| South Africa’s captain Graeme Smith holds the NatWest trophy at Lord’s on Friday. (Reuters)
London: South Africa captain Graeme Smith will gain inspiration from his first appearance at the headquarters of world cricket in the triangular one-day series final against England at Lord’s on Saturday.
“To captain your country is a career highpoint at any ground, but to come to Lord’s is special with the tradition and everything that comes with the place,” Smith told reporters on Friday.
“Today at practice will be the first time for a lot of us, myself included, to see the ground. It’s a fantastic place, a little bit intimidating first time but it’s great to see.”
After playing both England and South Africa three times in the group stages, Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak has tipped England as the stronger of the two finalists. Smith is not unhappy with the assessment.
“Right from the beginning we’ve said that England are favourites for this tour purely because they know the conditions really well and they know how to play on their grounds,” he said.
“I think that makes them favourites — we are a young side with a lot to learn.”
England will wait until Saturday morning before deciding whether to play pacer Richard Johnson. Johnson, whose career has been dogged by injury, is suffering from a groin strain suffered during England’s four-wicket win over South Africa at Edgbaston on Tuesday.
“He seems all right and and has had a decent bowl this morning,” said captain Michael Vaughan. “But with any injury you have to wait until the next day to see how he wakes up.”
“He’s been an invaluable member of the team since he came in,” added Vaughan of Johnson who took five wickets on his Test debut against Zimbabwe at the Riverside last month.
But throughout his career Johnson has suffered persistently from injuries, a knee problem earlier this season the latest before Tuesday’s groin trouble. “It’s a worry if you are picking up injuries,” Vaughan admitted while refusing to label Johnson ‘injury-prone’.
“Maybe he’s just unlucky. Hopefully, tomorrow he will play.” If Johnson is unfit, Durham fast bowler Stephen Harmison would be the most likely replacement.
England (likely): Marcus Trescothick, Vikram Solanki, Michael Vaughan (captain), Andrew Flintoff, Anthony McGrath, Rikki Clarke, Chris Read, Ashley Giles, Richard Johnson/Stephen Harmison, Darren Gough, James Anderson.
South Africa (likely): Herschelle Gibbs, Graeme Smith (captain), Jacques Kallis, Jacques Rudolph, Martin van Jaarsveld, Mark Boucher, Shaun Pollock, Andrew Hall, Andre Nel, Paul Adams, Makhaya Ntini.