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February 5, 2008
South Africa have received yet another blow to their preparations for the ICC World Cup qualifiers with batsman Mignon du Preez withdrawing from the squad less than two weeks before the start of the tournament.
du Preez, who opted out for personal reasons, has been replaced by left-arm spinner Charlize van der Westhuizen, who last played for South Africa in April 2005.
Despite being hosts, South Africa will know they were better prepared last November when the tournament was scheduled to be played in Pakistan. Since the qualifiers were moved to South Africa due to political unrest in Pakistan, the home team have lost Johmari Logtenberg, their star batsman who decided to quit cricket for golf, and now du Preez. In fact du Preez and Logtenberg featured in a record unbeaten partnership of 224 in August 2007 against Netherlands.
Zimbabwe and Ireland have also had players pull out of the tournament and must feel unlucky when comparing their current team strength to what it was in November.
Zimbabwe had organised a three-week camp for their players last October but this time around, apart from losing players, they have had rain ruin most of their practice matches ahead of their departure to South Africa on February 16.
While Zimbabwe and Ireland are grouped in Pool B along with Scotland and Pakistan, South Africa are in Pool A with Netherlands, Bermuda and Papua New Guinea.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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