News24

Van Wyk selection explained

2011-03-05 15:33

Mumbai - Although weather conditions were not Arctic in Mohali when South Africa played the Netherlands, they were enough to send a chill wind through the team management, leading to their surprise selection of Morne van Wyk as an extra batsman.

Conditions were decidedly English-like, with overnight rain, morning cloud, little patches of sunshine, and wind. And captain Graeme Smith has revealed that they were the prime motivation for strengthening the batting at the expense of off-spinner Johan Botha.

"It was cool weather, there'd been rain overnight. The pitch was very cold and there was always something in it for the bowlers. So our selection was based around just bringing in the extra batsman really, because we felt that would be of more benefit with the ball going around a bit in the morning.

"The unfortunate bowler was Botha because we felt we wanted spinners who turn the ball away from the bat and the Netherlands don't have any left-handed batsmen," Smith explained.

Leaving vice-captain Botha out, after his two key wickets against the West Indies, was surprising enough, but it was extremely odd that Lonwabo Tsotsobe, in such excellent form in limited-overs cricket, was once again excluded.

The left-arm paceman would have revelled in the conditions and the feeling is growing that the South African camp could well be hiding him, much as they did with Imran Tahir against India.

Tahir had another very good outing against the Dutch, quickly wrapping up the innings with three for 11 in 3.5 overs and Smith confirmed he would be looking to either Dale Steyn or Tahir to deal with tailenders.

"It's terrific to have wrist-spin or pace available to clean up the tail," Smith grinned.

Given how tricky conditions were for batting in the morning, South Africa did very well to reach 351 for five.

"We knew we had to get the basics right and AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla were able to build a terrific partnership. They also maintained the boundaries through the middle period, which was brilliant," Smith said.

JP Duminy's late assault then ensured there was no doubt South Africa would bring home the bacon as the left-hander lashed a dazzling 40 off 15 balls.

"JP was terrific, he played some incredible shots. There were one or two of them that, if I had been able to play them, I would retire right now," Smith said.

While the West Indies and the Netherlands gave South Africa a gentle incline with which to start their World Cup campaign, England on Sunday in Chennai and India in Nagpur next Saturday will be two mountains to climb.

Ireland and Bangladesh are two potential banana skins waiting further along the aisle.

"We've got two big games coming our way and it will be nice to have a bit of a run of games. If we carry on playing well, then we can get our confidence on a roll. But it's a long tournament and you can set yourself back if you start thinking 10 days in advance," the captain said.

Smith said mentally he and the team are in an outstanding place.

"I feel pretty relaxed and there's that same relaxed feeling throughout the whole group. There's good energy around the group."

Which is excellent news as the South Africans deal with the ever-increasing weight of expectation.

SuperSport

Comments
  • Sipho - 2011-03-05 15:58

    Smith would you really do this?: "JP was terrific, he played some incredible shots. There were one or two of them that, if I had been able to play them, I would retire right now," Smith said. Lets all pray he whacks the ball tomorrow and takes Botha away from our ODI team asap. We dont need chokers like Biff and Botha. Get them away from this team once and for all. We need winners, not chokers and below average spin bowlers who cant even bat(hey Botha).

      Brendon - 2011-03-05 16:31

      and below average spin bowlers who cant even bat(hey peterson)

      sannahan - 2011-03-05 16:40

      What is your proof that Botha cannot bat?

      Sipho - 2011-03-05 19:52

      @sannahan. You do have access to the internet. Please read Bothas stats. I am not going to spell out his inadequacy. But averaginng 18 and being a batsman? i seriously think he should be dropped and left out till he can better that average.

      qventer - 2011-03-06 11:55

      Yes botha's stats aren't great, but he is still valuable to us as a vice captain. He is strategically minded and i say he will shut a few critics like us up this world cup if he bats. I remember Botha taking over captaincy from smith when we were playing down under and we managed to walk away winners.

  • Utopian - 2011-03-05 16:41

    The two men who captained our greatest our, victory in Australia, are hardly chokers. Have some respect for people who are able to operate at a level that no other South African activity (except maybe rugby), nor yourself, are able to.

  • Utopian - 2011-03-05 16:42

    The two men who captained our greatest hour, victory in Australia, are hardly chokers. Have some respect for people who are able to operate at a level that no other South African activity (except maybe rugby), nor yourself, are able to.

      Bobby - 2011-03-05 18:43

      *clap* *clap* well done Smith for beating an injury ridden Australia...quick question...how do you do when they returned (with only a few of their injured players back)...it was a 3-0 smack wasn't it?

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