Tuesday 15 April 2008 

South Africa Coach Arthur 'Ecstatic' With Proteas

Coach Mickey Arthur said the future looked rosy for South Africa when the squad returned home on Tuesday following the drawn series in India.

The visitors lost the third and final Test in Kanpur by eight wickets on Sunday as India hit back to square the series 1-1 but Arthur was full of praise for his men.

"I'm ecstatic about the tour...and ecstatic about this team's future," he told reporters. "We've been building this team for the last two years.

"We needed an attack that could take 20 wickets and we've certainly got that, and I'm very happy with the way the top six batsmen have taken responsibility.

"Some of the younger guys, the guys who had potential question marks against their names, have really outdone expectations. Despite the loss in Kanpur we have won 32 of our last 39 international matches, which is an unbelievable ratio."

Captain Graeme Smith echoed Arthur's views.

"This team has found its feet now and to see their success is hugely rewarding," said Smith. "When I first became captain I basically inherited a side but now I've had the chance to build one.

BATTLE HARDENED

"It's a huge positive to captain a side with bowlers like we've got but the top six (batsmen) too have been fantastic. They've scored 17 centuries in 12 Tests.

"The team is battle hardened now and our stats in all three forms of the game have been incredible. But it's important they keep challenging themselves," added Smith.

South Africa will now take a break before starting their tour of England in June.

"We've planned properly, our ducks are in a row and I'm pretty sure the players will be fresh (for England)," said Arthur.

"Obviously there is the IPL (Indian Premier League) between now and then but I'm not worried about that. I'm sure the players involved will maintain their fitness and look after themselves."

Apart from the players involved in the IPL, batsman Neil McKenzie (Durham) and fast bowlers Morne Morkel (Yorkshire) and Andre Nel (Essex) will be going to England early to play county cricket.

© Reuters 2008

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