SA won't fall for Oz hype; Dutch to follow Eire suit

Published: Friday, March 16, 2007, 7:27 [IST]
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Basseterre (St Kitts&Nevis):South African captain Graeme Smith refused to be drawn into a slanging match with Australia, claiming his focus is on playing the Netherlands and Scotland before facing the world champions.

"Our key focus has been on getting all the areas of our game right. We have two games to go before taking on Australia," said Smith ahead of his team's opening Group A clash against the Dutch here on Friday.

Australian paceman Glenn McGrath claimed on Wednesday that South Africa, who deposed defending champions Australia from the world top ranking spot recently, can't handle pressure.

The two sides meet here on March 24 in what will be a highly-charged game with the winner taking two extra points with them into the second round Super Eights.

Smith said he was surprised at the timing of McGrath's outburst.

"We were surprised nothing came from Glenn earlier. From our point of view it really means nothing. We've handled pressure better than Australia of late in big games, so I guess it's just another drop in the ocean," said the captain.

South Africa were out of sorts in their warm-up matches, losing to Pakistan by seven wickets after struggling to a narrow win over outsiders Ireland.

However, Smith felt his side has the quality to bounce back.

"We know if we perform we have got the players and the team and the passion to perform well over here. That's our focus at the moment. We haven't really taken too much notice of what's been going on around us.

"We will see when we get to Australia - we've got two games before that."

Paceman Makhaya Ntini joined the team late Wednesday after attending the birth of his daughter back home.

"I think we will play with the best eleven. Of course, Ntini needs time to find his feet and will play the second match against Scotland before the match against Australia," said Smith.

The South African skipper criticised the facilities during the warm-up matches at Port of Spain where his team's top-order struggled.

"The facilities in Trinidad were poor but here the pitch looks pretty good. I watched the last 12 overs of the Australian innings (against Scotland on Wednesday) and it looks pretty good.

"The straight boundaries look small, which with our ability to hit the ball up the ground is certainly going to play into our hands."

Smith hoped the intensity would be high during the match against Australia.

"We are in close proximity at the hotel so we bump into each other. In terms of running into Australia it hasn't been a problem. We have shared hotels in Montego Bay and we were on the same plane.

"Relationships off the field are pretty good and mature. Players chat and say hello. But when it gets onto the field I'm pretty sure it will be competitive, the same way Australia and South Africa play all the time."

Smith said his team has watched some of the footage of the Dutch and Scottish teams and would be ready for both sides.

Dutch to follow Irish suit against SA: Captain Luuk van Troost believes they can take heart from fellow minnows Ireland when they tackle mighty South Africa in their World Cup opener here on Friday.

Ireland gave the world number one team a huge scare in a warm-up match last week when they had the South Africans reeling at 92-8 before Andrew Hall rescued Graeme Smith's men.

"We saw what Ireland did, they bowled them out for 190, and we beat Ireland in Kenya in our last game, so theres no reason why we cant do it," said the Netherlands' 37-year-old skipper.

"The pressure is all on them, not on us. We are the underdogs," added van Troost whose team, like his opponents, were unable to practice due to rain at Warner Park on Thursday.

Defending champions Australia, who are also in Group A, thumped Scotland by 203 runs in their opening match here on Wedensday.

The top two teams qualify for the next round Super Eight.

Van Troost said Scotland didn't perform badly.

"It was a devastating match, but Scotland bowled quite well until the 45th over. Australia is our second match and we have South Africa on Friday so first things first. We want to show the world that we can play cricket."


South Africa: Graeme Smith (capt), Jacques Kallis (vice-capt), Loots Bosman, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Hall, Justin Kemp, Charl Langeveldt, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Robin Peterson, Shaun Pollock, Ashwell Prince and Roger Telemachus

Netherlands: Luuk van Troost (capt), Peter Borren, Daan van Bunge, Ryan ten Doeschate, Mark Jonkman, Muhammad Kashif, Alexei Kervezee, Tim de Leede, Adeel Raja, Darron Reekers, Edgar Schiferli, Jeroen Smits, Billy Stelling, Eric Szwarczynski and Bas Zuiderent


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