Colin Bryden

Donald set to fire up bowlers

2012-07-04 09:02
Sport24 columnist Colin Bryden (File)
Team bonding in the crisp mountain air of Switzerland is all very well but a piece of old-fashioned sports psychology may yet prove to be a trump card when the South African cricket team eventually arrive in England later this week.

GALLERY: Proteas in Switzerland

Allan Donald, the South African bowling coach, is sure to fire up his charges for the three-Test series against the world’s number one ranked team by quoting the words of his England counterpart, David Saker.

I sat next to Donald at the Cricket SA awards dinner last month and the fast bowling great was sounding off, with a mixture of scorn and glee, about Saker’s claim that England’s attack bears comparison with the best of all time.

A week or two earlier, Saker had rated the quartet of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann as being in the same league as the Australian attack, spearheaded by Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, which dominated world cricket for the better part of a decade.

Not surprisingly, Donald believes South Africa have some pretty handy ammunition themselves in the form of Dale Steyn, Morné Morkel, Vernon Philander and Imran Tahir.

Seizing on opposition comments is a ruse as old as sport itself and Donald won’t allow such a juicy motivational tool to slip by.

Unfortunately, though, top-level sport is not decided in a team room. The biggest challenge for the Proteas will be to get battle-ready in time for the first Test starting at the Oval on July 19.

They only have a two-day match against Somerset and a three-day game against Kent, as well as a few days of nets, to prepare for the showdown between the top two Test nations.

While the South Africans are coming out of a break which is lengthy by modern standards, England have honed their skills with a series win against the West Indies, while many of their leading players are involved in a one-day series against Australia.

Head coach Gary Kirsten may believe that warm-up matches are over-rated but South Africa are cutting it fine in terms of preparation, especially if the current unsettled weather in England continues for the next two weeks.

Colin Bryden will be covering the England-South Africa series. He has reported on all four of South Africa’s previous tours of England since 1994.

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