JOHANNESBURG, Mar 30 (Reuters) Coach Mickey Arthur believes South Africa have learned hard lessons from test defeats by Australia which will stand them in good stead for the series against New Zealand in April and May.
''As these guys have been playing five tests against the top side in world cricket, they've been learning a great deal,'' Arthur told reporters today.
''It will stand these players in really good stead and I believe we will get the benefits down the line.
''We're looking for stability and this is a young side that we can run with. They're a couple of years off Australia, but they're on the right track.
''The inconsistency comes in when you're playing a champion side that handles pressure so well. The constant pressure that Australia puts you under wears you down.
''It's like a golfer playing Tiger Woods in matchplay on a Friday, then having to do it again on Sunday and then getting up on Wednesday and Friday morning and do it all again,'' he said.
Australia won the first two tests of the series to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series after winning a home three-test series 2-0 earlier in the season.
The third test starts in Johannesburg tomorrow.
''We're obviously disappointed with our results, but a lot of positives have come out of these tests,'' Arthur said.
''I don't believe the results have been a true reflection of how we've competed at stages. Australia have just played the pressure situations much better.
''New Zealand loom large and we've got four tests left this summer. We'd like to win at least three of those and New Zealand are one ahead of us on the rankings, so it's a chance for us to move up those rankings.
''We want to get some momentum going in this last game against Australia,'' Arthur told reporters.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting said he did not foresee any changes to his team and disagreed with Arthur's summary of South Africa's performance.
''South Africa haven't deserved to win a test, but we still have a bit to prove.
''The pitch has a bit of grass on it as expected and I wouldn't imagine there'll be any changes to our team.
''I've been pretty satisfied with the cricket we've played and since we've come back from the Ashes, everything has pretty much fallen into place.
''We definitely have the nucleus of the side for the next Ashes.'' Australia were beaten 2-1 by England in the 2005 Ashes series and they play host to England in a five-test series from November to January 2007.
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