Kirsten~~s outburst widens split in South African squad

Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Johannesburg: The splits developing in the South African World Cup squad widened even further on Tuesday when opening batsman Gary Kirsten hit back at those players who hanker for late, disgraced ex-skipper Hansie Cronje. Kirsten told his teammates to lay off current captain Shaun Pollock, warning them they should question their own part in the team's present crisis where two defeats in three games have placed their World Cup campaign in jeopardy. "Personally I feel Shaun has done a very good job," said Kirsten, who once served as Cronje's deputy. "He came into the job in very trying circumstances and when he was in charge we played our best cricket, matching Australia both here and there. I certainly don't think Shaun is to be blamed for where we are. "Instead of blaming Shaun individuals should look at themselves as to why things have gone wrong," Kirsten told SAPA news agency. Kirsten was unable to explain why certain players still hankered after Cronje and made public statements regarding their feelings but suggested that those making the statements should be questioned. On Monday, Kirsten's opening partner Herschelle Gibbs joined the chorus in singing Cronje's praises. "The passion with which Cronje played meant he was always keen and always believed we could win from any situation," Gibbs said. "Shaun is quite new to being a captain and he's obviously still got a lot to learn." Before the tournament, Jonty Rhodes and Allan Donald caused a stir by claiming they were dedicating the World Cup to Cronje. In the aftermath of the statement, a leading sports physiologist suggested that the dedication had the potential to split the side. Ken Jennings added that the pair might even have been expressing their concern about the current leadership of the side. Kirsten also came to the defence of Allan Donald, who has been fingered more than any other bowler for South Africa's woeful bowling display. "It's a difficult situation for Allan who has been one of South Africa's best bowlers. I still trust him though to do the job and I back him all the way. If we had a major game tomorrow, I'd back him to do the business for us," said Kirsten who admitted that their battle for World Cup survival was frustrating. "You'd expect to beat these sides nine times out of ten but you have to perform on the day and we just haven't been able to do that. As both an individual and as a team, we have to look in the mirror. As a team, the mirror would probably show that in this tournament we have not been clinical enough. We haven't been able to finish the game off."

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