Proteas Look For Good Start
Victory for South Africa over Sri Lanka on Wednesday will be the perfect start to their Super Eight campaign.
Victory for South Africa over Sri Lanka on Wednesday will be the perfect start to their Super Eight campaign and help ease memories of a failure which has dogged them for four years.
A tie during the last World Cup, worsened by the fact it was down to a misreading of the target score in a rain-reduced contest, led to the South Africans' exit on home soil in 2003.
Smith became South Africa's youngest captain a few days after that Durban disaster and has since overseen a rise culminating with their arrival in the Caribbean as the number one country in the one-day rankings.
"That was a pretty sad day, I remember the disappointment on the guys' faces knowing they were not going forward at that World Cup," recalled Smith, one of seven Proteas in that match expected to play on Wednesday.
"It was massively disappointing for the weather to play a part but we have moved away from that.
"As a team we are trying to set new standards, reach new levels.
"It is as important to learn from your mistakes as it is to generate your personality, your own style as a team and that is what we have achieved over the last year and a half."
History suggests it will be hard to call the winner tomorrow at Guyana's newly-built Providence Stadium with both countries having won 21 times in 44 previous meetings.
But, as they head into the second stage of the Caribbean competition without a point and with a hefty deficit on run rate, it is Graeme Smith's team who are in greater need of victory.
With Ireland and Bangladesh the surprise presence among those left here, barring any further shocks it should mean teams need five wins from seven outings to guarantee qualification for the semi-finals.
Yet Smith warned: "I guess it is easy with seven games to go to sit down and plan but what we have learned from these tournaments is nothing seems to go to plan.
"We are just trying to keep our focus on this part of the tournament, we know if we can have a successful time in Guyana, it takes a lot of pressure off us going to Grenada and Barbados to take on the other teams."
Although tomorrow's contest is the inaugural one at the ground, Guyana, land of the legendary Lance Gibbs, traditionally favours spin and as such might offer encouragement to Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan, if ever he needed any.
However, Smith is confident of his team's ability to face the tournament's most potent threat.
"We've played against Murali quite a lot now, it doesn't necessarily make it any easier as he is a world-class bowler but we have strategies that have been in place for a while against him," Smith said.
"In a Test series in Sri Lanka we had a lot of young guys but we still managed to score over three runs an over against him.
"That was quite encouraging, most of the guys are pretty comfortable with him now and have had reasonable success against him.
"He is obviously Sri Lanka's massive weapon and the way we cope with him is going to be important."
How they cope with the effects of the weather may also be a factor with rain forecast.
"That might actually become an issue here," Smith said, of being prepared for a reduced-overs game. "It is something we have discussed.
"It might be about getting 40 overs in in two days if the weather is going to carry on like this.
"But we've played our fair share of 20-over cricket, most of our guys are pretty comfortable with it and if it happens I am pretty sure we will be able to adapt to what is thrown at us."
Smith, meanwhile, has been on a hydration process this week in a bid to counter a recurrence of the cramps which forced him to retire hurt while in full flow with the bat against Australia at the weekend.
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