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Batters must step up

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'I feel like they've battled well, but they haven't battled long enogh," says Proteas batting coach

SA skipper Faf Du Plessis works on his form during net practice in Southampton recently. Picture: Gavin Barker BackpagePix

Having now left the city from where the ill-fated Titanic set sail, South Africa will hope their World Cup hopes have not completely sunk yet.

The Proteas arrived in the Welsh capital Cardiff yesterday with a measly one point from four games. The fact that that precious solitary point was acquired only due to a washout against the Windies cannot be discounted either.

South Africa simply have to improve immediately, and batting coach Dale Benkenstein knows where this process must begin.

“The batters have to step up, and we haven’t at the moment. I feel like they’ve batted well, but they haven’t batted long enough,” he said.

“Everyone has got in and we’ve had opportunities to gets 100s and 100-partnerships to win games, but we’ve just got out.

“To me, it’s just a mental thing. It’s a hunger. When you’re out in the middle and get to 30 or 40, then you think you’re in.

“When you’re in and dominating, you have to try and really make the most of it and I think sometimes we don’t get that balance right. We often try and accelerate a bit fast rather than getting our heads down and keeping it ticking over for a bit longer with the batters getting us more to the end of the game.”

The approach heading into this World Cup was that South Africa were looking to enjoy the experience, have some fun, and not allow the pressures associated with the tournament to affect them.

But Benkenstein, who was part of the 1999 Proteas’ squad that slipped up dramatically at the semi-final stage against Australia, believes South Africa’s World Cup baggage goes with them everywhere.

“Confidence as batters is huge in a World Cup. They do feel the extra pressure,” he said.

A bit nervous

“Our history doesn’t help and we’re trying to deal with it. The guys have been a bit nervous and I think that has shown.

“At the moment everything is pretty simple. We have to go and win every game and it’s not a bad position to be in. Mentally, we know what we have to and now we have to go and do it.”

Getting the combinations right has also been a problem for South Africa thus far. Every match the batting line-up has been tinkered with, and the batsmen that were picked for the Windies clash, before it was abandoned, could do with a vote of trust for the Afghanistan day-night tie on Saturday.