Variety the flavour of Proteas
South Africa enters the quarterfinals of the World Cup with a lot of momentum behind them, having won five of their six group matches to finish top of group B. They would be desperate to do well, given their poor record in the global tournaments where they have largely flattered to deceive in the past. This time though they have something they could not boast of before -- a truly varied bowling attack. There is of course their traditional strength, pace bowling, but also a spin attack comprising three quality bowlers, leg-spinner Imran Tahir, left-arm spinner Robin Peterson and off-spinner Johan Botha.
Also the vice-captain of the Proteas, Botha was glowing in his praise for the South African bowling attack when he sat down for a media conference at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka yesterday after practice, ahead of their quarterfinal against New Zealand here on Friday.
“The three spinners are very different to each other,” Botha said, “Imran (Tahir) is an attacking bowler, and he's gotten us many wickets in the tournament, so has Robin (Peterson). I have been controlling the game from one side, trying to keep the runs down. Then we've got world class seamers (Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn) who've been doing pretty well.”
Botha himself has often been thrust into the unfamiliar role of opening the bowling ahead of the pace stalwarts. He thought that his role was to dry up the runs from one end, while the other bowlers picked up wickets from the other.
“You do want to pick wickets in the first few overs, the best way to stop the run rate,” Botha said, and added, “I am probably doing more of a holding job and controlling the bowling from one side and they have all been taking wickets from the other.”
Their opponents on Friday will be New Zealand, who have a batsman, Ross Taylor in red-hot form. Botha said that the Proteas will talk about their players over the intervening days.
“He is in very good form, has played really well so far in the World Cup. We will look at a few things over the next day or two. He's obviously a key player for them, and Brendon McCullum is also a key player. Scott Styris has got a lot of experience,” he added and gave his opponents their due, “We know we are up against a quality side, and its going to be a tough match.
“Daniel Vettori is the big player for them -- world class bowler, in the top few in the rankings. He's done so well over a long period. We respect him highly, and I'm sure he'll give anything to play in this game,” said Botha of the New Zealand skipper, who missed two games because of injury. “I think it will be a good contest, because our guys have played spin really well in this tournament.”
Both teams have had recent experience of playing in Dhaka, although for New Zealand it has been largely unhappy. Botha thought that both teams will be happy with playing here.
“I think both teams are happy. They have played here a bit before the World Cup, and its probably why they sort of came to tour Bangladesh at that time (October 2010),” he said. “We have had the one game and we have played here two years ago. Both teams know the venue well. On their day they can beat anyone, and I think it will be a good match.”