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Kirsten defends Pollock

Johannesburg: Gary Kirsten leapt to the defence of Shaun Pollock on Tuesday after South Africa’s captain was criticised for his handling of the side during two World Cup defeats.

Pollock has been taken to task in newspapers for being formulaic and uninspired in Group B matches against West Indies and New Zealand.

Kirsten, one of the most senior members of South Africa’s squad, said: “Personally, I think Shaun Pollock’s done a very good job in this team.

“He came into the job under very trying circumstances when the match-fixing scandal broke out and, for the next year and a half, we played probably the best cricket we’ve ever played.

“I don’t think you can single out individuals — certainly not the captain — for a lack of performance in our World Cup. It’s all of us to blame.”

On Monday, teammate Herschelle Gibbs suggested that the side still missed the inspirational leadership skills of former captain Hansie Cronje.

Kirsten, though, said he had no idea why some members of the squad continued to hark back to the days of the controversial and corruption-stained cricketer, who died in a plane crash last year.

“I haven’t a clue — you must ask individuals that. I certainly don’t feel that. This team has done exceptionally well in tournaments since Hansie’s cricket was over. If you look at our win ratio, it’s high up there still.

“Everyone’s got to look at themselves and say where they let the side down. It’s a team effort... you can’t start singling out people.”

Now at his third World Cup and a veteran of nearly 200 one-day Internationals, Kirsten conceded that the nine-wicket defeat by New Zealand at the Wanderers on Sunday was one of the low points of his career.

“We’re going through a very disappointing phase because expectation within the team was so high. The defeat to New Zealand is probably emotionally one of the worst defeats I’ve had in my involvement with the team.

“It’s a tough one to deal with but life deals those blows and it’s up to us to overcome it.

“We know it’s a big thing and it’s very disappointing for everyone who supports us. We do feel it. It’s a bitter pill to swallow.

“I said before the tournament that one-day cricket is so unpredictable — one guy can get a hundred and change the course of a game. We’ve had two guys get a hundred against us and that turned the games around.”

Sri Lanka and New Zealand top the Group B standings with eight points. South Africa, West Indies, Kenya and Canada have four points each, while Bangladesh have lost their opening two matches.

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