Proteas ignore controversy

2011-01-20 14:42

South Africa’s cricketers will concentrate on their preparations for the World Cup and not become embroiled in the controversy over Cricket SA’s (CSA) president, Proteas’ captain Graeme Smith said today.

“We’ve successfully stayed away from that sort of stuff,” Smith said in Port Elizabeth today.

CSA president Mtutuzeli Nyoka has reportedly been asked to resign. He has received a letter from the CSA board inviting him to a meeting to discuss his position.

“It’s our job to really focus on the cricket and not get caught up in that,” said Smith.

“The players themselves have enough to worry about with the pressures and responsibility of going to a World Cup and that’s our primary focus at the moment,” he said.

“We’ve got to trust that there are people above us who can handle that and do their jobs properly. Like they trust us to play cricket and to be successful, we’ve got to trust them.

“We’re hoping now that the World Cup squad is out, the tension has lifted off the players and they can play their own game tomorrow [Friday]. They can play with a bit more freedom.”

The Proteas play their fourth One Day International against India at St George’s Park, in Port Elizabeth, tomorrow.

Albie Morkel has been released from the squad to return to duty with his Titans franchise, as he missed the cut yesterday to travel with the team to the World Cup in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka from February 19.

“We originally brought him into the squad to provide additional cover in the batting all-rounder position, but we have now decided that it is better for him to have regular match practice with the Titans,” said coach Corrie van Zyl.

“He remains a standby player for the World Cup squad in the event of injury.”

Knights’ captain Morne van Wyk, who is part of the 15-man squad, has been drafted in for the remaining ODIs and has joined the team in Port Elizabeth.

“Morne obviously gives up options. He’s going to the World Cup as the second keeper and there are options with that,” said Smith.

“We’ll look at things tomorrow and see if we can change things up a bit and give one or two opportunities to one or two guys,” he said.

Constant drizzle today made life difficult for St George’s groundsman Adrian Carter, who said it had been difficult preparing the wicket in the wet conditions while having to keep putting the covers back on.

“It’s a good, flat batting wicket and the team batting first will need to score 260 to 280 runs on this ground to be competitive,” he said.

“I’m just praying it doesn’t rain tomorrow.”

India’s captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said his team’s mood was good.

Their focus was always on the next game and how to do better and make fewer mistakes,” he said.

“We still have a lot of inconsistencies in our batting department. Batting is supposed to be our strength, but it’s been the middle order and the bowlers who have performed for us so we need to click together better,” he said.

“Hopefully we can perform according to the potential we have in the side.”

Dhoni indicated at the start of the tour that he may rest his fast bowlers towards the end of the ODI series, but said today that this would no longer happen.

“We need to play our fast bowlers. Zak [Zaheer Khan] must get back into the groove. The sub-continent can be very demanding and also quite humid so we need him and the others to get used to the work rate.

“Harbhajan [Singh] is bowling as well as he has ever bowled throughout his career and the part-timers are doing a good job for us but we need our fast bowlers to be ready for the World Cup.”

India lead the five-match series 2-1. 

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