Proteas hone their ‘edge’ before competition

2013-05-29 00:00

PROTEAS speedster Dale Steyn believes the pre-tour camp in Amsterdam will give the Proteas an “extra edge” ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy starting in England and Wales next week.

Steyn was speaking after the Proteas’ first practice in Amstelveen, the venue for the one-off ODI against the Netherlands on Friday.

The lengthy training session at the facilities of the VRA Cricket ground yesterday was a key outing, especially for half of the squad members who haven’t had match practice in nearly two months. South Africa’s only other warm-up match will be against Pakistan at the Oval on Monday before their opening match against India in Cardiff on June 6.

“The players who haven’t had match time because of the winter off-season have a few days to catch up on their skills and their strength,” said Steyn. “For the players that have been at the IPL [Indian Premier League], it will be about finding the best way to maintain their rhythm and fitness. We are all professionals and everybody in the side knows what to do before our first game in the UK.”

Steyn says it will be important to make the mental and tactical adjustments when making the shift from 20-over to 50-over cricket.

“The whole format changes and even your mental approach changes,” he said. “How aggressive you are, the fields that you set as a bowler, it’s sometimes easy to fall into defensive mode, because of the format that allows you extra time. As a batter, you don’t have to be too aggressive up front, because you have a lot of time. So the players have to find their game as quickly as possible before the competition.”

On Monday, the squad spent the day with explorer extraordinaire Mike Horn, and were put through intense activities, which included a challenging bicycle ride around Amsterdam, canoeing down the world-famous canals and a journey up the tallest building in the capital city.

“The challenges that Mike puts us through help us to cope better with some of the small things you might face when you are on a cricket field, that is what might give us the edge in the long run. He has been great. He put us through physical activities that tested our bodies and made us work as a team, so that we learnt to rely on our team-mates to get us over the line. These activities were great for us last year, before we went to England and Australia, and hopefully they will help us again.”

Meanwhile, Hashim Amla’s desire to contribute as a leader again may come as a surprise, especially after stepping down as vice-captain in February. However, with the team now needing his input, he is not likely to shy away from lending a helping hand.

“If I find the need to add value in a certain way, then I will go ahead,” he said.

“We’re in a good space. Most of us are pulling in the right direction. Jacques [Kallis] hasn’t been around the one-day game for the last year or so, so maybe the team has had a taste of it. Graeme [Smith]’s experience and assistance to AB will be missed, but we will conduct ourselves as we normally do and keep building the team.”

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