Tuesday 19 August 2008 

South Africa Aiming To Do The Double Over England

After completing a historic Test series victory against England, South Africa will start the five match One Day International series against England as huge favourites. Graeme Smith’s were recently ranked number one in the world in ODI cricket. Although the South African’s recently relinquished the top spot to World Champions Australia, a good series in England will see the Proteas climb once more to the summit of one day cricket.

Albie Morkel has already shown great promise for South Africa in both One Day and Twenty20 cricket. Indeed Morkel was also a member of the Chennai Super Kings team that made the final of the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL).

The young all-rounder, whose brother Morne was part of South Africa’s victorious Test team is excited to be part of the South African squad, after watching South Africa’s historic achievement in the Test series from the sidelines.

"I am excited to join this side after the successful Test series that they had, I think it is going to be a very good series. It looks from the side like they are playing with more energy and a better vibe in the side so I think it will be a very tight contest, certainly over the last month South Africa has played some very good one day cricket and we will be up for the challenge."

Morkel added that if South Africa were to emerge victorious in the One Day series it would be very special to have achieved the double in England.

"We have been playing some good One Day cricket over the last year and ended last year at number one in the world, we are back to second now, we are a proud nation so for us to come and win a Test series and a One Day series in England would be a big achievement, so everyone is really keen to do that."

South Africa’s coach Mickey Arthur, who was overlooking his team practising at the home of cricket, acknowledged that winning the Test Series required a lot of effort and energy, he therefore believes that fresh faces in his squad will prove beneficial in the ODI series.

"The key is to get new fresh guys, and that immediately re-energises the squad which is great, everybody get quite excited to play with the white ball now, new guys just bring in new energy, and its good because the tour has been so long."

Arthur believes that South Africa’s loss in the final Test Match at the Oval was largely down to a 'mental shift' because getting motivated for the match having already won the series was a very difficult assignment.

"I could see at The Oval there was just a total mental shift, from how we had been so disciplined throughout the series, and some of the shots played I don’t think we would have seen if it was one all, there is absolutely no doubt, it was a mental let off for the guys. It is hard to get a side up when the series is already won - I have to be honest I can see what the Aussies went through, you come with a goal and once you achieve it the focus sort of shifts away."

The South African coach also added the players in the One Day squad who did not feature in the Test series, are hungry be part of a series winning side.

"They were part of the end of tour function, and they now seriously want to win the One Dayers, they want to be part of something good and part of a successful team."

South Africa’s star all-rounder Jacques Kallis struggled for form in the Test series with the bat. However, Arthur insists he is confident that Kallis will come through this lean period and even tips him to be Man of the series in the One Day series.

"Man of the series in the one day series that is my prediction - since he has started he has never been through this. When he first started he went through nine innings when he really battled but that was like ten years ago, most people have to think back to a couple of weeks for when they last had a lean spell but for Jacques it is ten years ago!

"He is very frustrated - he wants to contribute, he is very professional, and when he is not contributing he is not a happy guy. I am hoping he saves all his runs for Australia."

The series kicks off with a Twenty20 International tomorrow at Riverside. South Africa won the only previous T20 International between the two sides, in last year's T20 World Cup.

Aaron Kumar
© Cricket World 2008