Smith: 'We can keep England under the cosh'

Click to follow

As if the South Africans had not had enough help from Englishmen in winning the second Test, their captain Graeme Smith revealed last night they had been using the services of a 12th man.

The Mancunian Mike Finnegan is a psychological motivator and Smith, 22, said: "Mike Finnegan has been working hard on the mental side of our game. He started straight after the NatWest final."

That one-day international last month, also at Lord's, had seen the South Africans bowled out for a paltry 107 runs by England, who went on to win by seven wickets. When asked where Finnegan came from, Smith replied guiltily: "He's from England."

After the four-day filleting of Michael Vaughan and his men it is doubtful whether Finnegan will need to be consulted again. After saying: "I don't like to talk about psychological advantage," the record-breaking captain added with a grin: "The atmosphere in the dressing room is indescribable. When I left the boys were running around, shouting; it was mad.

"When we went into a huddle after the last wicket fell I told them to enjoy the moment, but I reminded them to remain humble in victory and tomorrow they must refocus.

"I'd like to think we can keep England under the cosh in the next Test at Trent Bridge. That will be crucial and if we win there I don't think there will be anything left to stop us. We have to make sure we are really up for the game there and be ready to rumble again."

Vaughan will be hoping differently. The England captain must have felt as if he were in a confessional booth as he trotted out the reasons for his side's dismal performance.

"Everyone held their hands up, our shot selection was not good enough, our catching was not up to scratch, in fact Freddie Flintoff [who top-scored for England with 142, his highest Test score] rather saved our blushes at the end.

"I have just given the players a talk in the dressing room and I told them a few facts that I felt they needed to know. You know as captain that you are going to have to say a few things at times that are going to upset people, but that goes with the job.

"But we have to put in a better performance at Trent Bridge. Over the next couple of days I intend to sit down and think about where we went wrong and where we can improve."

Ominously for Vaughan and England, that was the tack that Smith took when looking ahead. "I prefer to concentrate on how we can improve, set higher standards," he said. "We have to keep our momentum going."

Smith was also delighted to learn he will have the services of Andrew Hall until the end of the tour. Hall was initially called up for this Test as a stand-in for Jacques Kallis while the all-rounder attended his father's funeral. Kallis returns tomorrow, but Hall will now stay on as a replacement for Shaun Pollock who will miss the fourth Test to return home to be with his wife, Trish, for the birth of their first child.

"I like having him in the team, he has a big heart, a lot of guts and he is a fantastic team guy," Smith said of Hall.

Vaughan also had a player wish. "I am keen to have a team that I feel can beat South Africa," he said. So is the rest of the country.

Comments