Apart from the normal challenge of trying to win a showdown at Newlands between two of cricket's top teams, both skippers will be seeking to end a run of poor personal form with the bat. (Agencies)
However, both will be facing bowlers who have been a nemesis during their careers.
Smith has had scores of 10, 4, 9 and 14 in the first two Tests, while Clarke has made 23, 17 not out, 19 and 1.
Smith has been out three times to in-form left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, who has now dismissed him eight times in 10 Tests. No bowler has claimed his wicket more often in Tests, although Chris Martin of New Zealand also got him out eight times in 11 matches.
On the other side, Clarke has fallen twice to world’s number one Test bowler Dale Steyn, taking his number of dismissals against South Africa's fast bowling kingpin to nine in 13 Tests, equal with Englishmen James Anderson (23 Tests) and Stuart Broad (17 Tests).
Ignoring their recent batting struggles, both captains have rejected concerns about their form.
Smith points out that he scored a double century against Pakistan five Tests ago and that he has had success as well as failures against Johnson.
“I've faced Mitchell a lot of times -- times where he's had the better of me and times where I have had the better of him," Smith said before South Africa squared the series by winning the second Test in Port Elizabeth.
Clarke's highest score in 11 Test innings since he made 148 against England in the second Ashes Test in Adelaide has been 24. In four one-day innings against England, he had a best of 43.
When asked about his recent form after the second Test, Clarke said, "Obviously I would like to score a hundred every time I bat. I have been here before. In this game you have some great times. I remember those fondly and I said at the time, ‘its swings and roundabouts, there are tough times, so make sure you remember the good times',” he added.
Apart from the normal challenge of trying to win a showdown at Newlands between two of cricket's top teams, both skippers will be seeking to end a run of poor personal form with the bat.