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Page last updated at 14:30 GMT, Friday, 27 June 2008 15:30 UK

SA's Smith set to make first Test

Graeme Smith
Smith missed his side's IPL final victory with a hamstring injury

South Africa captain Graeme Smith is ahead of schedule in his recovery from injury and is set to feature in next month's first Test against England.

The 27-year-old tore a hamstring while playing for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL) last month.

Smith is targeting the his side's warm-up match against Middlesex at Uxbridge next weekend for a return.

"The goal is to play at Uxbridge. I think I am a lot further down the line than I expected to be," he said.

South Africa arrived in England on Thursday and will play a three-day match against Somerset, starting on Sunday, in preparation for the first Test at Lord's starting on 10 July.

Smith will not play at Taunton but said he would be ready for the match against Middlesex, which starts on 4 July.

606: DEBATE
"The physio is very happy with me at the moment," said Smith, who hit two double centuries during the 2003 Tests in England.

"I am working at the moment with him and am in his hands still. I would love to think I will be fit for Uxbridge and that is what I am working towards.

"I'm confident but this is the first time I've had this injury so there is always that degree of uncertainty in your head of knowing whether you are going to be 100% or not.

"At the moment I am confident how things are going but we will keep working on it step by step and see what happens."

We view Pietersen as a key batter in the England line-up and that is how we are going to look at things going into the Test series

Graeme Smith
Smith added: "Do I have to play at Uxbridge to play in the Tests? I would love to play at Uxbridge and getting time out in the middle is important.

"But if I have to put the time in the nets before the first Test then I will do that."

South Africa will play four Tests against England and Smith suggested his team could prosper if they restricted swashbuckling South African-born batsman Kevin Pietersen.

"We view Kevin Pietersen as a key batter in the England line-up and that is how we are going to look at things going into the Test series," said Smith.

"If we can negate him as a batter in this series, and make life very difficult for him in terms of being a batsman, then we feel that we can lay a big part in controlling England's batting."




see also
South Africa in England in 2008
14 Nov 07 |  Cricket
Warne's Royals win inaugural IPL
02 Jun 08 |  Cricket
SA recall Nel for England series
23 May 08 |  South Africa


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