Former cricket captain Graeme Smith has said that he is "nervous" about the Proteas' upcoming "tough" tour of India, starting with the first Test in Mohali on November 5.
"I'm a bit nervous. It's a tough tour for us and this is a big season for South African cricket with the Indian tour and the English tour later this year. This could be the defining period for this team," Smith was quoted as saying by The Times here.
"Four Test matches in India are not going to be easy, especially because it involves a lot of travelling, a lot of people and the conditions are going to spin.
"I'm holding thumbs that everything will go well. If we have a good Indian tour, I think we'll then do very well against the English," said Smith, who led South Africa to two series draws against India in 2008 and 2009," he added.
Smith said the Proteas, who have not lost a Test series away since 2006, had no option but to seek retention of the mace presented by the ICC.
"Our record of not losing a Test series away from home since 2006 has been incredible. Hopefully these guys will keep going and keep doing us proud," Smith said as he offered some advice to the members of the squad in the three formats of the game that were announced by cricket South Africa yesterday.
He directed a comment particularly to Quinton de Kock, who was earlier relegated from the national squad and sent to India with the national A side to hone his skills.
After scoring centuries in three consecutive innings against the India A side, De Kock impressed the selectors enough for him to be included in both the national One Day and T20 squads for the India tour.
"It's all about building character. If you're going to have a long career playing at the top of the game, you're going to be able to deal with failure and how to bounce back from disappointment," Smith said.