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August 16, 2009
Jonty Rhodes, the former South African player, has said home advantage will mean little in next month's Champions Trophy in South Africa since teams travel a lot more and are used to different conditions these days.
"The support of the crowd does make a difference if things go a bit flat and they can lift you, but South Africa won't be relying on that," Rhodes told the Supercricket website. "They'll be relying on planning and getting in place all the processes involved in winning."
Rhodes, a fielding coach for IPL team Mumbai Indians, said South Africa were favourites for the trophy along with Australia and India. "They [South Africa] are a really well-balanced unit and they are setting standards for the other teams to chase. But Australia are written off far too easily, they will obviously be strong contenders, they have a good record in the competition and they know how to win. India are also very good, they've learnt how to travel and win and they have destructive bowlers and hitters in their line-up."
South Africa's strength, Rhodes said, was their consistency, which is important in a 50-over tournament. The top eight teams have been divided into two groups of four each and the top two from each group will qualify for the semi-finals of the two-week long tournament. "They've been playing great cricket, the team is settled and everyone knows their roles, they've got special players in batting, bowling and fielding. Their preparation and organisation will be excellent and they've learnt how to hit the ground running. They've learnt how to switch on very quickly and the management team of Graeme Smith and Mickey Arthur have been very good at that.
"But you can't afford to have a bad day. We saw that in the Twenty20 World Cup, where we played great cricket but, to take nothing away from the opposition, someone like Shahid Afridi produced something special."
South Africa will open the tournament, from September 22 to October 5, with a game against Sri Lanka in Centurion.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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