Donald says South Africa ready for World Cup opener

Hamilton, PTI | Updated : 14 February 2015, 04:47 PM

South Africa great Allan Donald, infamous for his run out against Australia in the 1999 World Cup semi-final, said today the Proteas were excited ahead of their 2015 opener.

The 48-year-old, a renowned fast bowler whose speed saw him nicknamed “White Lightning”, is now helping South Africa’s seamers as the squad’s bowling coach.

“I remember getting on the bus at Christchurch and AB (de Villiers, the South Africa captain) just said ‘now is the time to lock in’,” said Donald, who took 330 Test and 272 one-day wickets in his illustrious career.

“Everyone is excited, especially arriving at the ground for this training session today,” he added ahead of the Proteas’ all-African Pool B clash with Zimbabwe here tomorrow.

“We know it is right on the doorstep now and we are very eager to get on with it.”

Donald was a key figure in one of South Africa’s worst World Cup moments 16 years ago.

Needing a single to win the semi-final with Australia, Lance Klusener hit Damien Fleming to mid-off and set off only to see Donald initially turning his back and later running but failing to make the crease.

That earned South Africa the tag of “chokers”—failing at crucial junctures in international events—a stigma which skipper de Villiers said they wanted to shrug off at this World Cup.

And Donald believes the title contenders won’t lack for preparation against Zimbabwe.

“We did some homework, had good meetings over the last couple of days, especially this morning strategizing around that,” Donald said.

“That was a good little exercise in Zimbabwe; we know we are going to face a lot of spin, they base their cricket around that. They have some dangerous players like (Sean) Williams and (Hamilton) Masakadza to name a few.

“That’s really what we expect from Zimbabwe, tough and gritty, they find a way. They are a team that never sort of goes away.”

Zimbabwe’s warm-up form during which they shocked formidable Sri Lanka and reduced New Zealand to 157 for seven in a rained-off match, certainly made their World Cup rivals sit up and take notice.

Donald emphasised bowlers needed to take early wickets in the tight confines of Seddon Park.

“This ground in particular is very small,” said Donald.  “A lot of sides have won here chasing quite comfortably. That is why we have the emphasis on the first 10 overs. We have to hit Zimbabwe hard if we bowl second.”

South Africa are waiting on the fitness of all-rounder Farhaan Behardien who has a tight lower back injury sustained earlier in the week.

First Published: Saturday, February 14, 2015 04:40 PM
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