Vol. 5 Num 568 Sat. December 31, 2005  

Smith calls for more ruthlessness

South Africa, needing to win on a spin-friendly Sydney wicket next week to square their three-Test series, must be more ruthless against Australia, captain Graeme Smith said Friday.

The South Africans imploded under the pressure of Ricky Ponting's team to lose the second Melbourne Test by 184 runs in the first over after lunch on the final day, but Smith urged his troops to come back hard in Sydney next week.

"If anything, we need to pick it up and step up our ruthlessness on the field. We need to finish things off," Smith said.

"We've discussed that and we must relax and let it happen. We may just get a bit tense, and that comes down to inexperience, playing the best team in the world. It's the first time to play in Australia for a lot of our players."

The series has been competitive and confrontational, but Smith said there was no bad blood between the two fierce rivals.

"It's not bad blood, it's just very competitive and it's always going to be. Both teams are playing the game very hard and very tough," Smith said.

"For the first time in a while, Australia is seeing a competitive series at home. Everyone has taken to it. Everyone is lifting their game.

"There's always a lot of heat on the ground. There's always going to be tense moments and maybe heated moments, but I think that's what people would rather watch."

Smith is promising no let-up in the intensity, with team coach Mickey Arthur saying that Australia's champion leg-spinner Shane Warne is a master at pressuring umpires in his appeals for a wicket.

But the skipper rued his team's missed opportunities. Andre Nel put down Ponting on 17 before he went on to make 117 and Mike Hussey was grassed by Jacques Kallis on 27 before he finished with 122.