We are very comfortable with No 1 ranking: Graeme Smith

Feb 12, 2014, 08:29 IST | AFP

If you are the No 1 team in the world, you have to be favourites, says South African captain ahead of first Test against Australia today

Centurion: South African captain Graeme Smith said his team were happy to be regarded as favourites ahead of the first Test against Australia which starts at SuperSport Park today.

“If you are the No 1 team in the world, you have to be favourites,” Smith said yesterday.

Australia captain Michael Clarke (right) and South Africa skipper Graeme Smith pose with the trophy in Centurion yesterday. PIC/AFP

“It’s something we have become accustomed to and we feel very comfortable with it. We’ve been No 1 for a period of time and we’ve travelled to some tough places to get it and to defend it.”

South Africa have not been beaten in a series since Australia defeated them in South Africa in 2008-09 and have built up a formidable record to open a sizeable gap at the top of the International Cricket Council Test rankings.

Australia go into the three-match series on the back of a 5-0 whitewash over England but Australian captain Michael Clarke acknowledged that the series would provide his team with a major challenge.

“South Africa have earned the right to be the No 1 team in the world,” said Clarke. “They are extremely tough to beat anywhere in the world but especially in their own backyard.”

Up against the best
Clarke said his team were looking forward to the series.

“That’s the challenge you want as a player, you want to be playing against the best to see how you measure up individually and as a team.

“It’s a great challenge, test and opportunity for an Australian team who are high on confidence at the moment through the success we had during the Australian summer.”

With both teams boasting formidable bowling attacks, Clarke said batting would be crucial. “Both teams are going to have to bat well because there are two very good bowling attacks. Wickets (in South Africa) have been conducive to fast bowling in the past, which makes it a little bit tougher,” he said.

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