World Cup 2011

Relaxed van Zyl reflects upbeat mood

Firdose Moonda in Kolkata

March 14, 2011

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Just as a good marksman doesn't need a lot of shots to hit the target, South Africa don't need to over-train to be effective. After a mentally and physically draining match against India on Saturday and travelling from Nagpur to Kolkata via Mumbai on Sunday, the squad was allowed a day's rest before their match against Ireland on Tuesday.

"Just because we are not training, doesn't mean we are not prepared," Corrie van Zyl, South Africa coach said. "This is part of our preparation." It may seem strange that not actively doing something will have value when getting ready for an activity, like sport, that will require a lot of doing. "We don't need to train just for the sake of it," van Zyl said, indicating that the mental aspect was taking precedence this time around.

The win over India was a mental leap for South Africa, because they were able to come on top of a tense and pressured situation without much panic. The effect it had was evident when Robin Peterson hit the winning runs and charged around the field, possessed. Graeme Smith described it as "raw emotion" and that's exactly what it was. Joy exposed, ecstasy laid bare.

To come down from that high, and they've had to come down because that wasn't the final, might have felt like a crash, and that's why picking themselves up again is going to be tricky. "There is a danger of that [not being able to get up quickly enough]," van Zyl said. "But it's how you approach the danger that's important. We've got guys like Henning Gericke to help with that." Gericke is the team psychologist and will play an instrumental role in readying their minds for the next game.

South Africa coach Corrie van Zyl prior speaks to the team's departure to the subcontinent, Johannesburg, February 8, 2011
It's not often that Corrie van Zyl cracks jokes at a press conference © AFP

Although they have not trained and will only see Eden Gardens on match day, van Zyl said they've made sure the venue is not foreign to them. "We've looked at all the grounds and all the stats and we know exactly what to expect from a day-night game here." South Africa have played at the ground just a year ago, a Test match against India which they lost.

This time the opposition is ranked much lower but South Africa are promising the same intensity they showed against Netherlands. Injury concerns will definitely keep Imran Tahir out of the match, as he still recovers from a fractured thumb. AB de Villiers strained a muscle in his left thigh during the match against India and although scans revealed that there was no tear, he is a doubtful starter.

That could open the door for the untested Colin Ingram to have a go, if South Africa still want to go in with seven batsman, which they may choose to do on a pitch with specks of green. The same surface could merit including an extra bowler. Having bowled out all four sides they have faced so far, South Africa are unlikely to change the bowling combination. "The bowlers have been disciplined and stuck to game plans, which is why they've been successful," van Zyl said.

They've also shown a remarkable calm under pressure, like when India were tearing into them on Saturday. It's that composed approach that they may have spent the day working on. van Zyl showed definite signs of having relaxed at his press conference when the microphone didn't work, simply because he hadn't pressed the button to switch it on. He blushed a little when he was shown the right switch but immediately turned the situation around into a laugh. "We don't have buttons in Bloemfontein," he said and the whole room brightened. It was the first time many had seen van Zyl crack a joke in a press conference and the easy manner with which he did may well be a reflection on the mood in the camp as a whole.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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