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Monday , January 24 , 2011
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Kepler Wessels: Chokers tag will stay till we actually do it
- A TELEGRAPH EXCLUSIVE Former SA captain says India favourites for Cup

Centurion: Former South Africa captain Kepler Wessels, who first played for Australia, spoke to The Telegraph on Sunday afternoon.

Q Are you happy with South Africa’s selection for the World Cup?

A It’s a pretty good squad, all the bases are covered. From a balance point of view, it’s fine for the subcontinent.

What’s going to be critical for South Africa?

The performance of our top-order, without a doubt. Batting first, we’ll have to look at touching the 280-300 mark.

Bowlers or batsmen, who will find it more challenging?

The bowlers definitely... The length to be bowled in the subcontinent will have to be different, can’t be the length perfected for wickets at home... The line, too, will have to be different because our bowlers get a lot out of the wickets in South Africa... Over the years, our batsmen have adjusted well in the subcontinent.

Is it a worry that top gun Jacques Kallis will be making a post-injury comeback?

Not really... He will, after all, be playing the warm-up matches. The rehab is on track.

Biggest threat to South Africa...

Will only be in the quarter final onwards... The way I see it, to win a World Cup, you need to win three matches (quarters onwards).

Are you going to be travelling with the Graeme Smiths, possibly as a batting consultant?


A World Cup has its own pressures. What was your experience like?

The pressure, indeed, is very different and it’s really felt in the knockout stages... There’s no tomorrow then.

You led South Africa on their World Cup debut, in 1992... Two decades later, what’s uppermost in your mind?

That it was so huge here... The entire country was behind us... That the players were largely unknown worked to our advantage.

Contrary to the expectations, South Africa made the semi-finals (where they lost to England). Did that surprise you?

Yes, nobody expected us to go so far, but we’d prepared very well and were supremely fit... I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said I’d expected us to make the semi-finals, but I wasn’t surprised either.

Why is it that despite outstanding players, South Africa have never won a World Cup?

Difficult to explain... We did have good teams in 1996 and 1999, in particular... A combination of factors played a part.

Your take on the chokers tag...

It will stay till we actually do it... The label was given after the 1999 World Cup, I think, and has stuck since then.

What would you tell Smith?

Not too much... We aren’t the favourites, so that way, there’s less pressure. We should just play to our ability and, then, hope for the best.

The favourites...

India... At home, they’ll have a lot going for them.

But could the home advantage turn into a disadvantage?

Will depend on the start... Good wins at the beginning will give India the momentum to surge ahead.

Finally... Are you applying for the coach’s position with the national team?

(Grins) No, no... I'm happy with the way I am in life.

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