Cricket World Cup 2011

Smith wary of England backlash

2011-03-05 12:05
Graeme Smith (Gallo Images)

Chennai - South African captain Graeme Smith said he expected to face a fired-up England following their humiliation by Ireland, when the Test rivals met in a World Cup match on Sunday.

Gallery: Proteas at airport security

Andrew Strauss's team were victims of one of the greatest upsets in World Cup history when Ireland, inspired by Kevin O'Brien's record-breaking 50-ball century, chased down a 328-run winning target in Bangalore on Wednesday.

It was a victory that threw the race for quarter-final places from Group B wide open.

England have a win, one defeat, as well as their memorable tie against India from their three matches while South Africa have two wins in two games after comfortable victories over West Indies and the Netherlands.

However, England have a good recent record against the Proteas, winning seven out of their past eight completed one-day internationals against South Africa.

"I think England-South Africa's always a big game," Smith told reporters at the Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Saturday.

"It's very competitive and it's a game you look forward to."

As for England's response after the Ireland loss, Smith said: "They are a very proud team and have had some good ups over the last few years.

"They have the ability to play really well tomorrow and as a team we know that. We expect them to bounce back.

"The Ireland result will have hit them. It was terrific for the World Cup to watch them (Ireland) get the victory. Tomorrow will be a very different game."

England off-spinner Graeme Swann urged his team-mates to hold their nerve.

"If we start panicking and thinking we're the disgrace that half the people on Twitter thought we were on Wednesday night, there's no point in us playing," he said.

"But to win three-quarters of the game (against Ireland) and throw it away so catastrophically, that's the sort of thing that can ruin momentum."

It is in the field where England have problems.

They went into the Ireland match keeping faith with senior seamer James Anderson and fit-again Stuart Broad in place of Ajmal Shahzad.

They persisted with Anderson despite the fact the swing specialist had conceded 91 runs against India -- the most by an England bowler in a World Cup match.

It seemed their faith was being rewarded with a tight early spell but Anderson ended up conceding 49 runs in 8.1 overs.

Those figures were miserly compared with Broad's none for 73 and with South Africa boasting the world's two leading ODI batsmen in Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers, England face a dilemma over the composition of their attack.

Amla and De Villiers both made hundreds Thursday in a crushing 231-run win over the Netherlands, with de Villiers's ton his second in as many matches following his hundred against the West Indies.

Smith said de Villiers had overcome a minor back injury.

Previous campaigns have often seen the Proteas accused of choking but, with the exception of all-rounder Jacques Kallis, few of the current squad have much in the way of a lengthy World Cup history behind them.

Significantly, an attack once over-reliant on fast bowling has been boosted by the inclusion of Pakistan-born leg-spinner Imran Tahir and he could have an important role to play on a Chidambaram pitch set to take turn.


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