Home Sport Cricket High pressure games on difficult pitches have set Proteas up well says...

High pressure games on difficult pitches have set Proteas up well says Klaasen

198

During the last week and a bit in New York City, the Proteas made crucial deposits in their own memory banks as they got through three tight games against Sri Lanka, the Netherlands and Bangladesh.

Heinrich Klaasen (right) and David Miller of South Africa celebrate following the ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup West Indies & USA 2024 match against Sri Lanka at Nassau County International Cricket Stadium on June 03, 2024 in New York. Picture: Robert Cianflone, Getty Images via AFP

BIG-MATCH temperament is a unique trait that any World Cup-winning team possesses, across all sporting codes.

Regardless of form, player pedigree and talent, when it’s time to deliver, World Cup-winning teams tend to have enough memories in the bank to draw strength from to get them over the line in crunch games against teams that have form, the current best players in the world and momentum on their side.

During the last week and a bit in New York City, the Proteas made crucial deposits in their own memory banks as they got through three tight games against Sri Lanka, the Netherlands and Bangladesh.

Yes, all three games were group stage fixtures, but each game carried the same aura and pressure one would expect to find in World Cup knockout games. And in each of those games, the Proteas came out on top.

“You can put it in the notebook and go back when the tough times are there again,” Proteas middle-order batter Heinrich Klaasen said.

“We’ve dealt with pressure very well in these three games and it’s always (a) good experience.

“It (was) tight competition, it (brought) teams very close to each other so the games (were) open.”

What makes these victories a little sweeter is how the side made no excuses and instead found ways to get over the line despite the highly publicised conditions at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium.

The uneven bounce was almost intolerable and the sluggish outfield made for an even more painful watch as teams struggled to reach 120, a total normally regarded as mediocre.

However, South Africa’s batters found ways to put together enough scores to get over the line by adapting their plans to the conditions and playing smart cricket.

First it was David Miller’s half-century against the Dutch and then Klaasen’s patient 46 against Bangladesh that set the Proteas batting unit apart from the rest and put the side into the Super 8 stage of the showpiece event.

“David showed us how to bat on this wicket. So, our mindset (was) not even close to T20 cricket – we just (wanted) to get in, find a way to bat (at) a run-a-ball and you know you’re one or two hits away (from) going over a run-a-ball strike rate,” said Klaasen.

“We saw that India and Pakistan, two great teams, struggled to get to 120. So, that means we (had) to change our mindset completely. You can’t just try smack it all over the park.”

South Africa might have been given a tougher route to the Super 8 stage of the competition because of the tough conditions in New York, but now all that seems to have played perfectly into the hands of coach Rob Walter’s team.

Given that the Caribbean will not be a major upgrade in terms of conditions, South Africa look set to reap the rewards of the high-pressure games in the first phase of the tournament.

“There (were) no easy games for us, especially in our group. But it’s part of the game, you still have to win the games,” said Klaasen.

“It doesn’t look like the Caribbean wickets are too much better so we have to play smart cricket. We’ve done our job. The goal was to win three out of three here. Obviously it was a little bit harder than we thought but it’s also good preparation for the next phase.”

The Proteas travelled to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines after their victory over Bangladesh on Monday and are set to take on Nepal on Saturday to conclude the group stages.

Previous articleI have work to do on the last 100, says Wayde after Kirani contest
Next articleUS to widen sanctions on sale of semiconductor chips to Russia, sources say