LEEDS, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02: Alviro Petersen of South Africa bats during day one of the 2nd Investec Test match between England and South Africa at Headingley on August 2, 2012 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

AlviroPetersen says the Proteas are so itching to get stuck in they could start playing the second Test today.

Such has been the satisfactory nature of their preparations that the Proteas scheduled yesterday’s practice as an optional one. This was partly because of the intense 37degC heat in Adelaide and partly because the tourists had two long, hard practices on Sunday and Monday.

As it turned out, almost everyone arrived for yesterday’s practice, with the exception of Jacques Kallis who can surely be trusted to know his own body and his cricketing requirements by now.

Petersen is an attractive opening batsman, but he offered the deadest of bats to most of the questions at his press conference yesterday. The Lions skipper only got vaguely interested when he was asked about the Aussie “verbals”, an almost daily provocation which is faithfully reproduced by the Australian press.

Having listened to the latest claims by Peter Siddle that he felt the South African batsmen were being “distracted” by all the talk in the middle and from his fast-bowling partner James Pattinson that the Aussies had “outbowled” them in Brisbane, Petersen was less than impressed.

“Cricket is a game that is played on a pitch. When you say stuff off it you must always back it up on the pitch. If that’s the Australian strategy, so be it. In fact, I didn’t see any of our batsmen getting distracted at the Gabba. Anyway, it’s nice to get some verbals from time to time, it turns you on.”

Cheap talk aside, tomorrow’s Test is obviously a crucial one. Whoever wins it can’t lose the series. Speaking yesterday, Australia’s great batsman, Ricky Ponting, said he understood that a little more grass than usual would be left on the surface of what is generally regarded as a fabulous pitch for batting, at least for the first three and a half days.

“It should ensure that the pace and carry is good,” Ponting said.

The pitch here is naturally a topic of debate, particularly as the South African pace trio of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander have never played a Test here. The South Africans misjudged the Gabba pitch and played five pacemen, a decision that surprised former South Africa and Warriors cricketer Johan Botha who is here on a two-year contract as the captain of the South Australia Redbacks.

“We played one Shield (four-day) match here against the Brisbane Bulls on what I consider to be a true Adelaide pitch. Each of the teams scored 400-odd in their first innings, then we made 250 and had them 150/6 at the end of the game” said Botha.