‘A lot of emotion’ over attack

2009-03-04 00:00

IN the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Pakistan, Proteas skipper Graeme Smith and his Australian counterpart Ricky Ponting both voiced their feelings over the horror at a sponsored breakfast at Durban’s ICC yesterday.

Smith, whose side had played in the same Gaddaffi Stadium less than 18 months ago, said there was a lot of emotion as the team travelled from Johannesburg on Tuesday.

“Having been there so recently, you can’t help but imagine being in that position … with grenades and rockets flying around you,” Smith said.

Smith said the unexpected nature of the attack also justified Cricket South Africa’s unrelenting stance over last year’s Champions’ Trophy, which was set to be held in Pakistan.

“This goes to show they were dead right in their assessment of the situation, and it gives us great comfort as a team to know that the board have our security as a massive priority.”

Ponting, meanwhile, said his side was shocked by the events and have been heartened by the additional security that has since been designated to them in Durban.

“It’s obviously terrible what has happened, and our initial thoughts go out to anyone who has been affected in any way by the tragedy,” the Aussie captain said.

Ponting added that talk of cricket turning its back on Pakistan is perhaps a little premature, with some parties calling for an immediate re-scheduling of the 2011 World Cup.

“I think that it’s important not to look too far ahead. Perhaps we should look at this current situation and then see if the situation improves with time.”

The whirlwind attack, which has shocked the world, was a reminder to always be wary, said Smith.

“You just have to be cautious and have your wits about you, and luckily we have strong security measures in place,” the Proteas captain said.

“Maybe the ICC needs to look at having certain requirements met before a team goes somewhere,” he added.

As for tomorrow’s second Test, Smith said he realises that his side has to improve greatly from their performance at the Wanderers.

“We are obviously playing a very good team, but we know we let ourselves down somewhat and we will be looking to rectify certain aspects,” he explained.

Just a week ago it was Ponting who was under pressure, with a young attack which was expected to struggle against the formidable South African batting line-up.

“It was a great Test for us, but we can’t rest on our laurels because we are playing a very good side,” Ponting said. “The main difference from our side was that we won the small contests, which are crucial, and we will obviously have to try to do the same again.”

During the first Test, the two sides had fluctuating fortunes with the referral system being trialled during the series.

“We quite enjoyed it,” Ponting said mockingly, in reference to Smith’s uncertain start to the technology.

“I didn’t have the best start, but I do tend to struggle with my own gadgets at home,” Smith countered.

“Seriously, though, we will have access to ‘hot-spot’ and ‘snicko’, so that should help iron out some decisions we felt might have gone against us,” Smith added.

South Africa also have to make a tough selection call, with the in-form Albie Morkel in the squad in place of the injured Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

With overcast conditions in Durban this week, Morkel may have an outside chance if the think-tank goes with an all-seam attack.

“Albie is an excellent prospect who is learning all the time, and he will obviously give us more depth in the batting,” Smith said.

“But we will have to see what conditions are like on Friday before making any calls.”

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