SA living in interesting times

Sunday Times


TELFORD VICE in London

MIGNON du Preez would have hoped to be able to discuss a victory after South Africa’s World Cup match against New Zealand in Derby on Wednesday. Instead she found herself talking about the weather.

“We came prepared — we brought our jackets — and we were actually surprised by the first few days,” Du Preez told reporters after the game was washed out.

“It was really sunny and apparently those were the best summer days they’ve had here. We were caught off guard, but it changed quickly.

“There might still be some, umm, interesting days during the tournament but we’re just going to do our best to stay focused.”

Focused the South Africans will have to be in their clash with West Indies in Leicester on Sunday.

No rain is due, but the forecast is surely more predictable than South Africa were when they almost found a way to lose to Pakistan at the same ground last Sunday.

Even three runouts failed to stop them from winning by three wickets with an over to spare. And to think they were 113 without loss chasing a middling 207.

New Zealand, one of only three teams to have won the tournament, would have presented a tougher challenge.

So South Africa will not be unhappy to have escaped with a point.

On Sunday they are up against a team who know they have to win.

The Windies have already gone down to favourites Australia and India. Another loss would put them in the tournament’s departure lounge.

“We have some of the greatest players in the world,” off-spinner Annisa Mohammed said. “I think they just need to believe in themselves and believe that they can go out and do the job.”

This the West Indians should know already, having won the world T20 last year. But Mohammed clearly thought they needed reminding.

“We have batsmen all the way down but it’s a matter of players getting in and staying in, and valuing their wickets,” she said.

“We need to relax and keep believing in ourselves. We need to find a way somehow to relax and recuperate and believe we are great players.

“I keep saying to the team that people think we are a great T20 team — but this is the same team that helped us qualify automatically for this World Cup, so we can win 50-over games as well.”

That might make the South Africans might want to issue a reminder of their own about what happened the last time the teams met over 50 overs.

Last Thursday in a warm-up game in Oakham medium pacer Masabata Klaas took 4/14 to help South Africa send the Windies packing for 63.

But there won’t be any harking back to all that: the South Africans managed to lose four wickets before securing the win.

“We played quite well against them in the warm-up game, but that doesn’t count,” Du Preez said.

But this might. Of their previous 19 one-day internationals against West Indies, South Africa have won eight and lost nine, while another has been tied.

That should make for another, umm, interesting day.

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