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JOHANNESBURG: South Africa Test captain Graeme Smith said on Sunday the priority this season was to challenge India for first position in the world rankings.
The South Africans, who are expected to confirm on Monday that former India World Cup-winning coach Gary Kirsten will take charge of the Test, one-day and Twenty20 squads, host Australia and Sri Lanka this year.
Speaking in South Africa for the first time since his team suffered a shock World Cup quarterfinal loss to New Zealand two months ago, opening batsman Smith said overtaking India must be the major goal of the Test side.
“I remain extremely positive about South Africa as we set about challenging India for their No. 1 Test ranking,” he told a media conference at a Sandton hotel north of Johannesburg. “Our top order did not bat as well as expected (at the World Cup) and it is something — myself included — that we need to work hard to address as we prepare for tough series against Australia and Sri Lanka.
“As soon as the new national coach is named I will work out a programme with him to get my game back to the level I expect of myself.
“The commitment and pride I feel for representing South Africa is still very close to my heart.”
Smith confessed that his form at the World Cup and the Indian Premier League (IPL) had not matched expectations, and hard work over the coming months was the solution.
“I will work hard over the next few months to once more attain the high standards I expect of myself. A knee injury that was more serious than originally anticipated cut short my IPL season.
“But time is on my side to get fully fit for the new season and to do what I like doing — giving my best for my country,” said the 30-year-old, who recently became engaged to Irish beauty queen Morgan Deane. — AFP
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