/ 28 August 2007

Much to do ahead of Twenty20 Cup

There is a serious amount of work to be done before the International Cricket Council Twenty20 World Cup tournament, which starts on September 11, says South African cricket coach Mickey Arthur.

Speaking on Monday, after the Proteas’ return from their 3-0 one-day international (ODI) series victory over Zimbabwe, Arthur said bowling and fielding were causes for concern, although he was happy with the team’s batting in Zimbabwe.

”The tour of Zimbabwe came at the right time,” said Arthur. ”We took most of our Twenty20 team, and we were able to see what areas needed work. This is a very young and inexperienced side, and I think some of them were shocked by the difference between franchise cricket and international cricket.

”We need to do a lot of work on the bowling, which was definitely off the pace, and we also need to work on fielding techniques. The bowlers know they weren’t up to standard, and they will be working hard on getting things right.”

Arthur revealed that the team will be gathering earlier than originally planned, to give him time to work on areas of concern. The team will get together on Thursday instead of Saturday, and the two extra days will be used to focus on fitness and fielding techniques.

On a more positive note, Arthur said he had been very pleased with the team’s batting.

”Graeme Smith looked as if he had never been away, Herschelle [Gibbs] batted as well as I have seen him in his one innings in Zimbabwe, and AB de Villiers came through very well. I told him that with 50 ODIs under his belt, he was no longer one of the new boys and should see himself as a senior member of the team.

”He responded beautifully, and I think we will probably keep him at number four in future ODIs.”

He said a final decision on the fitness of Loots Bosman, who was injured when he crashed into the boundary boards while trying to take a catch, will be taken on Thursday.

”By then we will know all the facts, and will be able to decide what to do. I want him to be fit to play in the first warm-up match — I don’t want to go into a two-week tournament with an injured player. If they can’t get him ready for the first warm-up, we will probably have to call up a replacement batsman.”

Arthur said the South African collapse on Sunday, after an outstanding start, had shown the value of the traditional ”finishers” such as Justin Kemp and Mark Boucher.

”We have always relied on them to get us out of trouble, and this time they weren’t there. Zimbabwe put the boys under pressure, and the inexperience of the newer players showed. They will have learnt a great deal — you can talk as much as you like about how much tougher it is at international level, but until you experience it, you don’t know. The boys will have learnt a lot.”

He singled out Morne Morkel for special praise, saying the Titans player will play an important role in South African cricket for some time to come. — Sapa