ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
West Indies v South Africa, World Cup 2011, Delhi
'South Africa better prepared than ever' - Kallis
Firdose Moonda in Delhi
February 22, 2011
Jacques Kallis has said South Africa are "better prepared than we have been for any World Cup." It's no different to what any of the other members of the squad have preached in the build-up but coming from the team's premier allrounder's lips, it sounds different.
Kallis is, by far, South Africa's most experienced player in the tournament, with this World Cup being his fifth. His analysis has context: that of the being part of the 1996 team that had one bad day in the quarter-finals, the 1999 team that missed on a final spot in dramatic fashion, the 2003 team that didn't make it past the first round of the competition played on home soil and the 2007 team that crumbled to Australia - twice.
This time Kallis feels the make-up of the squad is different. "We've covered all our bases," he said. "We have the balance in the team to be able to play on any type of tracks that come in front of us, which is something we really haven't had for a while."
The one glaringly undercooked element of South African squads of the past has been the lack of an attacking spinner, something has Kallis has lived through. "The last unorthodox one [spinner] might have been Paul Adams," he said, which is why the inclusion of Pakistan-born legspinner Imran Tahir is exciting so many people, including Kallis. "He creates some doubt in the batsmen's mind and he's fitted in fantastically into the squad." Kallis added that together with pace attack that has "produced the goods recently," South Africa can "adapt to any adapt to any conditions put in front of us."
He was mindful not to neglect mentioning, with a glint in his eye, that one of the cogs in that attack is an "old allrounder who bowls a bit." It's refreshing to see the lighter side of Kallis, a testament to the shift in the mindset of the South African squad that both their own and other journalists have noticed.
The change in attitude, according to the ageing man himself, can be attributed to the sense of belonging each squad member feels. "Each guy knows his role which is major part of feeling relaxed. You get quite nervous when you're not sure where you fit in. The team has spent a lot of time together now as a unit."
With what Kallis sees as a complete line-up he is encouraging the team to revel in the experience. "Guys can go out there and really enjoy it, which is something that as a senior player I've been wanting to get across." After the disappointment of four World Cups, Kallis knows what he's saying when he dispatches the advice to have fun. "The thing with a World Cup is once it starts it goes by in the blink of an eye, so I want to encourage them to enjoy it."