Smith’s men are working their way to the top

2008-04-12 00:00

CONCENTRATION is the key to cricket. Taking the eye off the ball even for an instant can be fatal. Any batsman whose mind wonders for an instant is a goner. Any bowler whose brain stops functioning can expect to be taken apart. A fieldsmen as unreliable as the power provided by highly-paid Eskom executives is bound to suffer the consequences. A captain whose thoughts stray loses his grip. A coach who relaxes will presently face the chop. A team that becomes idle is heading for calamity. Focus is everything.

Obviously this dichotomy makes it harder to beat nations like Australia that think only about victory. Australia remains the benchmark in cricket because of its strong administration and unwaivering aim. The Aussies might lose, but they rarely beat themselves. Australia knows itself. It is far more complicated in this neck of the woods. All the more reason to praise those involved in South Africa’s recent achievements in rugby and cricket, including the youth teams. Clearly, they managed to attain the required intensity, entering a world where nothing else matters except the next ball or pass. Always there is a look in the eye of the champion.

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