Gary Kirsten is determined that South Africa’s bid to become the world’s number one Test team will not be derailed by the Kevin Pietersen furore.
Pietersen has been axed by England for Thursday’s third Test after failing to reveal the contents of text messages sent to South African players during the drawn match at Headingley.
Kirsten and his squad attempted to distance themselves from the whole situation today, preferring to focus on trying to replace England on top of the rankings.
South Africa head to Lord’s with a 1-0 in lead the three-Test series. “Way back in August last year we put a peg in the ground and said we wanted to become the best cricket team in the world in all forms of the game,” Kirsten said.
“Some people say we are not sure about the rankings, does it hold any water? But deep down every team aspires to it. They like to know they are No 1 in those rankings. We certainly take it with importance.”
Kirsten said England’s decision to include the inexperienced Jonny Bairstow ahead of Pietersen, who scored a brilliant 149 in the Headingley Test, would not change South Africa’s approach. “We will focus on our preparation and the work that we do. We always respect the opposition,” he said.
“We will do the preparation necessary to look at the opposition and what they have got in their team and how we can exploit certain areas.
“We don’t focus heavily on individuals, we look at their team make-up and we look at ways we can exploit. It is no different to what we would do in a normal Test match. We like to believe if we get our stuff right and we get our preparation right and we execute in the right way, we are a difficult team to beat.”