Wessels doesn't want Proteas peaking too soon

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Former captain Kepler Wessels has advised South Africa to prioritise preparation for next year's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand above climbing the International Cricket Council's ODI rankings this month.

Former captain Kepler Wessels has advised South Africa to prioritise preparation for next year's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand above climbing the International Cricket Council's ODI rankings this month.

The Proteas climbed to second position in the rankings recently and had the opportunity to leapfrog number one India prior to Tuesday's defeat to the Aussies in a key tri-series fixture.

They are, however, likely to retain second spot if triumphant over the Zimbabweans on Thursday – and victorious in Sunday's final against the Australians at the Harare Sports Club.

"The build-up for the Proteas is now in full swing. It is going according to plan as well. However, AB de Villiers and his group are aware of the fact that the good work they are doing now is important but that they will be judged by what happens over that five-week period in Australia and New Zealand next February," Wessels wrote in a column for <i>Supersport</i>.

"Cricket enthusiasts find it easy to name teams that have won the different World Cups. They find it much harder to remember who was ranked number one in the world between World Cups.

"If you gave any international captain the option of being ranked number one in the world between World Cups, or winning the prestigious event, they will take the latter every time. The ideal is to be ranked at number one going into the World Cup and then winning the title."

The South Africans have been pooled with India, Pakistan, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland and United Arab Emirates at the 2015 limited-overs showpiece. Their first match will be against the Zimbabweans at Seddon Park in Hamilton on 15 February.

"We have seen teams across the different sports peaking between World Cups. Some of these teams have been on top of their game between events only to falter when the pressure of the knockout format comes along. The Proteas have been familiar with that unfortunate situation as well," added Wessels.

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