Proteas geared up for tight contest

FAST RUNNING: Dale Steyn during the ICC Cricket World Cup match between South Africa & UAE at Wellington Regional Stadium. Photo: Backpagepix

Castle Lager Proteas coach Russell Domingo says the ICC Cricket World Cup quarter-final against Sri Lanka at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Wednesday March 18 will be a “tight contest” against the former World Cup champions.

Domingo feels it will be an evenly matched encounter based on past results, and will come down to who plays their best brand of cricket on the day. “There is always room for improvement,” he said of the Proteas’ World Cup campaign.

“South Africa have found themselves in a tough situation, where if they win all their games in the group stages people question them, and if they don’t win all their games people still question them; it’s something that we have to bear with. We know we come with a clean slate. We have played some good cricket, some patchy cricket, but we come here knowing that if we play to our best ability on the day, we have a good chance of winning.”

Domingo says burdens of the past will not have an effect on the present day squad, and will have little bearing on his side’s preparation for the knockout match.

“We have spoken long and hard when we got here on playing the big moments and the big game when we get here,” he said. “ The guys are really up for peaking at the latter stages of the competition. We haven’t played the consistent brand of cricket that we would have wanted to, and we are expecting that to happen on Wednesday.”

The proverbial chockers-tag was predictably the hot topic of the pre-match talk, and the coach believes the current crop of players can learn a lot by fronting up to the topic.

“It’s been part of South African cricket for a very long time, every time we get to these events it will be mentioned,” he admitted. “ We have spoken about it, we have faced up to the fact that we have let opportunities slip by, and hopefully we will have learnt from the lessons previous sides have made in events like this.

“At the end of the day we just want to play good cricket, if the opportunity arises and somebody is at that stage of the game under pressure, we will try to focus on things that we have done well, and not get too caught up in things that have happened in the past.“

Explorer and expeditionary Mike Horn has joined the squad for a couple of days, and will provide good insight on facing fears and operating outside of comfort zones.

“Mike Horn has done a lot of scarier things than facing Dale Steyn or Morne Morkel,” Domingo said. ”He will put it into perspective for us what pressure and fear is like, and being out of your comfort zone,” he said. “He has been in situations like that before, it’s great to have his energy around, he has been with us before, he connects well with players, which is great fun to have with us.”

Annette van Schalkwyk
Sports journalist

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