Spinners our backbone — Smith

2011-02-24 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Graeme Smith is leading South Africa for the second time at a Cricket World Cup and the imposing left-hander believes the presence of three frontline spinners is the biggest plus his team take into the 2011 tournament.

“It’s the best spin attack we’ve ever had at a World Cup, the most variety we’ve had and it gives us a lot of options. They can cover all the bases in all conditions.

“Our strategy will differ game to game, but we have a lot more variety in our bowling than in 2007, when I felt we had a lot of similar bowlers. Now we have pace, bounce, left-armers and three spinners,” Smith said in Delhi yesterday.

Not all three spinners are likely to be in the line-up for today’s opening game against the West Indies, however, with Johan Botha and Robin Peterson offering better balance to the team in terms of their all-round ability than Imran Tahir.

The top five chooses itself and Dale Steyn, Morné Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe are near-certainties as the frontline seamers, leaving positions seven and eight open for all-rounders and Faf du Plessis, Morné van Wyk and Colin Ingram fighting over the number six slot.

“It’s just about judging the conditions well and picking the right team,” Smith said.

Even though the South Africans have been in India for two weeks without yet playing a serious match, they have certainly not just been gallivanting around the sub-continent.

Despite their excellent recent record against the West Indies, they know they will need to be fully primed for their opening match at the Feroz Shah Kotla today. Smith and his men are certainly not expecting another boring walkover victory.

“The Netherlands showed on Tuesday how one good performance, like Ryan ten Doeschate’s, can really put you in the game. So we’ve prepared really well, our warm-up matches were reasonably good, and we’re looking forward to playing our first game.

“I’ve definitely noticed that the guys’ expectation and energy is a lot bigger. Even though the West Indies’ consistency is not as good, this is not a series. They have match-winners, so they are very dangerous in a one-off game. They have guys who can punish you and take the game away from you, so we have to be very careful,” Smith stressed.

Despite all the talk about the pitch being very good for spin, Smith said real pace, as shown by Australia against Zimbabwe, could still be a trump card in this World Cup.

“There’s always a place for genuine pace, nobody likes to face it. Batsmen have to front up and pace is always an asset, at any World Cup.”

So Steyn and Morkel could yet be the dangermen. — News24.

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