Rudolph revels in Headlingley return
Jacques Rudolph is hoping to make the most of local knowledge in the second Investec Test at Headingley Carnegie.
South Africa’s number six spent five seasons as a Yorkshire batsman, before resuming a Test career which had already included a 2003 victory at this same venue.
After not being required to bat as England suffered an innings defeat at the Kia Oval, Rudolph is looking forward to making a big impression on familiar turf.
"I had five very good years here, and I've some fond memories of playing with some really good people," he said.
"It's really nice to be back here. I share a lot of sentiment in this place."
Rudolph acknowledges he owes much to Yorkshire too, for helping him make the most of his potential.
"At the time when I decided to come over here, I was at a bit of a tough place in my career and needed to rediscover my love for the game," said the 31-year-old left-hander.
"The opportunity was given to me by Yorkshire, and it was five of the most memorable years in my career so far.
"I got thrown into international cricket at a really young age and didn't really always know how to cope with it. In these surroundings, I learned about myself and became more mature as a batsman."
Rudolph will tell his team-mates, several of whom will be aware in any case after figuring in at least one of South Africa's two successive Test wins here, not to get carried away with Leeds' reputation for seam and swing.
"There is a perception that Headingley can be a bowlers' venue. But as a batsman, when you get yourself in on this wicket you can go big," he added.
"The last time we played here, AB (de Villiers) and Ashwell (Prince) did really well."
Back to the present, Rudolph knows South Africa will be wise to be wary of an England fightback, as the hosts aim to keep hold of top spot in the International Cricket Council Test rankings.
"Our challenge will be to get off the wave of the first Test match, from a mental point of view," he said.
As for a knack England have often displayed, of hitting back well after defeat, Rudolph added: "It's definitely not an accident."They are obviously the number one team in the world, and we expect quite a strong fightback from them.
"They've done really well in their own conditions over the last couple of years, so we're prepared for what we're going to face on Thursday."
South Africa captain Smith returned to practice this morning, following his week-long return to Cape Town to witness the birth of his first child.
Rudolph said: "He's had a nice couple of weeks."He's on a bit of a high, and I think his family's coming over soon - so that will be good for him."
Although Smith is available as expected, South Africa will be unable to call upon Albie Morkel.
The 31-year-old, who was called into the Proteas squad as a replacement for the injured Marchant de Lange, has an ankle problem.
Former Lancashire all-rounder Francois du Plessis has therefore been called up as cover by the tourists.