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South African batsmen go back to school

Centurion (South Africa) - With heavy criticism from their skipper Hansie Cronje very much in their thoughts after some slap dash performances South Africa's top batsmen are being sent back to school to learn to cope with the demands needed for the 10 tests in the summer ahead. And the venue of this particular exercise is Bloemfontein where the first test of the season, against Zimbabwe, is being played at the end of the month. Which makes sense and among those likely to be invited is Daryll Cullinan, turfed out by the selectors after a disappointing World Cup.

Although this does not indicate Cullinan is likely to be included in the South African side for the first test against Zimbabwe is to be announced, most likely around October 22 or 23 during the third round of SuperSport Series matches, it makes sense that he be included in the squad.

The batting lessons in Bloemfontein are, it has been suggested, be held on October18 and 19 which falls in between the second and third round matches of the A Section. Others who face an invitation are Gary Kirsten, Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis, Cullinan, Cronje, Jonty Rhodes, Boeta Dippenaar, Dale Benkenstein, Mark Boucher and possibly a couple of those who have shown some form during the first two rounds.

There is also a chance that Martin van Jaarsveld, HD Ackerman or even Gerry Liebenberg may get a look in as the selectors mull over the A team possibilities for the Sri Lanka games in November. At least the selectors will get an idea of hopefully knowing what they are looking for when it comes to their batting choices.

As for Gibbs, the new national coach, Graham Ford felt the young man showed a lot of character and courage in helping South Africa win the final of LG Cup against India in Nairobi on Sunday. "It was the way he batted for the South African A side in Sri Lanka last year. He went out to bat with a single purpose in mind and that was to help us win," the coach added. "It said it for all the players. They went into the game with the sort of determination which said a lot for team spirit."

But the man Ford reserved special praise for is the captain, Cronje. "A coach can do so much only the way Hansie approached the tournament after that heavy defeat by India in out first game was quite awesome," Ford said yesterday. "It is often not easy to come back after such a heavy defeat and go on to win the final the way we did, and this is where I think South Africa showed the others why they are the side they are," he commented. "The guys were focused and knew what they had to do to come back. They showed the sort of fighting spirit which has turned them into the side they are."