Jonty Rhodes, once hailed as the world’s best fielder, could be South Africa’s secret weapon at the 2007 World Cup.
Since being appointed fielding coach six months ago, Rhodes has lifted the standard of South Africa’s fielding to exceptional heights. The involvement of Rhodes, who played in South Africa’s previous four World Cups, is one reason why coach Mickey Arthur believes his team have left nothing to chance in their preparation.
South Africans have become used to being disappointed at the World Cup but Arthur believes 2007 could be different. Each of South Africa’s World Cup campaigns has ended in heartbreak, starting with a farcical end to the 1992 semifinal against England in Sydney when a tough but manageable target of 22 off 13 balls became an impossible 21 off one ball after a short rain break.
In 1996, South Africa were favourites after strong play in the round robin phase, only to be eliminated when Brian Lara made a brilliant century for the West Indies in the quarter-finals. In the last two tournaments, in 1999 and 2003, a single run thwarted South Africa in tied matches, spectacularly in a semifinal against Australia in 1999 and miserably against Sri Lanka four years later when they needed a win to go beyond the first round.
Arthur says the 2007 campaign has been built on three pillars - trust and respect for each other, clarity of the roles of each player and “incredible hard work”. South Africa, who have replaced Australia at the top of the international one-day rankings, have been labelled “chokers” after past failures but Arthur and captain Graeme Smith believe that proper preparation will overcome any potential jitters.
They are one of the form teams going into the World Cup. Their success has been built on seam bowling backed by outstanding fielding, together with a long batting line-up packed with hard-hitting all-rounders.
The lack of a high-quality spinner is a concern but Arthur is confident that a seam-based attack can prosper in the Caribbean. With five Super Eight matches - three in Guyana and two in Grenada - scheduled to be played on new pitches, Arthur has been gathering as much intelligence as he can.
Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini, who will share the new ball for South Africa, have played a crucial role in putting pressure on opponents by taking early wickets. Depending on conditions, they will be followed by two of strike bowler Andre Nel and swing bowlers Andrew Hall and Charl Langeveldt, with left-arm spinner Robin Peterson only likely to play if the pitch offers exceptional help to spinners. The fifth bowler’s role will be shared between Jacques Kallis, Justin Kemp and Smith.
Opening batsmen Smith and AB de Villiers can get South Africa off to a quick start but if they fail the solid Kallis is an ideal number three, followed by the free-scoring Herschelle Gibbs and a solid left-hander in Ashwell Prince.
The real strike power in the batting is in the lower order, where Mark Boucher, Kemp and Pollock are all capable of hitting the ball out of the ground. If South Africa are in a strong position, the strikers could be promoted above Prince in the batting order.
Boucher is one of the most experienced wicket-keepers in the world, while Smith, Kallis and Kemp are all good catchers in the slips cordon. Gibbs, De Villiers and Prince form an inner ring of quick, agile fielders.
Source:The NewsMore on:Jonty Rhodes, South Africa, World Cup
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Tuesday, February 20th, 2007 and is filed under General.
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