MELBOURNE // The South Africa coach Mickey Arthur has declared Graeme Smith an all but certain starter for the third and final Test starting in Sydney next week despite his captain's lingering elbow injury. The Proteas called in the batsman Vaughn van Jaarsveld, 23, as cover for Smith and Ashwell Prince, who is still recovering from a broken thumb he suffered in the lead-up to the Perth Test. "I think you'll need a crane to get Graeme Smith out of the Test series," Arthur said after the second day's play at the MCG as his team struggled to 198-7 in reply to Australia's first-innings total of 394. Van Jaarsveld was already part of South Africa's one-day touring squad but Arthur said that his early arrival in Australia would give him a chance to acclimatise to the conditions. Smith - who hit 108 in the second-innings run chase in the win at the WACA - needed painkilling injections before the MCG Test.
The problem has hampered him since leading South Africa to their first series victory in England since 1965 in July. Smith fell victim to the hometown hero Peter Siddle on Saturday but it was his feet, rather than his elbow, that caused his downfall. Smith looked comfortable on his way to 62 but a lack of footwork had him play at a wide ball outside off stump that he nicked to the wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
His opening partner Neil McKenzie's form, however, was more of a concern for the visitors on a day when Australia's bowlers ripped through the top order. McKenzie has averaged 50.70 from 14 matches this year but has scored just 12 runs in three innings on this tour. "He just hasn't got starts unfortunately," Arthur said. "I think once he gets a start his feet will start moving a little better. "Opening against the new ball is a tough job and there are times when you get knocked over very, very cheaply. I'm hoping he gets a start and once he does hopefully he can get some momentum in his batting." *PA Sport