• Gibson positive despite Steyn setback

    Proteas coach Ottis Gibson is prepared for what England’s powerful batting lineup has to offer in Thursday’s World Cup opener at the Oval even if he can’t call on Dale Steyn, writes DANIEL GALLAN in London.

    Gibson was addressing the media on Tuesday when he broke the news that Steyn would not be fit enough to take part in Thursday’s World Cup curtain-raiser against England.

    The 35-year-old had been bowling from a shortened run in training all week but has yet to fully recover from a shoulder injury that forced him to return home early from the IPL.

    OPINION: Why Thursday matters more than you think

    Without his most senior strike bowler, Gibson fielded questions concerning the make up of his eleven for Thursday’s encounter at the Oval. His opponents have earned their favourites tag afforded to them by the bookies and have built a formidable batting lineup capable of decimating any attack.

    Despite the daunting task facing his bowlers, Gibson was still confident he had the personnel to deal with the threat.

    ‘I’m very happy with the attack we have,’ said Gibson.

    ‘One of our extra all-rounders [Dwaine Pretorius and Chris Morris] might come in the mix or we might go with Tabraiz Shamsi [as an extra spinner]. The wicket had a bit of grass on it this morning but that may change. We’ll decide on our team closer to the time.

    ‘We know [England] are going to be aggressive. They are going to play good shots but they are also going to give us chances. We have a plan for every batsman but that plan is only as good as the execution.’

    Gibson emphasised the need to play brave cricket against such an explosive lineup but was quick to downplay the importance of  Thursday’s result. 

    ‘Irrespective of what happens in this game, it doesn’t matter. It will give us a really good sense of where we are but the nature of the competition means that even if we are not in the conversation early on we still have a chance of being in the mix towards the latter stages.

    ‘We just have to turn up [on Thursday] and play our best. If it’s not good enough, it’s not good enough.’

    – Daniel Gallan is a freelance cricket writer, follow him on Twitter: @danielgallan

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    Wade Pretorius