Quest for overseas success driving Smith
Photo Source: AP
In just over a month, Australia will host South Africa for the first Test of the summer in Perth, but Steve Smith is taking a dim view of those who dismiss his team's five-match one-day series against the Proteas as a warm-up act.
Australia will play their first one-day international in South Africa since 2011 on Friday when they face the hosts at Centurion's SuperSports Park.
Smith insists his focus is wholly and solely on delivering another overseas series win for Australia on the heels of their 4-1 hammering of Sri Lanka.
The Australians are in Africa without several of their key bowlers, with Mitchell Starc initially rested and then injured, while Josh Hazlewood and James Faulkner have also been kept at home.
It means Mitch Marsh, Scott Boland and John Hastings will lead a changed attack, with Dan Worrall and uncapped pair Chris Tremain and Joe Mennie also pushing for selection.
Smith said the series was important, but not because of the looming home Tests.
"Since taking over the captaincy, I've always placed a big importance in winning away from home in all formats of the game," he said.
"We've got another opportunity here and, hopefully, we can start off well."
Apart from the bowling changes, Australia are also sweating on the fitness of opener Aaron Finch.
The big-hitting Victorian missed the Twenty20 matches in Sri Lanka after breaking a finger in the final ODI of that tour and sat out Tuesday's win over Ireland in Johannesburg.
Smith said he was hopeful Finch would return if he came through training on Thursday without any complications.
"We'll find out a little bit more today," Smith said.
"I think he will be available for selection, yeah."
If Finch is available, he's most likely expected to replace Usman Khawaja, despite him making an unbeaten 84 in the nine-wicket win over the Irish.
The South Africans have lost skipper AB de Villiers for the series and for the Tests in Australia due to an elbow injury.
Another of their top batsmen Hashim Amla sat out training on Thursday due to illness.
Faf du Plessis, captaining the team in de Villiers' absence, doesn't think Amla's condition will be enough for him to miss Friday's match.
"Hash is just a little bit sick today, but it's just a normal rest day for him. I'm 99 per cent sure he'll be fine," du Plessis said.