Desperate Smith looking to make home advantage count

SOUTH AFRICA have urged Wanderers groundsman Chris Scott to seize home advantage as they look to level the Test series with England this week.

The Proteas must win the fourth and final Test in Johannesburg to avoid back-to-back home series defeats after losing to Australia last year.

The hosts were frustrated with last week’s pitch in Cape Town, which became slower as the match went on and eventually contributed to England clinging on to a precious draw with a brave last-pair stand.

But South Africa captain Graeme Smith has now called on Scott to prepare a livelier wicket to benefit his fast bowlers as he bids to save the series.

“Obviously they have to win the Test, they don’t want to lose the series,” Scott explained. “They are looking at a result wicket because they don’t want to end with another draw.

“I’ve always maintained that a Test wicket should live up to its name in that it’s a test between bat and ball, unlike one-day cricket where everything is so loaded towards the batsman that the bowlers almost have no chance,” he said.

Meanwhile, England’s batting hero from Cape Town, Ian Bell, has been named in the second-string Lions squad for the limited overs tour to the United Arab Emirates next month.

The 27-year-old was left out of England’s one-day squad for the South Africa tour, but has played in all three Tests so far.

New Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale will lead the side for the tour, which sees England take on Pakistan A and the UAE in Twenty20 and limited-over games.