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South Africa in England 2008

South Africa's fitness woes worries Cullinan

Cricinfo staff

August 29, 2008

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Graeme Smith is out for the rest of the tour with a tennis elbow © Getty Images

Daryll Cullinan, the former South African batsman, has expressed concern over the fitness of the South African players on tour in England, following their defeats in the first two one-day internationals against England. The injury-hit side is already without their captain Graeme Smith, who will miss the remaining three matches due to a tennis elbow injury.

South Africa went into the first game without the Morkel brothers - Albie and Morne - and the pair aren't match fit yet for the third one-dayer at The Oval today. Dale Steyn, the fast bowler, had missed the last two Tests with a broken thumb.

"The fitness level of the team is a major problem," Cullinan told Cape Times. "I don't think the guys are fit. Too many guys are breaking down on a regular basis.

"The Morkels have broken down, Dale has struggled and Makhaya [Ntini] has probably not been at optimum fitness for the past two years. Some of these guys are not even 30 yet."

South Africa won the Test series 2-1, their first win in four tours to the country since readmission. After losing the first one-dayer at Headingley by 20 runs, they were bowled out for an embarrassing 83 at Trent Bridge, leading to a ten-wicket defeat - their heaviest and most humiliating one in their 406-match ODI history. However, Cullinan didn't blame the defeat on fatigue.

"It would be a lame excuse if the players blamed the length of the tour," he said. "It's utter nonsense. Fresh guys have been added to the squad for that extra energy."

He felt they misread the conditions in Trent Bridge, when the seamer Stuart Broad picked up a personal best of 5 for 23, and also called for better shot selection.

"Sometimes we get caught up trying to play in a certain way. We need to play according to the way the conditions allow us to play. We need to be able to adjust when required. There were some really poor shots played when maybe a bit of caution was required."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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