Cape Town — South Africa’s premier fast bowling duo of Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada are on track to make the World Cup opener against hosts England at The Oval on May 30.
That was the word from national coach Ottis Gibson on Tuesday following a two-day team building camp in Cape Town that was directly aimed at getting the 15-man squad gelling and on the same page ahead of their latest effort to bring back an elusive World Cup crown.
Players told their IPL stories, Aiden Markram shared his own recent experiences of a hugely successful stint with Hampshire in England and a team hike up Table Mountain on Tuesday brought the camp’s proceedings to an end.
The squad will now jet off to Pretoria for some hard net graft ahead of their departure to England on Sunday.
It is at that camp in Pretoria where Steyn, who is battling a shoulder injury, will look to bowl at a high enough standard to convince Gibson and the rest of management that he is ready to go.
Rabada, meanwhile, is doing a lot better and was part of the hike on Tuesday, bad back and all.
“There was an issue with KG (Rabada) and there was an issue with Dale, but we feel that those guys are on track,” Gibson told media.
“There is nothing that people should be alarmed about. We feel that they’re going to make full recoveries and be able to take their place at the World Cup.”
The Proteas are making a concerted effort not to over-hype this latest World Cup charge.
Gibson was clear that he did not want to discuss the ‘chokers’ tag, saying that there were enough youngsters in the squad who had not been tainted by the past experiences that have haunted this side for two decades when it comes to major tournaments.
“It’s a fresh start for us,” Gibson offered.
“We’re going to the World Cup together and it’s my first time with the team.
“The language that we have been using now is the same that we’ve been using for the last 18 months and it’s one of positivity.
“What’s gone on in the past is gone. We’re not taking any of it into the World Cup with us … we’re going in with it being a new adventure for us. We’ve got a lot of guys who are playing their first World Cup and we want to make it special for them.
“We don’t want to put too much pressure on the fact that it’s a World Cup. At the end of the day, we’re playing the same cricket that we did against Sri Lanka a couple of months ago and Pakistan before that. We’re not building it up to be anything other than what it is … it’s still cricket.”
Gibson has been in close contact with Anrich Nortje, who was cruelly withdrawn from the squad earlier in the month with a fractured thumb and replaced by allrounder Chris Morris.
If anything does go wrong with one of the Proteas seamers during the latter stages of the tournament, Nortje could find himself fit and ready to answer the call.
“He’s obviously devastated, but the World Cup is seven weeks long,” the coach said.
“I’m told by the medics that his injury is four to six weeks. We still have the opportunity to go and pick him if something happens at the back-end of the tournament, if his thumb has healed.”