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LONDON - South Africa coach Mickey Arthur cannot wait for his side's Test series against England to get under way at Lord's and start what he hopes will be an historic campaign.
Thursday, weather permitting, should see the start of a four-Test contest with South Africa bidding for their first series win in England since their return from isolation.
Five years ago, on their last visit to England, South Africa were 2-1 up heading into the final match of the series only for England to win by nine wickets at The Oval.
In 1994 the series in England between the two sides ended all square while in 1998 England, after a poor start, emerged as 2-1 winners.
It all added to the impression, reinforced by their dramatic exit in the 1999 World Cup, on a tie against eventual winners Australia, that South Africa were "chokers".
But Lord's, where in the corresponding Test in 2003 captain Graeme Smith scored a double century during a crushing innings win, has proved a happy hunting ground for South Africa on their recent visits.
Now, boasting an impressive pace attack led by the in-form Dale Steyn, hopes are high among the tourists that they can become the first South African side since 1965 to win a series in England when batting great Graeme Pollock's masterful hundred at Trent Bridge set up a 1-0 triumph.
Arthur said: "There is a special buzz. This is one of the tours we've been talking about as a group ever since the planning started two years ago."
An excited Arthur said all members of his team had had sufficient preparation.
"I'm pretty sure we've done the work we need to have done - and I'm confident we're right now. You can feel in the dressing room the boys are ready for the Test and just want to get cracking in the series now.
"We're counting down the hours; I wish it was starting in two days' time - that is how ready I feel we are as a group.
"Each day is delaying it. We just want to start playing now and get our teeth into the series." - Sapa-AFP