The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Smith confident Pollock will strike
- tri-series l Fletcher all praise for ‘dangerous’ Flintoff

Bristol: South Africa captain Graeme Smith is backing former skipper Shaun Pollock to come good in the remainder of the triangular one-day series.

South Africa will face England in the final at Lord’s Saturday after the hosts’ six wicket win over Zimbabwe at Bristol Sunday ended the challenge of Heath Streak’s men.

Before that South Africa still have two matches — against England in a day-night fixture at Edgbaston Tuesday and against Zimbabwe at the Rose Bowl Thursday.

Pollock, 29, has been supremely economical, with his 38 overs in the series costing just a touch above three apiece on average. But he has only taken two wickets so far.

Smith, who became captain after Pollock was sacked following South Africa’s disappointing World Cup campaign, said: “Pollock’s really bowling well. He’s leading from the front, getting a bit of pace and movement.

“He’d like a few wickets but I really think it will turn for him if he keeps doing the simple things well as he is at the moment.”

Pollock knows Edgbaston from his time at Warwickshire but the ground is infamous in South Africa as the place where four years ago the team lost the World Cup semi-final against Australia.

Pollock is one of four survivors still in South Africa’s one-day side — opening batsman Herschelle Gibbs, allrounder Jacques Kallis and wicketkeeper Mark Boucher are the others — ahead of what will be the Proteas’ first game at Edgbaston since that dramatic match.

Meanwhile, South Africa coach Eric Simons said Monday that Smith’s increased composure had been a big factor in his side’s march to the final.

Simons said, “I think he took big strides in Bangladesh (where South Africa toured before arriving in England).

“The things he’s doing in the field, the way he’s digested information, he’s remained a lot calmer,” Simons said.

“A lot of captaincy is about being calm in crisis and we’ve certainly seen that on this trip. Obviously if the team is winning it makes things a lot easier. But the guys have gelled together off field.”

Simons insisted there would be no let-up by his side after they beat England by seven wickets on Thursday, having lost their opening match of the meet against them by six wickets.

“The guys are very hungry for success. If we can have another good win against England, it will obviously put a lot of pressure on them in terms of how they play against us.”

He added: “You never want a situation when you walk on field to play for your country, regardless of what’s at stake, and not feel it’s a game you must win.”

England not to relax

England coach Duncan Fletcher insisted his team, featuring several new faces after their first round World Cup exit, would not be easing up.

“The most important thing is to win,” said Fletcher.

Fletcher said Flintoff’s 37-ball 47 not out which saw England home Sunday had come as no surprise to him. “He’s a dangerous player, he can take the game away from the opposition.

“The problem is he likes to score runs. Sometimes you can’t, you have to learn to be a horses for courses player,” explained Fletcher in response to criticism that Flintoff, 25, was too reliant on boundaries.

But Flintoff’s form pales beside that of Kallis. In three series innings, Kallis has made two hundreds and an unbeaten 82, leaving him with an extraordinary average of 314.

He didn’t have to bat against Zimbabwe Saturday but his lively pace bowling saw him lead the attack with three for 47. Fletcher said of Kallis: He’s got a very good temperament. He values his wicket. But if required he can play shots from the word go.”

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