Shaun Pollock has said any team could fancy their chances at the ICC World Twenty20, because of the quick-paced nature of the game.
"It's too fast," Pollock told the Australian. "It's a bit of a sprint. If one-day cricket is an 800-metre race, then Twenty20 is 100 metres.
"If you get off to a bad start you can lose the game regardless of who you are playing."
The South African team have been called 'chokers' in the past, due to their inability to succeed in the World Cup for the 50-over format. However, Pollock indicated that the possibility was less in Twenty20. "I don't think there's really time to choke, everything happens so quickly," Pollock said. After a infamous rain-rule denied them a final berth at the 1992 World Cup, South Africa have stumbled ever since in the World Cup, having twice missed out against Australia - a thrilling tie in 1999 and a lop-sided contest earlier this year in the West Indies.
Pollock was also the captain of the team that had a disastrous tournament at home in the 2003 World Cup, which they exited in the first stage. Many critics felt the commitments to organisers and sponsors distracted the players then, something Pollock said has been avoided this time around. "We are very focused on making sure all our commitments are out of the way."
South Africa wrapped all their media and sponsorship obligations in Johannesburg before they left for a training centre in Potchefstroom, where they are undergoing preparations for five days in the lead-up to the tournament. Australia, winners of the 2003 World Cup, also trained in the same centre ahead of their victorious campaign.
"We can go off to Potch and prepare for the tournament for five days leading up, where we just focus wholly and solely on cricket," Pollock said before the team left. "Hopefully that bears fruit in the time to come. Being the host nation, there are always more commitments, so to get them out of the way and be able to concentrate on cricket is what we've learnt from last time."
Pollock also said that he would like to move up the batting order as he felt that four overs of bowling would not be enough for him to feel involved in the game. "It would be nice to be put up the order and be able to express yourself," he said. "That's the one bonus. If you were only a bowler in this form of the game it would be pretty depressing."
He also expressed his views on the omission of Jacques Kallis from the team. "It's obviously a big call by the selectors," Pollock said. "He has voiced some disappointment and you can understand that. "
Kallis has been South Africa's batting mainstay over the years and was the team's top run-getter at the World Cup earlier this year. "Usually he's the first or second name put down on a piece of paper when you're selecting the side, so he would have been very surprised by the fact he wasn't included," Pollock said. "Being a home event, he would have loved to play in front of his own home crowd, so that would have added to the disappointment. The big plus from the way he has reacted is that it answers the question about what the guys think of a Twenty20 tournament."
Pollock said Kallis' displeasure at not being selected was an indication of the team's eagerness to perform well at the tournament. "If Jacques, after all the cricket he has played and all he has achieved, is disappointed about not being part of it, then you realise it is going to be a special event. We're going to be really trying hard to try to win it."