x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

South Africa get tips on Leeds wicket before England Test

The Proteas batsman spent five season at Yorkshire which has notions of being a bowler-friendly venue.

Jacques Rudolph says the perception that Headingley is a bowlers’ venue is wrong having played with Yorkshire for five years.
Jacques Rudolph says the perception that Headingley is a bowlers’ venue is wrong having played with Yorkshire for five years.

LEEDS, ENGLAND // South Africa are hoping to make Headingley their home from home as they threaten England's world No 1 Test status.

One more win, after last week's landslide success in the first Test at The Oval, will give the tourists an unassailable series lead - with one match to play - and will mean England have lasted less than a year as the official top team.

South Africa have their captain Graeme Smith back for tomorrow's Test too, following his week-long return to Cape Town to witness the birth of his first child.

In Leeds, they have another handy asset in Jacques Rudolph's local knowledge.

The batsman spent five seasons as a Yorkshire before resuming a Test career which had already included a 2003 victory at this same venue.

"I had five very good years here, and I've some fond memories of playing with some really good people," he said. "It's really nice to be back here. I share a lot of sentiment in this place."

Rudolph acknowledges he owes much to Yorkshire too, for helping him make the most of his potential.

"At the time when I decided to come over here, I was at a bit of a tough place in my career and needed to rediscover my love for the game," said the 31 year old.

"In these surroundings, I learnt about myself and became more mature as a batsman."

Rudolph will tell his teammates not to get carried away with Leeds' reputation for seam and swing. "There is a perception that Headingley can be a bowlers' venue. But as a batsman, when you get yourself in on this wicket you can go big," he said.

The failure to capitalise on a good start and score big was what cost England in the first Test, according to the coach Andy Flower.

"They outplayed us," said Flower about the South African performance, which saw them make 637 for two declared in their only innings, inspired by an unbeaten triple century from Hashim Amla.

"They played outstanding cricket. We fought hard but we weren't good enough. We get another opportunity on Thursday."

Asked how England could recover after a comprehensive defeat, Flower said: "We get ourselves into the right frame of mind by doing the things that we have been doing very well for the last couple of years."

"I have every confidence in our players that we can come back and play good cricket."

"Part of our make-up has to be to deal with those ups and downs," added Flower.

He said the momentum in the first Test changed when England failed to capitalise on a good start in the first innings, as they collapsed from 251 for three to 385 all out.

"On a pitch like that you need a significant score and after some outstanding performances on the first day we didn't capitalise and the South Africans bowled well that second morning," the coach added.

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