South Africans raise intensity ahead of World Cup

Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2003, 2:46 [IST]
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Cape Town: Captain Shaun Pollock and his South African teammates raised their intensity during a three-hour practice session at Newlands on Tuesday ahead of the World Cup. Pollock said his players were hungry for action after most had been away for cricket since the end of a series against Pakistan on January 6. "The intensity was very good. The guys were feeling rusty but I think that's really good because the guys are keen to get in there and work hard." South Africa plays the West Indies in the tournament's opening game at Newlands on February 9. After a relatively low-key net practice on Monday, the players were made to work hard by coach Eric Simons.

Fast bowler Allan Donald, who caused a minor scare on Monday when he stopped bowling because of tightness in his buttock muscles, bowled at full pace without any discomfort. Donald's problems were caused, according to physiotherapist Shane Jabaar, by stiffness following the team's camp in the Drakensberg mountains last week when the players were involved in non-cricket activities, which included cycling, hiking and white water rafting. Jabaar said he was confident Donald, 36, could be kept fit throughout the World Cup. "The key for us is to make sure he recovers quickly after he has been involved in any strenuous activity. This involves good, relaxed stretching, an ice bath to get the lactic acid moving and help his circulation, followed by massage." Pollock said there would be another high-intensity net practice on Wednesday before the players dispersed to spend two nights with their families. They will gather in Cape Town again on Friday and play a 40-over-a-side warm-up match against South African domestic One-day champions Western Province at the Bellville ground on Saturday.

There will be two further warm-up games, 50-overs matches against Boland in Paarl on Tuesday and Western Province again at the Green Point Track. The objective in the warm-up games will be "to try and get everyone into tip-top form and make sure they're firing." The final match against Western Province will be a dress rehearsal for the West Indies encounter. "The side for that game will be pretty close to what we're going to play against the West Indies." Pollock said the West Indies had shown impressive form. "They're a strong side, they've had some good results lately so their confidence must be up. They've also got Brian (Lara) back. But we've got some good results against them in the past. We feel confident going into it but we know we have to play well." The South African captain said there had been a noticeable increase in public interest ahead of the first World Cup to be staged in Africa. "There's been a huge difference from the public. Everyone who sees us is passing on their best wishes for the World Cup, saying we must keep it here. They're really getting into the tournament.

" From his personal point of view, though, Pollock said his third World Cup tournament felt different from the other two because it was at home. "When you go abroad you realise it's started but here we're getting into it a little slowly. It could be just another series because we're used to practising at Newlands. "But when we start seeing a few foreign faces around and walk out for that opening ceremony and see the class players around we're going to realise we're in the tournament." Pollock said he was not concerned about champion and favourite Australia.

"We've got six pool games to worry about first. Then we'll be focusing on the Super Six where we'll be bound to meet them. There's a lot of cricket to be played first." Asked to comment on the latest controversy over the playing of games in Zimbabwe, Pollock said he looked forward to the opening ceremony on February 8 when the focus would switch to the playing of cricket. "It would be disappointing if it (politics) ruined the spectacle," he said.


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