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‘SA could crack under pressure’

Johannesburg: South Africa’s World Cup players are in danger of cracking under the massive pressure of expectation, according to former coach Bob Woolmer.

Woolmer said he feared Shaun Pollock’s side would not reach the second round. “My gut feeling is not very good at the moment. I’m hoping they sneak through,” he said. “The team is so tense. You can see it in the body language, their faces and their play.

“The media have built them up, and built them up, and built them up as the first hosts to win the World Cup.”

South Africa have lost two of their first three games against the West Indies and New Zealand. They already need other results to go their way as well as to win all their remaining games to reach the Super Six stage.

The team has been widely criticised in the media, with skipper Pollock and fast bowler Allan Donald the prime targets.

“It doesn’t look like it at the moment but South Africa are hard to beat at home,” Woolmer added. “They have to understand that and get stuck in and not worry about the Super Sixes.

“They have to try and relax and enjoy their cricket,” he added. “They are trying so hard that their cricket is suffering. They need to refocus and relax.”

“Confidence is low at present and the tension is palpably visible in the faces of the side — even Mark Boucher, normally the most confident individual, has become tense.”

Wicketkeeper Boucher dropped New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming on Sunday when he was on 53.

“Boucher has dropped two relatively straightforward catches during this event and when he did catch Craig McMillan off Allan Donald on Sunday his body language was one of intense relief.”

Woolmer said New Zealand and the West Indies deserved credit for their wins. “It may sound harsh, but I feel South Africa have not got better — they’ve stood still. It looks as if they are playing the same way as they used to, but with a team which is not as experienced or probably as good as it once was.”

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