CAPE TOWN, March 20 (Reuters) - Ashwell Prince shrugged off his concern at being forced to open for South Africa by hitting 150 in the third and final test against Australia on Friday.
The selectors pressed him to open in the absence of anyone else willing to do the job and, although the gamble paid off, Prince said he would have preferred to bat in his usual middle-order role.
“I’ve made peace with it,” he told reporters. “I would have liked to have batted in the middle-order but those are the cards I’ve been dealt and I don’t want to talk about batting in the middle-order any more.
“I am delighted to be back in the team and I will do the best I can in my new role,” said the recalled Prince after helping South Africa reach 404 for three on the second day, a lead of 195 runs.
Jacques Kallis was still there at the close, unbeaten on 102.
Prince broke his thumb in December and has returned to the side in Cape Town in place of injured captain Graeme Smith.
“We still have seven wickets in hand, which is important because days two and three are generally the best to bat on at Newlands,” said the makeshift opener.
“The pitch should still be good for batting tomorrow and we will try to make as many as we can.”
Coach Tim Nielsen said Australia were left deflated after a frustrating day.
“Not many people are bouncing around the changing room and it’s the first time this young bowling attack has had to struggle through a long, hard day of test cricket,” said Nielsen.
“It’s been a very tough day but it will be character building.
“South Africa have lifted their game (after losing the first two tests) and haven’t let us play as well as we would have liked although the boys tried very well.”
Debutant leg-spinner Bryce McGain bore the brunt of the South African onslaught and was battered for 102 runs in 11 overs.
“Bryce has a bit of learning to do but hopefully he won’t be scared of the challenge tomorrow and will bowl a lot of overs in the first session,” said Nielsen.
“What’s killing him is he doesn’t feel he bowled as well as he could have.”
Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Tony Jimenez