ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Ireland v South Africa, Group B, World Cup 2011, Kolkata

Smith searching for perfect game

Firdose Moonda at Eden Gardens

March 15, 2011

Comments: 23 | Text size: A | A

Relief is not an expression South Africa cricketers have worn often in World Cups, which may explain why Graeme Smith was donning it with such pride at his post-match press conference in Kolkata. South Africa's 131-run win over Ireland makes them the first team in Group B that is certain of a quarter-final spot. They also have a game in hand before the knockouts start.

"It's fantastic to have qualified already," Smith said. "Our group is pretty tense this week and it's nice that we don't have to deal with that tension for a change." Bangladesh, England, West Indies and India will fight it out for the remaining three spots, with India all but assured of a place.

It leaves South Africa with the clearest path to topping the group, which will mean they will take on whoever finishes fourth in Group A, currently Australia, but that could easily change. Smith is not allowing himself to get flustered by the permutations, saying that doing so is futile. "It doesn't matter who you play in the quarters, you have to win that game. It's pointless trying to nitpick and plan."

Instead, what he wants to work on is South Africa mastering the art of playing the perfect game, something he feels they haven't managed in the five matches they've played so far. "In every game there's probably something you can say we haven't done well. The first 10-14 overs against India with the ball and we didn't finish with the bat against England."

In the match against Ireland, it was again the batting that Smith was not happy with. "We got ourselves into a bit of trouble today, with some stupid run outs." His own form is also a concern with the 45 he scored in the first match against West Indies in Delhi still his top score. Smith has looked scratchy in his other knocks but it hasn't mattered for the team as a whole because someone in the line-up has always contributed. Smith insists that a big innings is imminent. "I have been hitting the ball well in the nets. When I do come right, I will make it count and I look forward to contributing."

John Mooney is thrilled after running out Graeme Smith, Ireland v South Africa, Group B, World Cup, Kolkata, March 15, 2011
Graeme Smith: "We got ourselves into a bit of trouble today, with some stupid run outs." © Getty Images

Even though he hasn't been able to play a major role with the bat, it's his leadership that the team are blossoming under. "In every game we've fixed what we did wrong in the previous game. Now, we need to play a full 100 overs."

Their remaining group match against Bangladesh presents them with an opportunity to do that. South Africa have been clear that they are not using any matches to experiment, and that any juggling of the starting XI is based solely on conditions and suitability. "We'll go to Bangladesh with a mindset to win but we'll also have to look at our injuries."

Legspinner Imran Tahir should be available for selection after completing his 10-day rest period for a fractured thumb and AB de Villiers should have recovered from a thigh muscle strain. Dale Steyn, who felt discomfort in his side in the match against Ireland, should also be fit, but Smith said they "will consider using Lonwabo Tsotsobe or Wayne Parnell."

The options available to South Africa leaves the selection committee spoilt for choice but also with a tough task, since juggling players who are all performing is as difficult as juggling those who are searching for form. It's exactly the situation South Africa wanted to create for themselves as they approach the crescendo of their tournament - which is still some time away. "If you have a team where everybody can contribute on the day, you are not reliant on one or two people," Smith said.

It's not just the performance that Smith is satisfied with, it's the responses that the team have had in the various situations and surfaces they've played on that he is happy with too. "Everywhere we have played in India the surfaces have been so different and we've adapted well. We've hung in there when we needed to, we've been able to pounce when we needed to and that's been very exciting to me."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

RSS Feeds: Firdose Moonda


Comments: 23 
. Your ESPN name '' will be used to display your comments. Please click here to edit this.
Comments have now been closed for this article

Posted by Amol on (March 17, 2011, 5:34 GMT)

For me, QFs will perhaps be SA-NZL, IND-PAK, WI-SRL, ENG-AUS.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 16, 2011, 18:47 GMT)

Smith should consider batting down the order. With Van Wyk hitting the ball so well in the first fifteen overs will allow Amla to play his natural solid game..

Posted by V.L on (March 16, 2011, 18:28 GMT)

@BanglaBandhu That was hilarious. Steyn and Morkel will rip through the Bangladeshi batsmen. They will be lucky to get past hundred , just like against WI where Roach has ripped them apart.

Posted by Athol on (March 16, 2011, 10:26 GMT)

@ Andrew Open with Van Wyk, he was devesatating in the 20/20. Bring in Tahir in Smith's place. Unless Smith performs vs Bang.

Posted by Kifat on (March 16, 2011, 9:38 GMT)

we all know that will never happen@Andrew

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 16, 2011, 9:27 GMT)


You don't drop your Captain half-way through a World Cup, and especially not when the team is thriving under his leadership. Botha is the next captain elect, but he is not guaranteed to get game time in every match when Tahir returns. There is no one else capable of leading the team besides those 2 guys. Don't talk about Kallis or Amla, they don't want the captaincy, and they are too quiet anyway.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 16, 2011, 9:15 GMT)

South Africa may win today and game agaist BD to be on top of the cahrt in Group B but I still had the intitution they reserved there choking tag in the sudden round.South Africa will again repeat the history of being Chokers of World cricket

Posted by Cricket Fan on (March 16, 2011, 8:39 GMT)

Any way first part of the game was very interesting

Posted by Rafid on (March 16, 2011, 8:29 GMT)

That's easier said than done. I don't think Bangladesh has the composure to beat South Africa. Tamim and his fellow batters won't stand a chance against Steyn and Morkel.

Posted by Shahbaaz on (March 16, 2011, 8:01 GMT)

How can they drop Smith, he's the captain

Email Feedback Print
Firdose MoondaClose
News | Features Last 3 days
News | Features Last 3 days
  • No stories yet

World Cup Videos