The South African coach was talking ahead of the fifth and final day’s play at the SCG and it was rather interesting to hear some of his comments to the media.
Mickey Arthur spoke of the fact that while the game was still not out of South Africa’s hands yet and that there could be another miraculous run chase tomorrow, he expressed his surprise that Ricky Ponting did not want to go for the 400 mark.
Arthur said that too many players in the team had given it their all to let a score like 2-1 get through and would rather see a 2-0 in lieu of 3-0 if the latter was not possible. But he said that the team approach would be one to go to tea safe ideally and then assess if going for win was plausible.
As for the possibility that injured captain Graeme Smith would play, he said the dressing room would have a tough time chaining him down if the team needed to bat out a couple of overs or only a few runs were required for victory.
But it would mean Smith having to dispose off his cast to do so, this after flying Melbourne to get his first round of injections into his elbow and set a cast on his fractured hand.
Here are some of the comments excerpted from news reports out of Australia:
Arthur on Smith: “I doubt Smith will come out. If there is one or two overs to see out a draw or a win, we are going to need a chain to chain him down in the dressing room.”
Arthur on the approach on fifth day: “If we can get ourselves to tea, hopefully if we are unscathed at tea time … then we will be ready to launch a proper assault.”
Arthur on the mood in the dressing room: “Let me tell you there is a dressing room full of guys there who don’t want to give an inch. They have been absolutely amazing for the last 14 days (of play) and none of us want to end up losing the last Test. We went 2-0 up (in England last year) and lost the last Test in a dead rubber and it took the gloss off our Test victory a little bit so we learnt the hard way there.”
On his surprise at Ponting’s declaration: I was (surprised). I thought they would go a little bit longer to be honest. I thought based on what has happened through the series they would look at 400..I also thought they would probably give themselves 16 overs (to the close of play.) That was what we thought and I think it is a great decision. Ricky has realised the wicket has not deteriorated as much and it probably takes a little bit more time to bowl us out.”
Smith on taking part in the Test at Sydney after injuring himself: “I seriously doubt it. It’s not worth it. The surgeon was generally happy with my injuries and feels that I am on course to recover provided I don’t take any more blows in the affected areas….It’s been a process of sort of keeping myself on the field and it’s been going really well but I think God just said ‘take a rest now’ and I’ve got six weeks off on the sidelines.”
On his boys and the prospect on the fifth day:
I think we’ve still got opportunities that lie ahead of us and that’s the way we’ve got to look at it,” Smith said. “We probably let a few of those opportunities slip in the early part of the Test match and this is why we’re in this position. But we certainly have the character and we’ve shown that, that we can come through, so it would be nice to see it again from the boys.”