Proteas looking for answers
Graeme Smith (Gallo Images)
Johann de Jager
Bloemfontein – Zimbabwe think they have a chance. Pakistan’s spin bowlers are waiting in the desert. And India say they no longer fear South Africa’s batting wickets.
Those are among the challenges that await the South African cricket team in their march to the World Cup on the sub-continent at the end of the season.
Proteas captain Graeme Smith said that the key for the team over the next few months would be to find the right combinations – and to let the players play with confidence and commitment after that.
The Proteas play Zimbabwe in the first of three one-day matches on Friday.
South Africa’s neighbours gave them a good fright in their last Twenty20 match.
The visitors believe they can spring a surprise as the home team are without top players Dale Steyn, Jacques Kallis and Morné Morkel.
Smith said that the absence of key players now offers a younger generation of bowlers such as Wayne Parnell, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Rusty Theron the chance to stake their claim.
“It is a great opportunity for Wayne, who was injured for a long time, to get back on track.”
The South African bowlers will be looking for an improved performance after they disappointed in the two Twenty20 games.
Smith says they are hoping to find answers over the course of the next eight games. They will embark on a tour of the United Arab Emirates before the end of the month for five one-day games.
Pakistan believe they have the spin bowlers to beat South Africa and it should be a test for the South African batsmen.
South Africa will play host for India on their return from Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
“We hope to have answers to our questions by then,” said Smith.
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was full of bravado after the Chennai Super Kings won the Champions League at the Wanderers.
He said they would no longer have sleepless nights about the South African wickets after all the experience they gained here.
However, Smith warned that a Proteas team would be a different kettle of fish than an IPL or local franchise.
He said that a tough one-day series against India in January would be good preparation with the World Cup just around the corner. After their five matches, the two teams will return to the sub-continent for the World Cup warm-ups.
South Africa will play Zimbabwe again before the tournament, while a warm-up against Australia will also provide a glimpse of their form before the tournament.The teams are:South Africa (from):
Graeme Smith (captain), Hashim Amla, Colin Ingram, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, David Miller, Johan Botha, Robin Peterson, Albie Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Charl Langeveldt, Rusty Theron, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.Zimbabwe (from):
Elton Chigumbura (captain), Chamu Chibhabha, Grant Flower, Graeme Cremer, Keith Dabengwa, Craig Ervine, Hamilton Masakadza, Tatenda Taibu, Chris Mpofu, Ian Nicolson, Shingirai Masakadza, Ed Rainsford, Brendan Taylor, Prosper Utseya, Sean Williams.