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Smith puts faith in Pollock

South Africa captain Graeme Smith is backing former skipper Shaun Pollock to come good in the remainder of the NatWest series.
PTI | By Agence France-Presse, Bristol
UPDATED ON JUL 07, 2003 03:02 PM IST

South Africa captain Graeme Smith is backing former skipper Shaun Pollock to come good in the remainder of the NatWest series.

South Africa will face England in the final at Lord's on Saturday after the hosts' six wicket win over Zimbabwe at Bristol on Sunday ended the challenge of Heath Streak's men.

But before then South Africa still have two matches - against England in a day/night fixture at Edgbaston on Tuesday and against Zimbabwe at The Rose Bowl on Thursday.

Pace bowler Pollock, 29, has been supremely economical with his 38 series overs costing just a touch above three apiece on average.

But has only taken two wickets even though he has often strangled opponents' innings at birth.

Smith, who became captain after Pollock was sacked following hosts South Africa's first round World Cup exit, said of his predecessor: "Pollock's really bowling well. He's leading from the front, getting a bit of pace and movement.

"He'd like a few wickets but I really think it will turn for him if he keeps doing the simple things well as he is at the moment."

Pollock knows Edgbaston from his time at Warwickshire but the ground is infamous in South Africa as the place where four years ago the team exited the World Cup after a dramatic semi-final tie with eventual champions Australia.

Pollock is one of four survivors still in South Africa's one-day side - opening batsman Herschelle Gibbs, all-rounder Jacques Kallis and wicket-keeper Mark Boucher are the others - ahead of what will be the Proteas' first game at Edgbaston since that dramatic match four years ago.

But whatever happens on Tuesday, South Africa must still play Zimbabwe and fast bowler Streak, whose team were bowled out for just 92 by England on Sunday, said the final could go either way.

"South Africa have come good but England beat them in their first game (by six wickets at The Oval on June 28).

"But (fast bowler) James Anderson is a great find for them and with Darren Gough back, Andrew Flintoff keeping it tight and Richard Johnson making it move off the pitch, they've got a good attack.

England coach Duncan Fletcher insisted that his team, featuring several new faces after their first round World Cup exit, would not be easing up.

"The most important thing is to win," said Fletcher who saw England under new one-day captain Michael Vaughan beat Pakistan 2-1 earlier this season.

Former Zimbabwe skipper Fletcher said Andrew Flintoff's 37-ball 47 not out which saw England home on Sunday had come as no surprise to him.

"He's a dangerous player, he can take the game away from the opposition.

"The problem is he likes to score runs. Sometimes you can't, you have to learn to be a horses for courses player," explained Fletcher in response to criticism that Flintoff, 25, was too reliant on boundaries and not skilled enough at taking singles.

But Flintoff's form pales beside that of South Africa all-rounder Jacques Kallis. In three series innings, Kallis has made two hundreds, one unbeaten and an 82 not out, leaving him with an extraordinary average of 314.

He was not required to bat against Zimbabwe on Saturday but his lively pace bowling saw him lead the attack with three for 47.

What makes Kallis' performances even more impressive is that he has been playing in the shadow of his father Henry's battle against cancer.

Fletcher, his coach at Western Province during his breakthrough season in 1993-94, knew long before then that Kallis was a special talent.

"I remember my first match in Cape Town on a Sunday seeing Jacques, aged ten or eleven, with his dad bowling to him in the nets for two hours.

"He's got a very good temperament - he values his wicket. But if required he can play shots from the word go."

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