Cricket World Cup: Confidence abounds for well-balanced South Africa
South Africa`s reputation as cricketing `chokers` has become a dressing room joke, they say, and there has been nothing spluttering about their build-up as they head to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in confident mood.
Cape Town: South Africa`s reputation as cricketing `chokers` has become a dressing room joke, they say, and there has been nothing spluttering about their build-up as they head to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in confident mood.
It is true that the Proteas have found novel ways of exiting previous tournaments, from miss-reading the Duckworth/Lewis permutations to disastrous run-outs and spectacular batting collapses.
But the retirement of stalwarts such as Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher mean they now boast a squad of players no longer carrying that baggage.
"We`ve got the right players to win the World Cup. It`s just now a matter of going there and finding a way to do so," a confident captain AB De Villiers, who smashed the fastest century in ODIs off 31 balls against West Indies in January, told reporters.
"That`s always the difficult part, but we`re prepared to put in the hard yards. We are going there to bring the cup back."
The Class of 2015 looks a formidable unit with good balance and fringe players who have performed well this season, providing strength in depth as they head into conditions that should be much to their liking.
With either opener Quinton de Kock or De Villiers to keep wicket, it gives them the option to play an extra batsman and provides for a solid top seven.
They have three of the best seam bowlers in the world in Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander, as well as a fine leg-spin option, in the 50-over format at least, in Imran Tahir.
The concerns for the side lie in two areas, notably their `death` bowling at the end of the innings. Bowling coach Allan Donald, who played in four World Cups, says the key will be to mix it up.
"We`ve spoken about the last 10 overs of bowling, we know what we have to do," he said. "We want to be unpredictable and that is not going to be about bowling 40 yorkers in the last 10 overs."
They have also been criticised for not having enough big hitters in the side to clear the boundary in the final few overs when batting.
For all the optimism, De Villiers does admit that the weight of expectation is an element to be reckoned with.
"We do feel pressure representing South Africa in the World Cup, we haven`t won one yet," he said. "We desperately want to win one. We`ve been playing some good cricket and we`re confident going to Australia that we have a really good chance to win this World Cup."
South Africa are in group B with Zimbabwe, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates.