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South Africa captain Graeme Smith has warned England to expect a 'heated' Test series this winter.
The five-match campaign begins Friday in Port Elizabeth, where Michael Vaughan's team will attempt to win a record eighth consecutive match and an 11th in 12 attempts this year. But Smith, who proved a thorn in the side when the Proteas drew 2-2 on their 2003 tour, insists the hosts should not be taken lightly despite their recent slump down the Test rankings.
"There is always huge interest when big touring teams come to South Africa and England is a big touring team," said Smith. "The public always like to see us beat the English and it is high on our priority list.
"We expect them to be well prepared, knowing what they have to do to win in South Africa but we know we are hard to beat in our own country and it is going to be a very tough series.
"We are pretty confident in our own ability at home and I think it will be a very heated series and a very evenly fought series. It will come down to who can cope with the pressure and who can exert the pressure."
English eyebrows will no doubt have been raised by the omission of wicketkeeper Mark Boucher, one of the South Africans who best represent their inherent fighting spirit, for the opening match.
But Smith hinted to Radio 5 Live that Boucher, who lost his place to Thami Tsolekile recently after playing 75 consecutive Tests, will be back before long.
"I think Bouch will definitely be back some day, he is one hell of a player," added Smith. He has got the ability and the strength of character and he will bounce back." -365
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