SA's Cup plans 'unaltered'
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – The Proteas’ planning for the next World Cup in early 2011 has not been thrown into disarray by sub-standard ODI performances in recent weeks.
That is the firm view of coach Mickey Arthur, speaking ahead of the third fixture in the MTN series against England at Newlands on Friday.
South Africa trail 1-0 with one washout, and are under additional pressure because of their disappointing “one win in three” effort at the ICC Champions Trophy in the spring.
But Arthur insists that there is “no major rethinking” despite the outlook for the Subcontinent tournament, ironically, actually appearing to look more bullish from a Proteas perspective almost a year ago.
Instead the national team have slipped two notches to third in the official one-day international rankings.
“I know exactly where we’re going and where our plans are,” Arthur said. “Graeme (Smith) and I are exactly on the same page. We know the personnel we’d like to employ.
“At the end of the day the guys need to get out there and do the (business). By the end of this series it will be clearer whether the players we want to use are the right ones --I’m confident it will be so.
“Down to 19 players, I could virtually give you the 15 for the World Cup. We’ll be basically choosing 15 from 19 so we’re still pretty clear.
“Maybe our executions on flat wickets as bowlers is something we need to (improve) and I’m just a bit worried about our younger batsmen going on to hit big scores when set, but that is something we’ll keep chatting about and they’ve got a year to set that right.
“In my mind I’m still in a fairly good place (World Cup-wise).”
Asked by Sport24 whether the Proteas were simply extending their peculiar habit of warming slowly to domestic summers – whether at ODI or Test level – Arthur said: “We can’t use that an excuse. We’ve got to hit our straps from the outset and that’s something we’ve spoken about a lot and worked on.
“I pretty much know where we’re at as a team and I conveyed that in some strong words on Sunday night. It’s up to the players to see how they react now, and I’m pretty sure they’ll react positively come Friday.”
He said he was pleased gate prospects for the remainder of the five-match ODI series looked rosier than they had been on the Highveld, for the Standard Bank Pro20 internationals and first two ODIs.
Had the players been disappointed by the attendances thus far?
“I think we’ve been too busy focussing on our own game, really. It is disappointing when you don’t play to full houses. We’ve played to full gates around this time, every year.
“I do think there’s been an overkill of cricket up on the Highveld of late. Perhaps if the Pro20 games had come to Durban to Cape Town we’d have had capacity crowds – I would have thought so.
“Remember that the back end of the Indian Premier League was around Johannesburg (last autumn), and they’d no sooner watched a couple of big rugby games on the Highveld (Arthur presumably meant matches like two British and Irish Lions Tests) before the Champions Trophy came too.
“And we’ve played three international fixtures in two weeks at Centurion … two in a week were also scheduled for the Wanderers. I just think it’s been overkill.
“I know Newlands will be sold out, and I’ve already heard that Durban is sold out and Port Elizabeth will be likewise on Sunday. So I think we’ll get back to the crowds we’re used to.”