South Africa may be maintaining that they don’t care about the identity of their quarter-final opponent at the Cricket World Cup, but New Zealand are delighted that they are crossing swords with the Proteas.
Article from News24
That was the view of former South African pace bowler Allan Donald ahead of Friday’s knockout match between the teams.
Donald, who represented the Proteas in 72 Tests and 164 one-day games, has been the Kiwis’ bowling coach for the last few months – and he has already helped get the struggling nation back on the winning track.
“We are confident that we can beat South Africa and I know most of our players are delighted that we are playing against them rather than against one of the other sides,” said Donald.
“On paper they may be favourites, but we have a superior record in major tournaments.”
The Kiwis have beaten the Proteas in the last two tournaments (2003 and 2007) and, according to Donald, there may be another surprise on its way at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium.
While South Africa only lost one of their group matches, New Zealand took hidings from Australia and Sri Lanka.
“What has happened to date in the tournament does not matter anymore because knockout games are something completely different and every team will be a little nervous – irrespective of what they say,” said Donald.
“The thought that your World Cup will be over if you slip up just once is enough to make everybody nervous. The team that wins will be the one who handles that pressure the best.”
That is why Donald believes the playing field is level.
“Both teams are playing on a foreign ground and have exhaustively studied each other’s strengths and weaknesses. For us, and South Africa, the World Cup only starts on Friday and our challenge is to be stronger than them between the ears.”
‘White Lightning’ admitted that the Proteas are looking a daunting unit at the tournament thus far.
“Many people still believe that South Africa had their best chance of winning the World Cup in 1999, but this team is just as well balanced as we were – and possibly even better,” he said.
Donald was part of the team that lost in Birmingham 12 years ago after a dramatic draw against Australia.
“It’s a long time ago and if the South Africans are still worried about what happened then, they have problems.”
By Eduan Roos