Shafiek Abrahams reckons the Proteas have enough experience to mount a serious Champions Trophy challenger, writes Khanyiso Tshwaku
Shafiek Abrahams, a one-cap ODI wonder turned national selector, spent the 2000 ICC Champions Trophy as a spectator.
With the Proteas shorn of experience, Abrahams, a tidy off-spinner in his day, said this was the time where they could spring a surprise or two.
“We’ll miss Jacques Kallis’ and Graeme Smith’s experience but we also haven’t won anything with them, trophy wise,” said Abrahams.
“Maybe the young guys who are coming into the team seeking to establish themselves are going to play with a bit more freedom, and with cool and calm heads.
“There’s still some experience with the likes of AB de Villiers, Alviro Petersen and Hashim Amla. They will bring that and calmness to the top order.”
One thing the Proteas will have to deal with is pressure, something they have not done very well at in the past.
The 2000 tournament, which was held in Kenya, and in which the Proteas were semifinalists, was kicked off by an eight-wicket quarterfinal win against England.
This was their last knockout-match win in any kind of ICC tournament.
Abrahams acknowledged the Proteas have the ability to compete, but how they will deal with pressure will be up to the individuals.
“South Africa has never gone into a tournament without being one of the favourites and one of our strengths has always been our ability to compete in any competition. We have a chance of winning this year,” said Abrahams.
“To win, we’ll need to find two or three batsmen who must be in good form. We’ve got all these good players, but how they deal with pressure will be up to the individuals. The batsmen will need to realise they have more time in the 50 overs and, as the bowler, you have to stay patient.
“The more things you bring into a game, the more mistakes you make.”
The Kenya tournament, won by New Zealand, was South Africa’s first tournament after the Hansie Cronje match-fixing saga.
The Proteas were blown away by India, thanks to Sourav Ganguly’s unbeaten 142-ball 141 in the semifinal. But South Africa did well to even get that far, according to Abrahams.
“It was a testing time and Shaun Pollock ensured the guys stayed focused. It is easier to look back now, but it was the worst time to take over the captaincy.
“The main aim was for us to get on with the game,” he said.
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