Huge chance' for Proteas to break trophy duck in T20

Published: Monday, September 3, 2007, 17:07 [IST]
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The inaugural Twenty20 world championship will provide South Africa with the perfect opportunity to end their trophy hoodoo on their home soil, Proteas coach Mickey Arthur said on Monday.

The South Africans have garnered a reputation as chokers after failing to get beyond the semi-finals in 50-over World Cup tournaments since being ushered back into the international fold in 1992 and were knocked in the preliminary stages when they hosted the premier ODI competion in 2003.

But Arthur and skipper Graeme Smith believe that a chance of redemption is at hand when the two-week Twenty20 tournament begins with the Proteas taking on the West Indies in Johannesburg on September 11.

"It's a huge opportunity for us to win a world cup, to win a substantial event," Arthur told reporters in Johannesburg.

"We have not won a major ICC (International Cricket Council) event since unity. It's a challenge that the players have set themselves and something that's attainable if we play to our full potential."

South Africa's preparations have been marred by a row over the decision to drop star batsman Jacques Kallis from the team. When wicketkeeper Mark Boucher criticised the move, he was slapped with a heavy fine.

Smith said the team had not allowed themselves to be disrupted by the disputes and had remained focused on the task ahead.

Smith remained coy about South Africa's main challengers but said teams who were able to adapt to the different demands of the new format would prosper.

"I think it will probably be the team with the most imagination that does best. One good performance can close the game down, and the unorthodox players come into their own in a tournament like this," he said.

Boucher was also fined for questioning the importance that players attached to the tournament, while India has notably rested stars such as Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.

It will also be the first major tournament since box office names like Brian Lara, Glenn McGrath, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Stephen Fleming either retired or ended their one-day careers.

Smith however said that the tournament represented an opportunity for a new generation of players to mark their mark.

"A lot of international players retired after the World Cup, and I think this tournament will see the next generation of stars coming into their own," he said.

After taking on the West Indies, South Africa will play their other first round group rivals Bangladesh in Cape Town on September 15.

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