Sydney: South African captain Graeme Smith said on Monday he was taking strength from his team's historic win in Australia's home series four years ago, as he prepares for the next "knife edge" contest.

The South Africans arrived in Sydney on Sunday aiming to consolidate their position as the world's top Test team, which was earned mid-year with a series triumph in England.

"We understand that this is a big challenge for us, coming to Australia again and to win," Smith said.

But the skipper, who won the respect of Australian fans when he came out to bat in the third Test of the 2008-2009 series with a broken finger and a painful elbow injury, said the Proteas had thrived on that series.

"To beat Australia in those stadiums and in those environments was something I don't think South Africans had dreamt of in a very long time," he told journalists.

"We certainly took a lot out of that. Probably took us a little bit of time for us to recover from those highs.

"But since that return leg from Australia, we've been pretty steady and consistent in our performances and maybe that was the stepping stone to a lot of the success that we've had."

South Africa, which won the 2008-2009 three Test series 2-1, will play a three-day match against Australia A in Sydney starting Friday, before the first Test in Brisbane on November 9.

"Every Australia-South Africa Test matches are on knife edges, so you can't afford to relax," Smith said.

"Obviously winning here four years ago certainly helps in the self-belief factor, knowing that you've overcome a hurdle before.

"Winning in someone else's backyard, it's a tough thing to do and that challenge is something that excites us."

Coach Gary Kirsten said the Australian squad held some "good experience and quality players".

But he added: "We know if we get our processes right in those crucial times in the Test series, we'll be a difficult team to beat."


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