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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > Reuters > Report

Proteas look for bowling fix

Marcus Prior in Bloemfontein | February 21, 2003 11:57 IST

South Africa go into their World Cup Group B match against Bangladesh on Saturday looking for solutions to their well publicised bowling problems.

The hosts lost to the West Indies and New Zealand, but were thrown a lifeline when the game between West Indies and Bangladesh was washed out on Tuesday with both teams sharing points.

Although South Africa can all but assure their place in the Super Sixes by winning their final three group games, the bowling attack continues to be a concern with a lack of effective back-up for captain Shaun Pollock.

West Indies piled up 278 for five against Pollock's side in the tournament opener, and New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming made an inspired unbeaten 134 to guide his team to a reduced victory target after South Africa had made an impressive 306 for six.

Seamer Makhaya Ntini is a particular worry, and the man most likely to be called on to provide a solution is all rounder Andrew Hall, one of three squad members yet to play in the tournament.

"We have to fix the bowling," convenor of selectors Omar Henry told reporters on Thursday. "We haven't got a batting problem. Our focus is 'let's fix the bowling problem'.

"Hall we believe is good enough to be selected as a bowler and then bat down wherever."

The player to have come in for most criticism is 36-year-old fast bowler Allan Donald, who has taken only one wicket and been expensive against both West Indies and New Zealand.

Although he has looked short of rhythm and pace, the South Africans will be hoping their most successful Test bowler can draw on the support of the crowd at his home ground and rediscover his form.

"So far I've got one wicket in two games and plenty of stick to go with that too," a reflective Donald said after nets on Thursday. "It's very frustrating and there's no place to hide on this kind of stage.

"I'm making no excuses for my performances so far. They've been below par and I know that. It's up to me to be positive and try and enjoy it more.

"I feel very stiff out there at the moment and may be these next two games are a good opportunity to just go out there and enjoy.

"At the moment I feel that I need two more games and to bowl 20 overs, but I'm no selector," Donald said.

Although South Africa are overwhelming favourites to beat Bangladesh and their next opponents, Canada, Henry made it clear there was no guarantee Donald would be given the run-out he wants.

"We want to be one nation, one team, one plan. We will consider the individual within those parameters, but he cannot dominate those three issues," he said, referring to the Donald situation.

"Our focus is on 15 players and it will always remain that way in the preliminary stage and, hopefully, the Super Sixes as well."

South Africa will be hoping they too do not fall victim to the late summer rainfall on the highveld, which dealt West Indies a severe blow in Benoni on Tuesday.

The squad trained under ominously cloudy skies in Bloemfontein after a night of rain, but the long term forecast is for only a 20 percent chance of rain on Saturday.

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