December 24, 2009

England in South Africa 2009-10

Steyn should play

Nitin Sundar

Barry Richards believes that the discussions over Dale Steyn’s fitness and availablilty for the Durban Test are all part of mind-games in the lead-up to the match. Writing in the Telegraph, Richards adds that the hosts have the ascendancy going into Boxing Day and can further their cause by picking Steyn ahead of Makhaya Ntini.

When the South Africans say Steyn is doubtful for Kingsmead, it might be part of these mind games that are going on now. It is difficult for players really to analyse an opponent until they know he is definitely going to play.

South Africa have to make a decision about Makhaya Ntini. He has been such a wonderful servant, and needs to be respected for the 100 Tests he has played, but he has lost a little of his nip. My information is that he will play the second Test because he is so good against left-handers Strauss and Cook with the new ball. After that, though, I don't think the selectors would mind if he saved them the trouble of whispering in his ear.

Duncan Fletcher hopes that Alastair Cook can deliver the goods in Durban. Writing in the Guardian, the former England coach believes that Cook will do well to focus on his game instead of worrying too much about his role as the team's vice-captain.

As captain, even as vice-captain, you need to have broader horizons, to be thinking about your team-mates. Cook should be concentrating entirely on his own game, not thinking too widely. The vice-captaincy has just added another external pressure on to him. There is no sense in training a player up to be a captain anyway. Leaders are born, not made, and if a player has the right mindset he will naturally acquire the knowledge he needs as his experience grows.

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Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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