Hamilton - The Proteas intensified their preparation for their opening match of the Cricket World Cup against Zimbabwe with a thorough training session at Seddon Park in Hamilton on Friday.
The Proteas spent nearly four hours honing their skills with bat and ball in comfortable and warmer conditions compared to Christchurch, and seemed determined to leave no area unattended in preparation for Sunday’s match.
Bowling coach, Allan Donald, says the excitement is building around the team as the opening match draws closer and the intensity in preparation takes a shift.
“I remember getting on the bus at Christchurch and AB (De Villiers) just said ‘now is the time to lock in’,” he said. “Everyone is excited, especially arriving at the ground for this training session today. We know it is right on the doorstep now and we are very eager to get on with it.”
The Proteas are wary of the unpredictable nature of the Zimbabwean side, but carry good confidence and insight following their successful tour across the border in August.
“We did some homework, had good meetings over the last couple of days, especially this morning strategising around that,” said Donald. “That was a good little exercise in Zimbabwe; we know we are going to face a lot of spin, they base their cricket around that. They have some dangerous players like Williams and Masakadza to name a few. That’s really what we expect from Zimbabwe, tough and gritty, they find a way. They are a team that never sort of goes away.”
Donald says the bowlers will need to strike early up front in the PowerPlay overs, particularly in Hamilton which has small boundaries and high second innings scores.
“This ground in particular is very small,” he explained. “A lot of sides have won here chasing quite comfortably. That is why we have the emphasis on the first 10 overs. We have to hit Zimbabwe hard if we bowl second.”
Farhaan Behardien remains the only injury concern for the squad following a tight lower back injury sustained earlier in the week. He batted unrestricted on Friday but remains symptomatic whilst bowling. He will be monitored and treated, with a final call on his availability set to be made closer to the match.
South Africa Cricket World Cup itinerary:
February 15 - South Africa v Zimbabwe, Seddon Park, Hamilton (03:00 SA time)
February 22 - India v South Africa, Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne (05:30 SA time)
February 27 - South Africa v West Indies, Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney (05:30 SA time)
March 3 - Ireland v South Africa, Manuka Oval, Canberra (05:30 SA time)
March 7 - Pakistan v South Africa, Eden Park, Auckland (03:00 SA time)
March 12 - South Africa v United Arab Emirates, Westpac Stadium, Wellington (03:00 SA time)