Hopefully, we've learnt from mistakes: Russell

If South Africa do end up choking in the latter stages of the World Cup, it will not be because of any tension filtering down from their coach.

By TT Bureau in Sydney
  • Published 17.03.15
AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis during a training session, at the SCG, on Monday

Sydney: If South Africa do end up choking in the latter stages of the World Cup, it will not be because of any tension filtering down from their coach.

Russell Domingo could not have presented a more relaxed demeanour than he did in front of the media on Monday, two days before South Africa's quarter-final clash versus Sri Lanka.

Domingo was clearly expecting questions about South Africa's history of crumbling under pressure in the knockout stages of tournaments and one scribe had barely started to speak that he interjected. "Choking! It's choking! It's taken you four minutes, that's a bit slow," he roared.

"It's been part of South African cricket for quite some time. Every time we get to these events, it's going to be questioned," Domingo added.

"We've faced the fact that in the past we have let opportunities slip by us. Hopefully, we have learned from the mistakes that previous sides made at events like this. And by all means, we want to avoid that happening to us. But at the end of the day, we just want to play good cricket if the opportunity arises."

South Africa have never won a knockout match in six World Cups, their three trips to the semi-finals coming when the last four was decided after group stages or the Super Six round. They have had their fair share of bad luck too, most notably when the method of calculating targets, after overs were lost due to rain, robbed them of the chance to beat England in the semi-final in 1992 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

"In 1992, I was 16-years-old. There's nothing we can do about what happened in 1992. All our energy is focused on what we need to do leading into this game," Domingo made it clear.

Domingo said he had been trying to get the squad to focus on more recent successes when they were in pressure situations. "When the pressure points come, we need to really focus hard on our strategies and our thinking, on what made us successful over the last year, on what helped us beat Sri Lanka when we toured there eight months ago," he said.

South African hopes of a maiden world title took something of a dent after defeats to India and Pakistan in the pool stage, but Domingo thinks a big performance is coming. "We've spoken long and hard about playing the big games and the big moments well," he said.

"The guys are really up for peaking for the latter stages of the competition. We've eased our way towards it. We probably haven't played the brand of cricket we've wanted to, but I'm expecting that to happen on Wednesday."

Domingo, however, admitted that his side had a challenge to contain Kumar Sangakkara, who seems to be doing no wrong with the bat.

"Kumar's in the form of his life. He's got four hundreds and you've got to think that there's a low score just around the corner," Domingo said.

"We've got some plans and some things we think we need to execute against him and we've discussed that quite a bit."

The Proteas have again used the services of South Africa-born explorer Mike Horn in a bid to ease the pressure on their side.

"He's done a lot scarier things in the world than facing Dale Steyn or Morne Morkel, he's done some extreme things," said Domingo.