both games this weekend.
Ontong will be slotted in the middle order while AB de Villiers will be bumped up on Sunday to open the batting with Smith.
“It’s nice to see Justin back, he will get an opportunity on Friday and Sunday and he needs to make use of the opportunity,” said Smith.