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South Africa much improved now: Smith

November 24, 2008 18:11 IST

South Africa captain Graeme Smith said his side was vastly improved since they last toured Australia and are ready to put the world's top side under pressure in their three-Test series starting next month.

"We have a very different frame of mind from then, we're more settled and we've enjoyed a lot of success recently," Smith said on Monday. "We know what to do to be successful."

The South Africans were beaten 2-0 on their last trip Down Under in 2005-06, but Smith said the chasing pack was closing in on Australia.

"Australia are a top-class side and they have handled the mantle of being number one in the rankings very well over the last decade," he said in an International Cricket Council (ICC) teleconference to highlight the ICC's HIV/Aids partnerships.

"But there is a lot of pressure when you are at the top of the game, everyone is chasing after you and, as they say, the wind blows strongest at the top of the tree."

South Africa forced a creditable 1-1 draw in their Test series with India in April and the lessons learnt will serve them well for the Tests in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.

"We're very aware that playing India is a very tough series on their home grounds and it certainly did not pull the wool over our eyes as to the challenge we will face. Australia always play well at home, the fact they haven't lost a series there for 16 years proves that.

"But we picked up a few ideas from the India series, although we will get most of our information for what we want to do tactically from the Tests (Australia are playing) against New Zealand," Smith said.

South Africa play three Tests against Australia starting in Perth on Dec 17. The Tests are followed by a five-match one-day series.

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