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South Africa's reputation as one of the leading Test nations will be at stake when they try to stop England from clinching a series win in the fourth and final Test starting at the Wanderers Stadium today.
After away series wins against both Australia and England in 2008, South Africa briefly topped the International Cricket Council's Test rankings, but they suffered a home series defeat against the Baggy Greens last year and now trail the current series 1-0.
England won the second Test in Durban by an innings and 98 runs, although in both the first and third Tests the tourists had narrow escapes, hanging on with nine wickets down in the final innings.
South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis admitted it has been frustrating because his side felt they were the better team, but said the hosts had only themselves to blame for being in a must-win situation.
"[England] haven't given up," said Kallis. "They've been in tough situations in two games where they've been able to get their way out of it.
"That shows a lot of fight and character. Unfortunately in Durban we were in England's situation and we crumbled. As much as we can say we were unlucky, we were in the same situation and we failed," he added.
Kallis hoped the conditions at the Wanderers would favour South Africa, although he feels the pitch might not be as lively as some pundits expected.
"I've had a look at it and it's not as green as I have seen here before," he said. "I don't think it's going to be as bad as people think, although it's going to do a bit and you will need skill to get through it.
"Our guys are used to playing on wickets with a bit of bounce and where it goes around a bit, probably a bit more than the England lads are. Hopefully that plays in our favour."
England took two days off at a luxury resort after their Cape Town escape, but Paul Collingwood, who played crucial rearguard innings in both draws – as well as making 91 to help set up the Durban win – revealed England are determined to produce one more big performance.
"The past two days in training, we've shown a lot of energy," said Collingwood. "This week means a lot to us. It was nice to have a couple of days break, but we have to come out and play.
"We can't sit back and rely on this position. It's a huge week for us. We want to go away winning the series."
Collingwood also insisted the tourists would be buoyed by the spirit they had shown in the two drawn Tests.
"To have this kind of resilience when you're under the pump is a great strength to have in a team," he said. "You need your flair, your bits of genius, but we've shown in the past six months we've got it in the locker if we need it."
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