The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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There is no easy road to winning the Cup: Pollock

Cape Town: It’s hard enough trying to take the World Cup from Australia.

The difficulties host South Africa face are magnified greatly when the pressures of playing in front of a demanding home crowd are added to the mix.

No host nation has ever won the World Cup. While the thought of bucking the trend seems intimidating, South African captain Shaun Pollock points out that records are made to be broken.

“There is no better time to do it than now,” he said just three days before the opening game against the West Indies.

“There has been a lot of nervous energy and excitement in our build-up at home. But that is part of the experience which we are relishing, and we will take that energy and excitement with us onto the pitch.”

The hosts are being very careful not to get ahead of themselves in the rush to meet their fans’ expectations of a place in the final or even an ultimate triumph.

“We are focussed on our first game against the West Indies,” Pollock said. “After that, we will focus on each game as it comes. There is no easy road to winning the World Cup.”

Pollock is going to be one of the key ingredients in South Africa’s bid to do what their rugby team did when it hosted the World Cup in 1995.

He has become the third most experienced one-day International captain in the world behind New Zealand’s Stephen Fleming and Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya. He has led South Africa to 54 wins out of the 84 matches in which he has been at the helm.

After a shaky start in which he inherited the reins from the discredited Hansie Cronje, he has become progressively more creative and intuitive in the driving seat, making changes when a somewhat formulaic plan seems to be having little success.

Critically, he has not lost his ability as a bowler to squeeze the runs out of a rampant batting line-up, and as a batsman to hit the ball cleanly and to all corners of the ground.

His burgeoning confidence is in part due to the maturing of some of the players around him — notably Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis and Makhaya Ntini. These three have grown from promising young players into match-winners in any form of the game.

When South Africa rose to the top of the somewhat puzzling ICC rankings as a Test-playing nation early in January after defeating Pakistan in a home series, the Australians were justified in being derisive of that status.

Australians also point out that they smashed South Africa 5-1 in the last one-day series the two played in South Africa. (AP)

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