Heavyweight hitters Jacques Kallis and Matthew Hayden kicked off the mind games ahead of Australia and South Africa’s potentially explosive World Cup semifinal on Wednesday.
Kallis is one of four South African survivors from the dramatic tied semifinal against Australia at the 1999 World Cup in Birmingham, together with former captain Shaun Pollock, wicketkeeper Mark Boucher and batsman Herschelle Gibbs.
All four insist that the experience of playing in what at the time was rated the greatest one-day game of all time will have positive benefits in Wednesday’s clash at Beausejour.
But Hayden, the 2007 tournament’s most prolific run maker with 580 to his name at an average of 82,85, as well as three centuries, is not convinced and believes that Graeme Smith’s Proteas are frightened by the defending champions.
”We gained a lot of experience in that 1999 game,” said Kallis, who made 53 in that famous semifinal.
”Looking back there are a few things that we might have tried to do differently so the experience we’ve carried around for all these years will probably stand us in good stead,” added the veteran, who has 480 runs in the Caribbean at an average of 96.
That 1999 tournament had also seen Australia prevail over South Africa by five wickets in a group game in Leeds where Gibbs made 101 before dropping a catch off Steve Waugh, who went on to make a match-winning 120.
The parallels with in 2007 are staggering.
Just as eight years ago, Australia have already beaten South Africa in a group game, triumphing by 83 runs in St Kitts on March 24.
Hayden smashed the World Cup’s fastest-ever century in that game, making 101 off 68 balls as Australia piled up 377-6.
South Africa were then bowled out for 294 for an 83-run defeat despite Smith and AB de Villiers giving them a flying start with a 160-run opening stand.
Hayden believes Australia, who have never lost a Test series to South Africa since the Proteas’ return to international cricket in 1992, have the mental edge.
”Last time we played better than them and you could tell by the looks on their faces they were intimidated by us,” Hayden said in Australia’s Sunday Mail newspaper.
”It is an edge which came from many years of beating them. It was just body language. You could feel that they could feel it.”
Gibbs says there is no pressure on the South Africans who squeezed into the semifinals thanks to a nine-wicket win over England after their campaign had almost been derailed by a shock defeat to Bangladesh.
”Our backs were against the wall (before the game against England]. Now we’re just going to go out there and enjoy it.” — Sapa-AFP