Arthur: We Must Focus
South Africa are refusing to take victory for granted when they start their World Cup campaign against Holland in on Friday.
South Africa are refusing to take victory for granted when they start their World Cup campaign with a Group A match against Holland in St Kitts on Friday.
Coach Mickey Arthur is aware the minds of many outside his squad are already being cast forward to a final group-stage match against Australia in nine days' time.
It is universally accepted that fixture will decide which of the top two International Cricket Council-ranked one-day teams heads the table here and therefore progresses to the Super Eight stage with a significant advantage in the bag.
But Arthur is not allowing his players to be sucked into such thoughts yet – because he is determined they will not slip up against the capable cricketers they must first face from Holland and then Scotland.
"We are taking nobody lightly," he pronounced.
"We have to get into this tournament and perform, and that starts tomorrow with Holland.
"For us to progress, we've got to get past Holland and Scotland.
"Once we've got past those two sides, then the World Cup starts – because then you have cemented your place in the Super Eight.
"Our immediate two goals are Holland and Scotland – we'll think about the rest later."
Arthur is not alone, meanwhile, among the Group A protagonists in having to begin to factor in the unexpected prospect of rain delays and reserve-day finishes in Basseterre.
Forecasters predict at least a 30 per cent chance of rain for the next 10 days – with a 60 per cent probability on some.
Thursday, a practice or rest day for the four teams, any scheduled cricket would have been washed out until at least early afternoon.
Arthur, however, is not about to get too worked up about an element he cannot control.
"It's not in the script, but we have two days – and I'm sure we'll get something over the two days," he said.
"The forecast is not particularly encouraging for the next seven to eight days – but at least there is a reserve day.
"We are confident that in two days there will be some sort of a result."
Strike bowler Makhaya Ntini will not play in the game, having only just arrived in St Kitts following the birth of his first daughter.
South Africa's Dutch opponents were unable to practise because of the rain at Warner Park – but captain Luuk van Troost is happy with his team's preparations so far.
Holland will play Australia too, before they face Scotland in a match both associate member countries are labelling their own 'World Cup final'.
Van Troost is adamant, though, that Holland must believe they stand a chance against their first two opponents too.
"Our first goal is to win against Scotland. That is very important to us," he concedes.
"But against South Africa and Australia, we've got a chance; if you don't give yourself a chance, there is no use coming to this tournament. You have to back yourself."
If Holland are to cause an upset, van Troost suggests they will do so by playing to their strengths in the field.
"There's no pressure at all for us – we are the underdogs," he said.
"The pressure is on South Africa. We saw what Ireland did [in a warm-up match last week] – they bowled them out for 190.
"We beat Ireland in Kenya in our last game, so there's no reason why we can't do that. The pressure is on them, not on us.
"Our strengths are bowling and fielding. In the last World Cup, we bowled India out for 200 – we can do that with any team."
Making a competitive total or chasing a tough one may present more of a problem.
"We might struggle with the batting, especially against real pace and world-class spinners – because we don't have that experience," van Troost explains.
"But we want to show the international cricket world that we can play cricket.
"If we do that, we can play a good match tomorrow."
<B>South Africa:</b> G Smith (captain), H Gibbs, J Kallis, AB de Villiers, A Prince, M Boucher (wkt), A Hall, S Pollock, J Kemp, C Langeveldt, A Nel.
<B>Holland (from):</b> L van Troost (captain), D Reekers, B Zuiderent, A Kervezee, R ten Doeschate, P Borren, M Kashif, T de Leede, D van Bunge, B Stelling, J Smits (wkt), M Jonkman, A Raja, E Shiferli, E Szwarczynski.
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