GRAEME SMITH came perilously close to accusing England's four South African-born players of being too keen on "fancy glasses and flashy cars" before tomorrow's massive third One-Day International at Newlands.
The no-nonsense Proteas captain (pictured), possibly in shock at finding himself 1-0 down in the series with three to play, said: "Look, for me I always had a dream of playing for South Africa and it has worked out. I think it's a good job now, being a cricketer for your country. I feel playing for South Africa has brought a nation together, it's carried the nation.
"The only thing we need to work on is the value of the Rand!"
And turning to those like Andrew Strauss, Matt Prior, Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott who were born in South Africa but chose to pursue a career with England, he said: "There are some players not ready to just do the work, to wait for it to happen like I did.
"It's more about the financial rewards. Some players want the fancy glasses, the fancy cars."
But he insisted the drain of talent is coming to an end, adding: "What's really encouraging is we've seen lately a lot of players are coming back into our system from the County game where they were Kolpak players, it's encouraging from out perspective."
Though Smith's comments were not directly aimed at the quartet of expats, there's no doubt the South Africans will be keeping an extra-close eye on their former countrymen over the next two months.
With the four-Test series starting on December 16, this One-Day war is seen as vital for momentum after England were highly fortunate to grab a 1-1 draw in the Twenty20 showdowns. South Africa have a great record in Cape Town, but the side batting first has won 20 of the last 25 ODIs in the shadow of Table Mountain.
The good news for England is that injured Nottinghamshire pair Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann may both be back for Newlands tomorrow.
Last Sunday at Centurion, rampant England might have had just two weak links - inconsistent seamer Sajit Mahmood and woefully out-of-form spinner Adil Rashid. Broad and Swann will slot in easily to strengthen the attack - and both can bat a bit too.
A stronger, fitter England will worry the South Africas with captain Andrew Strauss saying: "Broadie looks 100 percent now after the shoulder injury and it will be great to have him back.
"Swannie bowled for the first time in the nets, so he may be ready too. To be honest he's been a pain in the dressing-room. Too much energy! It would be great to have him back too.
"There is a long-term plan in improving our one-day cricket - and these sorts of games are the ones that can really take us forward
"We've said in the past we've always responded well to defeat, but we have not been quite so great on building on a good performance. We're going to try to put ourselves under a bit of pressure this game to make sure we build on that."
The only bad news on the England front? Former coach and Sky commentator David "Bumble" Lloyd, clearly a Lancastrian as opposed to archetypal Yorkshireman Geoffrey Boycott, complains on Twitter: "Mortified..bloke just come up and said ,“ Hi, Geoffrey." Ouch.