Rediff On The NeT is India's number one online information and entertainment service.

Confident South African squad arrives in India

15 October 1996

The South African cricket team arrived in Bombay, and the first thing they learnt was that India had won the one off Test against Australia in less than four days.

S'African skipper Hansie Cronje took it as a bad omen for his side, which is in India for a gruelling two-month tour without four of its regular players.

The Springboks, turned Proteas, are without medium pacer Craig Mathews, one-drop batsman Jacques Kallis, all-rounder Shaun Pollock and mystery spinner Paul Adams.

Cronje said it will be difficult to put on a brave face when one is missing four quality players, but added that he hoped that Kallis, suffering from stress fracture, and Adams, out with a groin injury, recover in time for the three-Test series starting from November 20 at Ahmedabad. Cronje has a new deputy Garry Kirsten, who now tops their one-day batting average.

Cronje felt that his side is in crack one-day form, but the Tests, particularly on turning tracks in India against quality spinners, will be a different ball game. Though they have come prepared with a second line of attack in veteran off spinner Pat Symcox, newcomer Derek Crookes and left hander Nicky Boje, he said the four stars would be missed. ``The Indian tour will however be an ideal platform for Symcox, Crookes and Boje to prove their mettle,'' Cronje said.

Rating Kirsten as the best player of spin in the South African side, Cronje said if his side were to put up fighting totals, he himself as also top batsmen Dave Cullinan and Jonty Rhodes will have to improve their record against spinners.

Asked about the triangular series for the Titan Cup, which will pit his side against Australia and India, he said that it would be a tough contest, but added that this did not weigh particularly heavily on his mind right now.

Cronje's confidence stems from the fact that his side has had a great record in one day cricket of late, and are fresh from winning the four-nation Kenya Centenary Cup at Nairobi, in which world champions Sri Lanka and top-notch side Pakistan also participated. Cronje said that as usual, their fielding proved a strong point and promised that they will keep up the same high standards here.

The South African team, Cronje felt, has good depth in batting and bowling, especially in the one day format. The captain felt that his side's defeat in the quarterfinal of the World Cup still ranked, and beating India and Australia in the upcoming Titan Cup would go a long way towards healing it. According to him, Pat Symcox will be his pinch hitter and the burly Brian McMillan will be in a supporting role for fast bowlers Fanie De Villiers and Alan Donald.

Later in the evening, the side flew to Hyderabad, venue of the first match of the Titan Cup, on October 17, against India.

``India is playing well in the one-day games, and under its new captain Sachin Tendulkar look to be a good side,'' Cronje said. ``We look forward for nail biting matches in the coming two months.''

The South African team will take on India in a five Test series back home after their two-month tour in India. To a query about how both India and South Africa would adjust from playing on slow pitches in India to the fast ones in South Africa, Cronje said ``We have a nine day gap after the Indian tour, and we will adjust to our home conditions very fast, but it will take the Indians more time to adjust.''

The South African team: Hansie Cronje, Gary Kirsten, Andrew Hudson, Daryll Cullinam, Jonty Rhodes, Herschel Gibbs, Brain McMillan, Lance Klusener, Dave Richardson, Pat Symcox, Derek Crookes, Nicky Boje, Fanie De Villiers, Allan Donald. Coach: Bob Woolmer, Manager: Robbie Muzzell, Assistant Manager: Goolam Rajah.

Source: Rediff On The NeT
Comments to Rediff can be sent to Prem Panicker at
Contributed by CricInfo Management
Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 15:11