World Cup 2007 February 15, 2007

South Africa stick with winning 15

Cricinfo staff



South Africa have hit form ahead of the World Cup © AFP
South Africa have stuck with the 15-man squad which secured a 3-1 series victory over Pakistan for their World Cup campaign.

"We are sending a strong, well-balanced and well-prepared squad to meet the challenges of Caribbean conditions against the best in the world," said Gerald Majola, the chief executive of Cricket South Africa. "No stone was left unturned in ensuring that the players have had the very best preparation on offer.

Makhaya Ntini will not travel with the rest of the squad to the Caribbean on February 28, instead staying behind for the birth of his second child. Ntini will join up with the squad in Trinidad ahead of the second warm-up match against Pakistan on March 9.

Graeme Smith said: ""It is a huge honour to know I'm captaining this team to the World Cup, but to know I have full confidence in all 15 players just makes me prouder. This team has come a long way since 2003. It is much calmer and more confident. Everyone fits in really well, it is a happy team. Now we just need to adapt to conditions and deal with the pressures in the Caribbean."

Mickey Arthur, the coach, said: "The squad selected gives us all comfort in the belief that the goals set in preparation for the World Cup have been achieved.

"The squad going to the Caribbean have proven their ability to take on the best and our performance at the Champions Trophy and our recent victories against India and Pakistan are an indication of the work put in by everyone."

Arthur expressed satisfaction with the bowling combination. "This is our best possible bowling combination and every option is covered in the squad. We have a containing new-ball bowler in Shaun and a strike bowler in Makhaya. Andre Nel's job is to strike behind Makhaya and Shaun, while Andrew Hall and Charl Langeveldt provide variation, reverse-swing and bowl at the death.

"Jacques Kallis is our fifth bowler and can swing it, Graeme Smith has been working hard on his off-spin and Justin Kemp has been working really hard on his cutters."

West Indies pitches are expected to be flat but Arthur is confident the team has the necessary skill to overcome the tracks. "We've recognised that we did look a bit one-dimensional when pitches were flat at the Champions Trophy, but we have worked hard on getting variation and reverse-swing. We hope we have all the bases covered and have enough variation to cover whatever comes up," Arthur said.

"The closer the tournament gets, the more the nervous excitement will grow. But no-one is scared, there is just the excitement of the hard work that will get us to number one," Smith said.

South Africa squad Graeme Smith (capt), Loots Bosman, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Hall, Jacques Kallis, Justin Kemp, Charl Langeveldt, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Robin Peterson, Shaun Pollock, Ashwell Prince, Roger Telemachus