‘We have moved on from World Cup’

2015-08-20 06:00

WHILE most South African cricket fans are seeing the three-match ODI series against New Zealand as a chance for retribution after the World Cup semi-final earlier this year, Protea ODI vice-captain Hashim Amla has moved on and is focused on the present.

If we need reminding, the Black Caps won a tight semi-final, booking their spot in the final against Australia and sending the Proteas home to ponder on matters for another four years.

Playing on home soil is an advantage for the Proteas but each match, starting with today’s showdown at Centurion, represents a new challenge and a new beginning.

“I think our one-day and T20 squads are probably in the same boat right now and want to prove themselves in every game, starting from scratch,” said Amla. “We have moved on from the World Cup and it’s no good focusing on the past. What counts is today’s game and how we go about things on home soil in interesting conditions.”

That alone has been a talking point, playing cricket in the middle of winter on the Highveld and in Durban, with neither side quite certain what to expect from the pitches prepared so far.

“I think the wickets have played well so far, the weather has been good and we have been surprised at how good the wickets have been,” said Amla.

“There’s no major threat of rain and we expect another sunny winter’s day allowing a full contest to be played.”

Fielding, especially in the outfield has been hazardous at times, the hard, dry surface not favouring sliding, diving and extravagant stops.

“It has been quite testing and tricky in the field but with a hard, fast outfield, the ball races to the boundary preventing too much diving around.

“The wickets have been a bit low here and there but not much different from what summer offers. There could even be some swing for the bowlers today.”

With key players missing from both sides an interesting contest is expected, allowing different players to play that match-winning innings or produce a scintillating bowling spell. The opportunities are waiting to be taken.

“New Zealand will have more or less the same bunch of players they relied on for the T20 and they have shown what they can do,” said Amla. “They have ample and strong depth and have a proud record in recent years in the one-day format, whether in New Zealand or away from home.”

Amla highlighted that injuries and players needing rest was part and parcel of today’s international cricket culture and a good team was one that took the changes in their stride without faltering.

“Since the World Cup I think all the major teams are in transition, introducing new players, trying new combinations and gameplans,” he said.

“There’s four years to get it right again, plus the T20 World Cup next year and the Champion’s Trophy in two years, in India.

“Players need game time and there is ample time for them to stake a claim in the side and become permanent fixtures.”

As for today, Faf du Plessis is definitely out with his troublesome knee, meaning David Wiese will occupy the number seven slot as the all-rounder in the side, offering pace with the ball and destructive hitting low down the order. This will be his debut in the one-day format for the Proteas.

Farhaan Berhardien will also likely get a start after his mature performance in the second T20 on Sunday, plus he knows what Centurion can offer from his strong domestic performances for the Titans.

Dolphins players Morné van Wyk, David Miller, Imran Tahir and Kyle Abbott should all fancy an outing and play key roles in the Proteas getting off to a winning start.

Play starts at 12.30pm and the match is telecast on SS2 from midday

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