TELFORD VICE in London
SOUTH Africa face a crunch clash against India at The Oval in London on Sunday – winning it is likely to be essential to their bid to stay alive in the Champions Trophy.
So, what to do?
What plans to make?
What video to review?
What concerns to raise?
What positives to highlight?
What areas to focus on at training?
None of the above.
That’s if the South Africans are to take a leaf out of Pakistan’s book.
On Sunday, the Pakistanis delivered one of their most inept performances even by their mercurial standards to crash to defeat to India by 124 runs at Edgbaston in Birmingham.
Couldn’t bat, couldn’t bowl, couldn’t field.
Couldn’t beat a team comprised of their grandmothers.
Back at the scene of those crimes three days later, Pakistan played like a side possessed by the fact that another loss would probably earn them an early flight out of the UK.
“See that fella who’s just dived full length to stop that ball,” a Pakistani fan told a reporter at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
“On Sunday he couldn’t be bothered to take his hands out of his pockets.”
The victims of Pakistan’s unrecognisably improved performance were South Africa.
What did the Pakistanis do to turn things around so quickly, particularly in the field, in the previous two days?
“We did no fielding at all,” their captain, Sarfraz Ahmed, said.
“We had rain the other day, so actually we did nothing.”
Rain did indeed force the teams indoors for their preparations on both training days.
Did their coach, Mickey Arthur, who was visibly and volubly distressed by his team’s display on Sunday, vent his spleen at them?
“No, there was no shouting,” Sarfraz said.
“Our coaching staff is very good.
“They backed us after the defeat and supported us very well.
“That’s why we played a good game today.”
And then there was the crowd.
A walk around Edgbaston an hour or so before the start of Wednesday’s game revealed precious few South Africa supporters in the crowd of 18 646.
“That is a feeling we miss, not playing in Pakistan,” Sarfraz said about his team of nomadic team, who have not played at home since 2009 because of security fears.
“Maybe that was the difference – the crowd was supporting us and that’s why the players were boosted.”
Perhaps South Africa should petition the tournament organisers to move Sunday’s game to Wimbledon, home to hordes of their expatriate compatriots.
Or maybe they should do nothing, and turn up and play properly.