adorned in their new blazers, the Proteas departed for Australasia amidst
stirring fanfare from many well-wishers and, of course, our Minister of Sport.
Mbalula, as enthusiastically as ever, offered some encouragement more akin to a
boxer about to enter the ring for a title fight.
force from the home fans has a way of creating more pressure on all. A World Cup seems to bring out many different
pressures no matter the sport. Perhaps it’s because they don't come around as
often, with expectations intensified during the build-up. Somehow, playing a
normal series just doesn't have the same kind of sting.
Cup is something special. The players feel it, as do the management. And us sitting back at home get so emotional
over the Cup that the subject pervades our every thought. Cricket talk will
certainly engulf boardrooms, golf courses and pubs over the next few weeks, and
even those who aren't normally into cricket become experts.
question which has dominated the build-up so far has centered around a couple
of fringe players selected in the 15-man squad. In the end, Russell Domingo and
his fellow selectors settled with the combination of Farhaan Behardien and
Wayne Parnell. The question I’d ask is: Are they good enough at crunch time if
the number seven spot was hotly contested.
Big Bash League played in the same conditions as the World Cup, I wonder if
there was ever a thought by the selectors to tempt Jacques Kallis out of
international retirement. Could the selection committee not have convinced him,
perhaps for the first time ever, to have played and batted in the position of
the average all-rounder?
walking in to bat at number seven and bowling a handful of overs may well have
proved a masterstroke. However, that is history now and those there need to
accounts, there are almost more members in the Proteas’ management team than in
the actual playing squad, and none will be more important than those tasked
with dealing with injuries.
great teams in history, ‘pillar players’ are vital - keeping them on the field
and in form means so much. Dale Steyn and AB de Villiers, for instance, just
cannot miss a crunch game if the Proteas are to go all the way. In my book,
those two players are irreplaceable and every opposing team knows that too.
In De Villiers,
we certainly possess one of the game’s greatest ever talents. On his day, he
can bat, bowl, keep wicket and field like the best of them.
captain, he will surely feel the weight of past-times more than anyone and my
one concern is that he may try to do too much.
captaincy will in all probability be just as important as the run that he scores.
Clear thinking under pressure is never easy, especially when there is so much
lonely place when things don't work out, and in the past he has often faced the
media and had to remain positive despite a terrible performance. This time around,
I believe he will need to be brutally honest.
covenant that has existed in the Proteas setup since re-admission has always
revolved around hard work. Perhaps it should have been focused on smart work?
I have the feeling that the incumbent Proteas’ management team have started to
recognize that aspect. It entails resting crucial players when necessary and
preparing fringe players adequately in case they are needed at a moment’s
has a real luxury in his management team in the form of ex-national coach Gary
Kirsten. Having won the trophy with India in 2011, I believe my former teammate
will add tremendous value, particularly as the tournament unfolds. Kirsten will
understand the pressure on players having played and coached at a top-level. In
my view, having him on board offers an X-factor which other teams aren’t able
arrives at the World Cup event there is an immediate sense of heightened
anxiety. Suddenly it will dawn on each player that this is the stage that every
cricketer wants to experience in their career. The media focus becomes more
intense and the interaction between the teams seems to change.
and New Zealand as cricketing destinations are steeped in the traditions and
values of the game. Everything will be done ‘just right’. Practice facilities,
hotels, transport arrangements, media liaison managers and medical facilities
and gyms will not be found wanting in any way.
opening ceremony will prove a glamourous affair, and thereafter it will be down
to business. I believe that the warm-up games are never an indication of things
to come and, as such, we must not read too much into them.
internal strategies concerning how the Proteas approach the power-plays, who will
be the boundary-riders on the big fields and who will take the first over with
the new ball have been decided. It’s now about peaking at the right time under
Former South Africa international Pat Symcox
played at the 1996 Cricket World Cup, and is a self-proclaimed cricket fanatic, struggling
golfer and addicted writer.
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