Proteas coach Ottis Gibson has been in England for many years – having played for Glamorgan, Leicestershire and Durham, and then enjoyed two different spells as the national team’s bowling coach – so when he says the factor that he believes could have the biggest impact on the World Cup starting there in two weeks’ time is the weather, then people should sit up and take notice.
Gibson gathered with his Proteas squad in Cape Town on Monday and they will be heading up to Pretoria today to complete their preparations at the Centre of Excellence. And he said they would have to train for various eventualities.
“England can be interesting in one-day cricket, it depends on the weather, which plays a huge part. I have seen they’ve forecast a hot spell for the next couple of months so maybe the pitches will be drier. But conditions will play a huge part in the outcome of the tournament. That’s why I prefer this round-robin format because you can have a game rained out or maybe even a couple of games.
“But it’s good to have our history – I’ve had two stints with England and I live there, assistant coaches Claude Henderson and Dale Benkenstein both played county cricket for 10 years, so we have insight on the conditions. A lot of the guys have also played there, like Aiden Markram recently, and he led a discussion on Monday night about conditions,” Gibson said.
He said he was confident Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn will be up and running by the time they get to England. He added that he is not going to stand for any questions about the 1999 tournament, when a calamitous, infamous run out saw South Africa tie their semi-final against Australia, who went through based on a superior run-rate in the Super Sixes stage.
“We’ve decided as a team that we’re not going to speak about 1999, so I would like it if you did not ask questions about it. Every year someone brings it up, but seven or eight of these guys have never been in that situation before. This is a fresh start for us and we are speaking the same language we’ve used for the last 18 months, it’s a positive message all the time,” said Gibson.
“We’re also not putting too much emphasis on it being a World Cup, we just want to play the same cricket as we did against Sri Lanka and Pakistan. We feel KG and Dale are on track and people should not be alarmed. We feel they’ll recover fully in time for the first warm-up match.”