SA cricket coach hears no alarm bells

South Africa coach Mickey Arthur managed to find positives in his side’s shaky start against Ireland in a Cricket World Cup warm-up match.

Arthur said South Africa’s 36-run win had no bearing on the tournament proper, which his side enter as the world’s top-ranked one-day team.

”There’s no alarm bells,” Arthur said. ”We’re looking to peak at the right time, and the minute our batters start hitting some really good form, we’ll be fine.”

An abject top-order batting display — South Africa was 91 for eight — was salvaged by all-rounder Andrew Hall, who scored an innings-saving 67 not out and then took three wickets.

Arthur said his side were rusty as they had barely played since finishing their home series against Pakistan last month.

”You can see the guys haven’t had a proper hit out now for maybe two weeks, but also, we want to go slow into the tournament,” he said. ”We don’t want to be continually hitting the grindstone day in and day out. We want to peak at the right time, and I’m confident we have the ability to do that.”

South Africa cancelled practice on Tuesday, but were scheduled for a net session on Wednesday. They play Pakistan in their final warm-up game on Friday, also at the Sir Frank Worrell ground.

Arthur was confident of a better showing against Pakistan.

”It’s a change of environment, a change of condition, and they’ll pick their form up when they need to,” he said. ”I thought our fielding was off the high standards we set ourselves and, again, I lay that down partly to a pretty tough fitness regime that we’ve put the guys on the last couple of days. I think their legs were a little bit heavy.”

Arthur said the bowlers had been impressive. Charl Langeveldt took 4-31, Hall finished with 3-26 and Andre Nel had figures of 2-38.

”From that point of view, I’m glad our bowling unit was tested and, as a unit, they did the business,” he said. ”Perhaps, had we batted to our ability, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to bowl and play under the pressure we were.”

Arthur was also impressed by Hall, who has often struggled to make the starting XI.

”He’s in the same era as two great all-rounders in Shaun Pollock and Jacques Kallis, so, unfortunately for Andrew, that’s why he probably hasn’t played as much as he should have for South Africa,” he said ”He’s just proved what a valuable member he is of our World Cup squad.”

South Africa open their World Cup campaign against The Netherlands on March 16 on St Kitts. They also play Scotland and defending champions Australia. — Sapa-AP

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