England in SA
Johann de Jager
A hot reception for Strauss?
Bloemfontein – The England cricket team has closed ranks around skipper Andrew Strauss on the eve of their Pro20 internationals against the Proteas.
This development comes after Strauss again found himself in the firing line this week for his refusal to agree to a runner for his South African counterpart, Graeme Smith, in the recent clash between the sides in the Champions Trophy tournament.
Smith, who fought a lone battle to no avail with 141 runs, asked for a runner after struggling with cramp.
The South African captain warned on Wednesday that Strauss can expect a hot reception when the first Twenty20 clash is played in Johannesburg next Friday.
English all-rounder Luke Wright said that the visitors would not pay any attention to the latest shots fired in the psychological war.
“We concentrate on our preparation rather than take notice of that,” Wright told Sport24.
“There is always needle between top cricketing nations, whether the incident will be an issue or not. South Africa are always in your face and it’s going to be a heck of a series.”
While the 24-year-old all-rounder has already been earmarked to fill the big shoes of Andrew Flintoff, it is the Proteas’ Jacques Kallis that he looks up to.
“Flintoff and I don’t have much in common. He is more than six feet tall and bowls at 145km/h, while I’m shorter and cannot nearly generate that pace,” said Wright.
“Kallis is probably one of the great all-rounders – someone to whom everybody looks up.
“He has performed well for South Africa over the years and is still doing it. As a young player you strive to be like him. Hopefully I can achieve what he has.”
While he views the Proteas as the favourites, he believes South Africa can potentially come off second best over the next 12 weeks.
“South Africa are the top team in the word with obvious strengths,” said Wright, who is also set for his test debut next month.
“They are also a good fielding side, have a good batting line-up and fantastic bowlers. But if we play the way we know we can, they can be beaten, as they were in the Champions Trophy.”
England reached the semifinal stage of the tournament after beating the Proteas by 22 runs.
However, the English lost the game against arch-rivals Australia, something they are still struggling to come to terms with.
“We probably surprised people by progressing that far in the tournament. We now have to try and build on that. We have an excellent chance if our preparation goes according to plan.”
English talisman and star batsman Kevin Pietersen will arrive in South Africa on Tuesday. He has just recovered from a persistent heel injury and will therefore miss the touring team’s first warm-up game against the Eagles on Friday.