ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
New Zealand v South Africa, World Cup 2011, 3rd quarter-final, Mirpur
Happy memories for Kallis in Dhaka
Firdose Moonda in Mirpur
March 23, 2011
Much has changed for Jacques Kallis since 1998. He has gone from being the wide-eyed newbie to the experienced sage, from being a man with a gritty Test century to his name to being a man with 40 - some hard-fought, some classy. Yet, two things remain the same: his hair, although that's only been possible because of the intervention of technology, and the fact the only ICC trophy he has to his name is the Wills International Cup.
"It's almost 15 years ago, but I still have some fond memories of the final," Kallis said in Dhaka, the same city where the final was played and the place where South Africa are preparing for their World Cup quarter-final match against New Zealand. "It's the only time we ever won an ICC event and hopefully it's a good omen for the games to come."
Kallis has been through it all since then: the heartbreak in 1999, the miscalculation in 2003, the overconfidence in 2007 and now the "play it one game at a time" in 2011. Every time, South Africa have had a strong side, with a few fearsome names and the potential to be titleholders. Every time, they went home disappointed. Kallis thinks one of the reasons for that could be an overdependence on individuals: Lance Klusener in 1999, Shaun Pollock in 2003 and Kallis himself, AB de Villiers and Graeme Smith in 2007.
This time, Kallis thinks the expectation is more evenly spread, with any one of the 15 squad members, nevermind just the eleven on the field, capable of being called upon to do the job. "Everyone has contributed, whereas in the past we've had to rely on one or two players," he said. "Everyone in the squad seems to be in good form. It also hasn't only been eleven guys that have played their part, as we've seen in the last few games. The guys coming in have performed well, which is fantastic."
South Africa's runs have mostly come from two of the top four, with AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla leading the charts, while Kallis himself seems to have found a good rhythm. The middle order have shown character too with JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis hardening up what looked like a soft centre. The wickets have been the same, spread amongst the frontline seamers and the spinners, and going into what Kallis calls the "business end" of the tournament, it's hard to pick out any discernable weakness in the South African game.
That's why Kallis thinks they don't need to tweak their set-up too much even though the seriousness of each match has intensified. "We have to just keep doing the things that we did in the group stage, where we played some unbelievable cricket. There's no reason to change anything." he said. South Africa are the only team to have come out of the group stages having bowled out every side they played against and were only once bowled out themselves.
South Africa have marketed themselves as "process driven" through the tournament, a team that wants to make sure they get their side of the game done correctly, and have said they are not worried about the results. In the knockouts, that thinking has to change a little, because the results matter and the process needs to be geared towards getting the results.
Kallis said that South Africa's preparations are slanted that way and that although the process is still important, it's the time of the competition where all the work they have put into the process should pay off. "I've always seen this part of the tournament as an exam. If you've prepared well and done the hard worked, you just have to go and write the test. If you're underprepared, that's when you start getting nervous."
South Africa have studied each opposition closely, building a plan tailor made for certain players on certain days and New Zealand will be no different. "New Zealand are a dangerous side that on their day can beat anyone. They bat deep and have plenty of allrounders," Kallis said. New Zealand's depth is what South Africa seem most concerned about with Kallis saying that they need to be mindful of the need to compete over the entire match and not just to make early dents. "It won't be game over even if we get early wickets and it's crucial that we stay on top of our game for 300 balls and ensure that we pounce at the slightest show of weakness."
South Africa beat Bangladesh at this ground five days ago and have had the opportunity to play on the wicket, while New Zealand have not been to Dhaka yet. The last time New Zealand visited Bangladesh, they were beaten four-nil in an ODI series, but Kallis thinks that will mean little on match day, and that neither team will have the advantage. He expects that the wicket will keep low and that "250 or 260 is about a par score."