Farhaan Behardien: South Africa rates Ireland highly

South African Farhaan Behardien reflects on his team’s World Cup match against Ireland on Tuesday(ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Full coverage)

Q: How has the preparation gone this week? It’s a bit of a short break between the games.

Farhaan Behardien: The preparation has gone really well. Settling into Canberra quite nicely. I think we like the fact that it’s a bit quiet, not a lot of hype. I think we like it that way, and our families are still with us, so preparation has gone really well. Yeah, looking forward to tomorrow.

Q: What do you think of Ireland’s side? Obviously they’re a side that’s been talked about given their big upset against the West Indies, but how highly do you rate them as a side?
We rate them quite highly. We’re not taking them lightly. They’ve played two and won two, and I don’t think we would have taken anybody lightly in this particular tournament. Every game is a big game, so yeah, we’ve picked really well. We’ve done some good analysis on them, and we’ll be giving it our all tomorrow and against anybody that we do face. So yeah, looking forward to it.

Q: This morning Faf Du Plessis and Dale Steyn tweeted pictures of a big mountain fire encroaching upon their homes. Is that going to play much of a role on their mental preparation going into this game?

FB: I don’t think so, no. They’ve got people looking after that back in Cape Town, their agents, their people that’s close to them. It’s uncontrollable. It’s something that they didn’t plan or foresee. It’s just one of those things. World Cup is quite important. It’s actually very important. Of course it does affect you in some sort of way, but we have quite a strong support structure around us, the people and the friends and the family that’s here. If there’s any opportunity to help them out or to be a comfort shoulder or whatever, we’ll do so, but I don’t foresee it being a problem at all.

Q: You haven’t been one of the regular starters in recent times. How do you prepare yourself mentally when you’re most of the time expected to step in for somebody else?

FB: It’s been coming a long time, 20 years. I’ve been prepping for this since I was a little boy. So for me to be a part of this particular team, one of the greatest teams, some of the best players, to bat the other night with AB at the SCG was goose bumps. To keep me fresh and what motivates me is just another opportunity to play for my country. Like I said, I’ve been prepping for 20 years for this one, since I was a little boy, so that keeps me motivated, and that keeps me going, keeps me determined, and somewhere along the line if my opportunity comes to perform, I’ll try my utmost best, and that’s all that I’ve entrusted with.

Q: The other night at the SCG we saw three changes in the South African squad. Everyone stepped up in the occasion. Do you feel that in this tournament South Africa has one of the best benches, and do you feel in this tournament the team that has the best bench will ultimately go on and progress further?

 I think that’s been an emphasis over the last six months or so. We played against the West Indies in South Africa, and the fact that our bench was so strong. Rilee, what a wonderful play! He came in and scored two hundreds in South Africa against the West Indies when he was on the bench, Parnell was on the bench against West Indies, picked up four wickets in the last ODI, and similarly Aaron Phangiso is waiting in the wings, and when he steps up to the plate, he’ll be asked to do a job, and like I said, we’ve been preparing really well, and when there’s a lot of emphasis going into the squad of 15, it’s not just the 11, so the squad of 15 is vitally important to our cause, and going forward, you never know there might be an injury or somebody might pick up a stomach bug or whatever. The emphasis is on the 15 instead of 11.

Q: Obviously there’s been a few tremendous batting performances, and AB has been one of them, but can you just talk about, do you see him perhaps as a level above those other guys and just the form he was in the other night? Where would you bowl to him? Is he a level above everyone else at the moment?

FB: In my opinion, I think he is a level above most batters. I think a lot of batters can replicate what he does. I think Brandon McCullum is one of them, Chris Gayle, you seen he scored a double the other night. I wouldn’t want to be in the bowling analysis meeting when trying to plan for AB de Villiers. I’m glad he’s on my side. But personally I do think he’s a level above, and he’s taking the game forward and he’s done it on two occasions now. He’s raised the bar, and the fastest 150, the fastest 100. It’s something I aspire to. Like I said, I had goose bumps the other night batting with him at the ACG, and just a proud feeling to have him there with me.

Q: Relating to that, when you see him play like that, what’s the talk amongst the dressing room? What are you saying about his talent as players?

FB: It’s overwhelming. It’s bewilderment. It’s all of the above. It’s just jaw-dropping stuff. We saw him in Johannesburg when he got the fastest hundred, and we couldn’t believe what we were seeing. Jo’burg is on the high side, so the ball travels a bit further there, and that’s generally a record-breaking ground, but SCG, it’s at sea level, and I don’t know, I’m at a loss for words. Yeah, we’re all in awe when we see him bat like that, and like I said, I had the best seat in the house for those 12 balls. I think the crowd booed me when I got two the other night. Luckily I hit the next ball for six. Yeah, when I ran two, the crowd booed me. My friends back home, they actually made a joke, and they just sent me a message in like a video of the actual ball, and we just had a good chuckle about it.

Q: And I guess given AB’s form and obviously the Manuka pitch is a batsman’s paradise, does that in turn make it, I guess, potentially a nightmare for the bowlers out here tomorrow?

