Ottis plays down injury fears

South Africa coach Ottis Gibson has moved to dispel fears that Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn will not be fit for the start of the Proteas’ World Cup campaign.

South Africa’s 15-man squad had a two-day team building camp in Cape Town with players returning from the Indian Premier League and county cricket before a hike up Table Mountain. Rabada participated in the hike to underline the progress his back injury has made.

Both will participate in a training camp in Pretoria with Steyn seeking to prove he has overcome a shoulder injury and is ready to go.

“There was an issue with KG (Rabada) and there was an issue with Dale, but we feel that those guys are on track,” Gibson said.

“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 seeking their first win at the World Cup having made the semi-finals in four of the seven tournaments since their readmission to the global game in 1992.

Twice they have been eliminated by Australia – at the semi-final stage in 1999 and 2007 – and twice by New Zealand, famously at the 2015 World Cup in an Eden Park thriller, and at the quarter-finals of the 2011 tournament.

Gibson said this year’s squad would not be burdened by the past 27 years of failure at the global 50-over tournament.

“What’s gone on in the past is gone. We’re not taking any of it into the World Cup with us,” Gibson insisted.

“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.

“It’s a fresh start for us. 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.”

Anrich Nortje, who was withdrawn from the original 15-man squad with a thumb injury and replaced by allrounder Chris Morris, is said to be tracking well and could come into contention for the latter stages of the tournament if the Proteas need a replacement player.

“He’s obviously devastated, but the World Cup is seven weeks long,” Gibson 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.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here