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Mickey Arthur - Walks the talk

Unlike other teams, Proteas and Indians have 7 to 8 game-breakers in their ranks

Tuesday, June 09, 2021
‘Game-breakers make SA, India top contenders’  

I said before the tournament that eight teams had at least one or two players with the ability to win a game single-handedly. But to win a tournament you need more than one, as no player can win five or six games in a row by himself. Four teams have three or four game-breakers but, perhaps, only India and South Africa have seven or eight.

If Gibbs, Smith and Kallis all fail, then we have De Villiers, Duminy, Morkel and Boucher. Steyn, Botha and Parnell are also potential match winners with the ball. And who’s to say Roelof van der Merwe isn’t as well?

AB de Villiers' 79 not out provided the platform for South Africa to crush Scotland by 130 runs. © AFP
India have just as many game-breakers in their squad and, like South Africa, that allows the top order batsmen to play with total freedom and confidence because they know and believe in the ability of the men to follow. India have just as many batsmen capable of destroying an attack.

It is the same with the bowlers, Zaheer and Dale Steyn can lead the attack with fearless aggression, aiming to take wickets with the confidence that they have quality seamers and spinners behind them.

But to win a T20 tournament, you also need to have the ability to assess conditions and decide what is a par score. And luck. Nobody wins anything without a bit of luck going their way.

As far as I’m concerned, we have a happy, relaxed, smiling and extremely well prepared squad. That’s all I can ask for.

England’s humiliation by Holland in the opening game did us a great favour. I didn’t have the slightest doubt about the team’s attitude or approach before our first game against Scotland, but there was a distinct increase in intensity when they all realised that shock upsets really could happen. The ruthless demolition of Scotland on Sunday was partly a reaction to that!

Ojha grabbed 4-21 as defending champions India overpowered Bangladesh by 25 runs. © AFP
We now appear to be just about everybody’s favourites to win very marginally ahead of India and we take that as a major compliment. I don’t understand why some teams try to fight off the favourites label. It’s just a label, after all.

I watched Pakistan’s game against England with a mixture of shock and disbelief. The home side bounced back in stunning fashion from their Dutch embarrassment but Pakistan were dreadful. Sure, sometimes things don’t go your way and you lose but there was no way Pakistan should have lost so badly.

Did they not realise what they were doing to themselves by scoring so slowly? If they win their final game against Holland then the group will be decided on net run rate with all three teams having won and lost a game.

After being thrashed by 48 runs, Pakistan is in a dreadful position of having to beat Holland by an even greater margin. Surely they could have reduced the margin of defeat! There appeared to be a catastrophic lack of thinking and planning.