Hooper would like to cash in on pressure in the SA camp

Published: Sunday, February 9, 2003, 4:29 [IST]
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Cape Town: West Indian captain Carl Hooper said on Saturday his team would try to take advantage of the pressure that will be felt by hosts South Africa in the opening match of the 2003 World Cup at Newlands on Sunday. Hooper said that after two warm-up matches, and more than a week in South Africa, his team was ready for action. "We've got a feeling for the place. We're ready to play." The West Indian captain admitted his team, who is bidding to end a 24-year wait for a third World Cup, faced a tough task.

"The opposition (South Africans) is very strong and they have the track record. They are the hosts and they'll have a lot of home support but at the same time there will be a lot of pressure on the South African side, which we must use to our advantage. "The tone and trend will be dictated in the first ten or 15 overs. It will be important for us to play good, solid, tight cricket, not only in the first hour but for the duration of the game."

The teams completed their preparations on Saturday afternoon following a morning photo shoot for all 14 World Cup teams on a South African naval vessel in Table Bay harbour. South African captain Shaun Pollock said he was keen to play. "We've prepared well and we're confident about the way we're playing," he said. The South Africans will meet former President Nelson Mandela on Sunday morning as the final event of a packed pre-tournament programme.

"It has been a little bit hectic," said Pollock of a whirl of banquets, cocktail parties, a coaching session and a meet-the-fans autograph-signing stint. "It's probably not ideal but we are the hosts and certain things have to be done. The way the guys have gone about it has been superb. They've enjoyed all the experiences and they've done it in a professional manner. "Part and parcel of being a professional is dealing with the off-field as well as the on-field activities."

Pollock added his team was ready to handle the pressure that came with the weight of expectation of the South African public. "We play at home all the time and expectations are always high. Sure, the World Cup is a big event but we're a proud sporting nation and we have high expectations of all our sportsmen. You've got to use it as a positive and there will be a lot of support for us."

AFP Copyright AFP 2001

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