Faf knows exactly what Australia captain Smith brings to the party

01 March 2018 - 10:12 By KHANYISO TSHWAKU at Kingsmead
Australia captain Steven Smith and his South African counterpart Faf du Plessis pose with the trophy presentation at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on February 28, 2018 in Durban, South Africa.
Australia captain Steven Smith and his South African counterpart Faf du Plessis pose with the trophy presentation at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on February 28, 2018 in Durban, South Africa.
Image: Gerhard Duraan/Gallo Images

Depending on which side of the fence you're on‚ Proteas captain Faf du Plessis has had the pleasure or misfortune of dealing with two of the world's best batsmen in one summer.

Virat Kohli's departure‚ regardless of his skilful arrogance‚ was greeted by Steven Smith's arrival.

The Australian captain may be less cocky and confrontational‚ but has a batting average of 63.75 that speaks for itself in every sense.

Du Plessis is fully aware of how Smith likes to stamp his authority on a series from the get go and Thursday's first Test at Kingsmead will be the perfect stage for him to parade his exceptional talents.

Smith feasted on the English during the Ashes series and will want to improve on the moderate series he had under Michael Clarke's captaincy in the 2013/14 season.

Smith scored an even 100 in the first test of the 2013/14 series at SuperSport Park in Centurion on his way to 269 runs at 67.25.

His Ashes average of 137.40 where he tallied 687 runs is the stuff of nightmares for any captain.

Joe Root was the suffering visiting captain and Du Plessis doesn't want to find himself in same position.

The general strength of the Australia team means South Africa can't afford to have an off-day.

“Smith's had a very good season and he's scored a block-load of runs‚" Du Plessis said.

"Leading up to the previous series we played against them‚ he was still their best batter but we kept him quiet to some degree.

"He's a very good player for them and similar to the Indian team‚ they've got one or two stand-out batsman.

"If you can put pressure on them and keep them quiet‚ that generally reflects how your series will go.

“Australia will be a very good team when they're on top so for us‚ it'll be about limiting those moments.

"There will be times when they'll be on top but we'll have to absorb that time on the top and get through it and make sure we don't lose clusters of wickets.

"From a bowling perspective‚ it's about how well we'll keep them quiet.

"If we keep their run-rate down‚ we can capitalise if they lose a wicket or two.

"When they're scoring freely‚ they can really get on top of you.”

Smith has warm memories of his ton that rescued Australia from the depths of 98/4‚ from where they comfortably won the game on the back of a ferocious spell of fast bowling from Mitchell Johnson.

Another protagonist from that Test‚ the erratic but hugely talented Shaun Marsh‚ will also be back for another crack.

Smith though isn't too fussed about Australia's outstanding record in South Africa but took solace in his brilliant innings during the previous tour. “The conditions here are similar to what we have back home so I guess the only different thing is the crowd and that's against you‚" Smith said.

"Other than that‚ I can't really put my finger on why South Africa have been good in Australia and we've been good here.

"I'm not so sure why.

“The hundred I scored in Centurion gave me a lot of belief.

"They had a very good attack at the time and they still have a good bowling attack.

"Knowing that I got a hundred against a good attack ‚ I could do it again against any team.”


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