Cricket World Cup 2011
Smith expects calmness
Graeme Smith (File)
Mirpur - Steady, rather than spectacular.
That is what South African captain Graeme Smith expects from his team when they come up against New Zealand in their World Cup quarter-final on Friday.
“Up until now each one of the guys has contributed very well and seen that the pieces of the jigsaw fit perfectly,” Smith said on Thursday.
“It’s important that we keep on being as calculated and calm as we were in the group matches. Nobody has to do anything flashy now.”
Smith believes the fight for a place in the semi-finals would already have started around the selectors’ table - long before the South Africans walk onto the field at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium.
With the Pakistani spinners having wreaked havoc in the first quarter-final against the West Indies on the same pitch, the selectors are likely to debate the make-up of the team until Friday morning.
South Africa may decide to use all three spinners after Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Hafeez took eight of the Windies’ wickets in the islanders’ disastrous innings of 112.
In such an event there will be space for only six specialist batsmen, with AB de Villiers set to be used as a wicketkeeper.
De Villiers, who is South Africa’s leading run-scorer at the tournament, handed the gloves to Morné van Wyk early in the tournament after exacerbating a back injury.
If the Proteas management do not want to risk him, Van Wyk will keep his place and one of Robin Peterson, Imran Tahir and Johan Botha will carry drinks.
Botha is the likely victim. While the vice-captain has hardly put a foot wrong, he has only been able to take two wickets against the 14 of Peterson and 12 of Tahir.
“It’s never easy to pick a team, but it can become a nightmare when everybody plays so well. But it’s a good position to be in because we know that every player will do his bit,” said Smith.
“Imran is a major asset for us and undoubtedly our most attacking spinner. And, even though Robbie has been part of the team for a very long time, the confidence we placed in him has done wonders for him over the last six months.”
Smith believes that the two can play an important role against a New Zealand batting line-up that at times in the tournament has looked extremely suspect against spin bowling.
“Their ability to take wickets in the middle of opponents’ innings’ has been one of our strengths to date,” he said.
“We’re not used to spinners playing such an important part in South Africa and that is why it’s fantastic that they can come here and show what they can do.”
The Kiwis have been boosted with the news that captain Daniel Vettori will be fit for the game.
“We have not had a great tournament, but any game against South Africa is a big one for us,” said Vettori.
“If each one of the batsmen in our top five can do their bit, and we are disciplined with the ball and in the field, we will have a good chance.”