FB: It does potentially, but we’ve still got to stick to our processes. Like I said earlier, we’re not underestimating Ireland at any cost. We have our practices in plan, and if the game unfolds the way it should do and we bat deep and we have wickets in hand towards the back end, I think that’s the way we set it up, and I think that’s the way most teams set it up. Really if we have wickets in the back end, I think between 35 and 50 overs we’ve seen in this tournament, there’s scores in excess of 300. India, when we played against India, they had 30 overs and had a par score but they just exploded in the last 10 overs. We’re going to have to bat well. Hash and Quinny and Faf are going to have to set the game like they did against the West Indies. We were in a bit of trouble, and Faf and Hash batted well between 20 and 30. We lost a couple of wickets, but it just allowed AB and Rilee and the fact that we play seven batters and the fact that most teams are playing seven batters, it just gives them that extra bit of freedom to explode at the back end, and I think that’s a bit of a trend in this particular World Cup.

Q: As you inch closer to the knockout stages? Is there talk in the dressing room about the likely opposition that you want to play in the quarterfinals, considering whatever has happened in the past World Cups?

FB: I think we’d be foolish not to have a look at the other pool and to kind of glance and to kind of prep a little bit accordingly. We still have got three very important games in this particular group, Ireland, Pakistan, the UAE, two games in New Zealand, one game in Canberra. We’ve got our eye on the other group, but we’re quietly confident about playing any of the opposition. We know once you get to the quarters, semis and finals, you’re going to have to play three strong games, and we’ve still got three strong games to go against Ireland, Pakistan and the UAE. So every game we’re taking step by step, and it’s vitally important that we keep our momentum that we built a little bit up against the West Indies. Ireland has won two out of two, and it’s their third game, so we’re looking to stamp our authority and make it three wins from four games come tomorrow.

Q: What do you remember and what did you learn from the game here in November against Australia about the pitch and the ground?

FB: Australia started really slowly. They got 300,  if memory serves me correctly, they got about 350 in the game against us. Steve Smith batted unbelievably well. He was in a purple patch, and he took his time. He ran loads of twos. I know Mitch Marsh gave a better impetus towards the back end, and like I’ve mentioned, one of the guys talked about AB at the back end, and we have to set up a base. I think that’s key, batting first. I think at night the ball tends to skid on a little bit more, which would bring our fast bowlers into contention. So the wicket during the day might be a bit slower from what we’ve picked up, but with that base and seven or eight batters, I think we can post a good score batting first if we do bat first. But yeah, the dimensions of the field is quite big. I think we were speaking to one of the groundsmen that it’s quite close to Melbourne like size-wise. So lots of twos, putting the fielders under pressure, I think that’s key and gaining momentum from that like Steve Smith did, and then in that last five overs I think they got like 60 or 70 runs, and it kind of just put us under massive pressure.

Q: You were talking before about liking Canberra and being away from the hype. Understand if you’re going to go deep in the tournament you’re going to have to reengage with that?

FB: Yeah, definitely. I think just for now, like I say, we’re taking it game by game, and we were in New Zealand beforehand, and while we’re over here the bubble or the group of people that we do have, including management, we’re keeping each other focused and moving towards one goal, which is the 29th of March. I think if we keep that in sight, the rest of the stuff will take care of itself.

Q: Back home you’re a primary batsman for the Titans, yet you’re a bowler in this side. Do you feel that these contributions within you to come with the bat, which maybe international view is another way?

FB: Look, it’s kind of tough. I mean, they’ve asked me not being too much of a regular, not getting too much opportunity, but I think it’s a testimony to our strong top six. I batted seven in this particular side, bowled a few overs. Somewhere along the line there’s a feeling within the team and there’s a feeling within myself that I’m going to have to step up to the plate, and when that opportunity arises, hopefully I’ll be ready. Like I said, I’ve been prepping for this for a long time, for 20 years, and if it doesn’t happen on the day, it’s not the end of the world. I’ve tried my best. The fact that I’m here playing in a World Cup for my country is something so special and something so dear to me that memory will keep me in good stead forever. When the opportunity arises, hopefully I can step up and perform admirably when my team needs me to.

Q: You said AB is a step above and he’s got all these records. Is there a chance we could see him break some more recordstomorrow?

FB: He’s the first to kind of shy away from it. He doesn’t want that acknowledgment, the fact that he’s breaking all these records and stuff. He and every player in our side would take a duck as long as the team wins, as long as the team comes first. Look, whatever happens tomorrow, I’m sure he’ll just be happy with a team win, and I’m sure we all would be, and whoever gets that record with it, whether it be Hash, whether it be Faf, Quinny, myself, whoever, whether it be a bowling record or not, it’s all for the team, and I think that’s what’s kept us in good stead over the last 10 to 12 months, and hopefully it’ll keep us in good stead come the latter stages of the tournament.

Q: You spoke about AB de Villiers and glad that he’s on your team. 100 ODI caps for Dale Steyn tomorrow. How glad are you that he’s on your team and that you don’t have to front up to him?

FB: I faced him a few times in the domestic scene, and it’s not fun facing Dale Steyn when he’s at full tilt. We all know what a wonderful performer he’s been over the years; 10 years, No. 1 Test bowler. He’s performed admirably in the one-day circuit, T20s. His fire and his energy that he does bring to the bowling unit is awesome. He started brilliantly against the West Indies, started brilliantly against India, as well. We were looking to him to start the innings off well, whether it be first chance or opening the bowling, whichever way they want to use him tomorrow. Hundred caps is a wonderful achievement, something I aspire to, something most cricketers aspire to, 100 caps playing for your country. That’s a massively proud moment. I think we look back on tomorrow’s game and we’ll try and celebrate his 100th game with a win, and yeah, we’ll be fighting tooth and nail come tomorrow.

Courtesy: ICC