Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here

Home > Features >

South Africa need to smash mental barriers in their preparation for 2015 World Cup

South Africa need to smash mental barriers in their preparation for the 2015 World Cup

No team in the world will discount South Africa, but it’s all about coming good when it matters most © Getty Images

By Devarchit Varma

The label of ‘chokers’ continues to haunt South Africa as they failed yet again in the final moments of the home stretch — this time in the ongoing ICC Champions Trophy 2013. Abraham de Villiers, their captain in the shorter formats, had spoken openly about the need to get rid of the appendage when he took up the job — a tag that has shamed a nation of exceptional talent.

Outgoing coach Gary Kirsten admitted being clueless on how to bring an end to this menace. He said, the South Africans will need “real charisma, real guts and glory to get over the line”. But who will do it for them, if not the likes of Hashim Amla, de Villiers, JP Duminy, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, or any from the upcoming batch?

Almost a year ago, under Kirsten’s watchful eye and acute planning, South Africa embarked on a rigorous journey, beginning with conquering the Swiss Alps with Allan Donald, Paddy Upton, and explorer Mike Horn in a three-day camp before heading to England and snatching the ICC Test Championship Mace. The idea was to gain mental strength through physical work to start with. South Africa achieved the feat of beating a strong English outfit. Was anything similar done with regard for their one-day assignments?

Perhaps, the early signs of struggle in the 50-over format came in the One-Day International (ODI) followed the Tests in England. South Africa drew the ODI and T20 series and returned home as a happy bunch, having won the most coveted award in world cricket — the No 1 Test team in the world.

South Africans continued to ignore the areas they needed to improve upon in the format, when they lost 1-2 to lowly New Zealand in the ODI series that followed the Tests. Though they surged in Test cricket as the top-ranked nation, they continued to flounder the in one-day format, which damaged their morale ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy 2013.

It is not that South Africa missed Jacques Kallis in the tournament, or were hurt by Steyn and Morne’s absence at crucial stages. The 37-year-old Kallis has served South African cricket for long and South Africa has to reconcile that Kallis won’t be there for long. History is replete with examples of great teams having powerful bench strength. That, obviously, is not the case with South Africa. It’s never easy to fill in the void of giants like Kallis, but it’s a painful process that every team has to accept. The trick lies in how quickly meaningful replacements could be found.

Lessons to learn from India

The Indian team is a good example. It was unthinkable how replacements for the batsmen of the calibre of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman could be found. But the Indians have not only done well to find meaningful replacements in Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, but have also many more talented in the bench like Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Manoj Tiwary. Indeed, the team went through unprecedented upheavals following the high of the 2011 World Cup triumph, but today they are just one victory away from winning the Champions Trophy. And there is no Virender Sehwag, no Gautam Gambhir, no Sachin Tendulkar, no Yuvraj Singh, no Harbhajan Singh and a few more who powered the team in the quadrennial showpiece of ODI cricket. The above named have been the titans of India’s glory years, yet the Indian bounce back has been quick. And let it not be forgotten that the team landed in England feeling the heat of the raging fire of the Indian Premier League (IPL) spot-fixing controversy, forcing them to be cocoon themselves from the media onslaught. It has been champions stuff from the Indian team thus far in England, and having a monk-like leader in MS Dhoni has greatly helped the Indian cause.

AB de Villiers’s majestic form in the IPL 2013 looked a thing of distant past, while Duminy’s form faded away quickly after good knocks before the main tournament. Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Rory Kleinveldt and Ryan McLaren aren’t as lethal as Steyn, Morne and Vernon Philander together. The build-up and conditioning for any tournament overseas are critical. South Africa played a practice game each between three Tests against England last year, while before the Champions Trophy 2013, they played one-off ODI against Netherlands, and a warm-up game against Pakistan which they lost.

The ICC World Cup 2015 is almost two years away. India and England have already begun putting plans in action. For South Africa, time is running out fast. They need to find momentum under new coach Russell Domingo, and get back on the track. No team in the world will discount South Africa, but it’s all about coming good when it matters most. And with every loss they suffer at critical junctures of major tournaments, the ‘chocker’ tag gets embedded deeper in their psyche. Yes, it’s a question of mind over matter.

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 24, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Sharjah

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 25, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Dubai

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 25, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Dubai

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 26, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 26, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

More

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 23, 2014  at Dubai

Chennai Super Kings won by 7 runs

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 22, 2014  at Sharjah

Kings XI Punjab won by 72 runs

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 21, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Chennai Super Kings won by 93 runs

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 20, 2014  at Sharjah

Kings XI Punjab won by 7 wkts

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 19, 2014  at Dubai

Delhi Daredevils won by 4 wkts

Photos

CSK vs DD, IPL 2014 Match 8 at Abu Dhabi

Videos

IPL: Tanmay Mishra talks shows the contents of his kit

IPL 2013: Chris Gayle’s monumental 175 against Pune Warriors India

Who else but Shakespeare on the World Book and Copyright Day?

IPL 2013: Shane Watson’s scintillating century against Chennai Super Kings goes in vain

John Small — The first man to use a straight bat

IPL 2014: Dwayne Bravo’s absence a major blow for Chennai Super Kings

Chennai Super Kings Delhi Daredevils Glenn Maxwell India IPL IPL 7 IPL 2014 Kings XI Punjab KXIP vs SRH KXIP vs SRH 2014 MS Dhoni Rajasthan Royals RR vs CSK 2014 Sanju Samson Sunrisers Hyderabad

Sachin Tendulkar turns 41, celebrating birthday away from cricket field

IPL 2014 set to break all records

Saleem Malik hits out at PCB for not reviewing his life ban

IPL 2014: Ravindra Jadeja says he enjoys bowling after Chennai’s win over Rajasthan

David Miller believes three consecutive wins in IPL 2014 ‘phenomenal’ for Kings XI Punjab

Why was it always Sachin Tendulkar versus someone else?

Why Yorkshire was the ideal county for Tendulkar in the Championship

Sachin Tendulkar — the greatest batsman of India

Sachin Tendulkar: Five forgotten gems

Sachin Tendulkar: A timeless fairytale

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

622 Posts | 7 Fans

Video Highlights: Virat Kohli's 77 during India vs Sri Lanka ICC World T20 2014 final at Dhaka

Google Street View now lets users go back in time

Is Cameron Diaz planning holiday for Gwyneth Paltrow?

Apple Q2 2014 earnings: 43.7 million iPhones, 16.3 million iPads sold

Sonakshi Sinha beats Akshay Kumar in basketball – Watch video!

Sachin Tendulkar turns 41, celebrating birthday away from cricket field

Sachin Tendulkar: Five forgotten gems

Also on cricketcountry.com