They’re co-hosts of the World Cup and, let it be noted, Australia is a difficult place to tour.
You are pretty much on your own there. You are playing their country, and the fans and players certainly let it be known that they are not on your side. You have to be a well-knit bunch and have a good spirit, confidence and be positive to overcome the opposition and the crowds.
South Africa will have to be a confident squad in a relatively foreign land – and it will have to start from AB de Villiers and filter through the squad.
What is going to be nice to see some more of is the bigger outfields in Australia. A lot of batsmen are getting caught short of the boundary. You have to hit a really good shot to get it over the ropes. Compared to some of the hitting on the smaller fields on the subcontinent and other places, in Australia you really have to get it right to beat the fielder.
I will also enjoy seeing the extra pace and the extra bounce that Australian wickets offer. You don’t want to see bowlers getting knocked all over the place in a format that favours batsmen. Spinners come into play more, too, which brings an intriguing dynamic to the game.
South Africa’s fielding was sloppy in November’s series loss to the Aussies and we have to correct that. Some of the tall bowlers are not good fielders, which can cost up to 20 runs, and that can be the difference between a win and a loss – especially at a World Cup. Extras-wise, it can be a losing game. Wides, no-balls, overthrows and misfields simply cannot creep in. If South Africa cut those out and get the basics right, they will win more games and perhaps take home the World Cup title.
In the batting department, the powerplays are an area of concern. The Proteas, traditionally, have not been good at exploiting these. There will be no second chances through the latter stages of the World Cup. The opportunity given to score extra runs in that section of the game cannot be wasted.
The approach to the batting powerplay cannot be all or nothing, instead it must be a case of upping the tempo a little bit by taking advantage of the limited field placements. The batsmen must not go made about it, losing vital wickets in the process.
I’d also like to see us be more like the reigning World Cup champions, India. Unlike the Indians, who don’t panic when they lose a few wickets, we can look good at the start but falter when one or two key guys get out. We then lose two or three more wickets and are suddenly in a lot of trouble.
The mentality in the middle order has to be strong – the batsmen need to gel, sticking together through the pressure situations and cash in when the time is right. This is such a vital part of our hopes at the World Cup.