• Smith, Swann differ on Ireland threat

    While Graeme Smith doesn’t foresee Ireland giving South Africa any problems at the World Cup, former England spinner Graeme Swann disagrees.

    South Africa face Ireland in Canberra on Tuesday, who have won both their matches, against the West Indies and the UAE.

    The Irish have a reputation at World Cups for knocking big teams over, but Smith, writing for the ICC, doesn’t expect an upset on Tuesday.

    ‘I don’t foresee either Ireland or the UAE causing too many problems. I am certain the entire squad will be given an opportunity to play over these two games also allowing for key players to rest, said Smith.

    ‘The win [against West Indies] would have definitely settled the nerves of a few of the squad members and also released the pressure valve somewhat. This, in turn, will help them embrace the tournament and all that it has to offer. A crucial ingredient at succeeding on any tour is to immerse oneself in and soak up the culture of the country.

    ‘This provides a welcome break from the intensity of playing and allows one to truly appreciate the opportunity, tour and tournament.’

    Smith said South Africa adopts a horses-for-courses approach based on the conditions and the opposition.

    Swann, however, thinks Ireland, who face Zimbabwe four days later, can cause an upset and surprise South Africa.

    ‘Ireland are in a very enviable position. I’m sure a lot of teams would like to be where they are,’ Swann told RTÉ Sport’s John Kenny in Brisbane.

    ‘If I were Ireland, I wouldn’t be targeting the Zimbabwe game. I’d be targeting South Africa.

    ‘South Africa have come off a very heavy defeat to India. . .Ireland have shown they can chase 280 or 300.

    ‘If South Africa don’t put on a good batting display, if AB De Villiers isn’t in the sort of knick that he has been before, and they only manage 250 or 260, Ireland should say that ‘If we win this game we’re in the quarter-finals’.’

    It must be noted that Swann made these comments before the Proteas thrashed the West Indies last Friday.