In a good space
Greetings once again from Sri Lanka. We’ve just returned from a fantastic couple of days away at a beach resort, and now the focus shifts once again to cricket and the Super Eights stage of the World T20.
The time away was really useful and hats off to the management for thinking of it. Up until that point, we had been playing cricket just about every day for about 10 days, whether it was a match or a training day. So, heading off to the resort after our win over Sri Lanka was an excellent idea. It was a complete switch-off from cricket, and the only mention of it took place when we gathered to talk about the week ahead, and what we wanted to achieve. What was also nice was that the wives and girlfriends joined us, and that was perfectly timed.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a beach person, so I enjoyed going for a swim in the sea, jumping on a jet ski, tube or wake board. There were also some excellent restaurants there, so we ate like kings. Generally, though, it was nice to just relax and get away from playing cricket. On top of that, we had the place to ourselves.
Now we’re back in Colombo and getting ready to play Pakistan in our first Super Eights game.There are some great teams still in the competition, although we are quietly confident.
Just some reflection on the win over Sri Lanka, which was a rather strange game, being a seven-over affair. In fact, of the three T20 games I’ve played for South Africa, one has been a seven-over game and one has been a nine-over game. I was chuffed to get a run, although I would have loved to get more runs than my 13 from 11 balls. With Hashim and AB hitting the ball so well, I was more concerned with getting off strike and just running my twos very well, which was important on a big field.
What was crucial was getting a competitive total up front, as we’ve seen teams batting first and posting a total usually going on to win the game, when it is so short in terms of overs. As a batting unit, you know that you just have to go out and play big shots from the first ball, so you’re under pressure, and that’s what we saw with the Sri Lankans.
In terms of the tournament as a whole, what has struck me is that there isn’t a clear favourite. Like I said, there are eight quality teams left in the competition and in my opinion, probably six of them will think they’ve got a good chance of winning the title.
All we can do is prepare as well as we can and take each game as it comes. In the past, there was a lot of pressure on the Proteas team to do well or win the tournament, and get over that ‘chokers’ tag. We saw that with the last World Cup, when we badly wanted to prove people wrong.
This year, it’s a little different, in my opinion. Our whole mentality acknowledges the fact that we’ve choked in the past, but that we are now doing things differently. So far, it’s working for us, and Gary Kirsten and Paddy Upton have played a big role in that. We’ve also talked about accepting if we get beaten on the day by a better side – that is allowed, and certainly it happens in the shortest form of the game. Basically, anything can happen in T20 cricket.
But, we’ve got an open mindset now and the guys are playing with more freedom, without the pressure that we’ve put on ourselves before.
It’s a good space to be in.