South Africa skipper A B de Villiers on Tuesday expressed concerns over allegations of ball-tampering against the English side and seemed a bit amazed at the host bowlers’ ability to reverse swing the ball “a bit quicker than the rest of the teams” in the ongoing ICC Champions Trophy.
The hosts have been hit by allegations of ball-tampering ahead of their high-voltage semi-final, slated to be held here on Wednesday against South Africa.
“If they are doing something funny with the ball, then it’s definitely a concern, yes, but we’ve got no proof of that. Look, they seem to get it to reverse a bit quicker than the rest of the teams so maybe they’ve just got really good skill in their bowlers,” de Villiers told reporters on the eve of the match.
“We’ve tried, as well —— I think all teams try to do that, and we haven’t really managed to succeed in that, but we’ll try that again tomorrow and see if our bowlers can find that skill to reverse the ball.
“It’s something that the umpires and the ICC will probably look into why England and some of the other teams might get it to reverse quicker. That is really not up to me to decide or to comment on that. But if there is something funny happening, then it’s definitely a concern, yes,” he added.
Even as Dale Steyn’s availability for the match remained in doubt, de Villiers asserted that they have enough firepower to emerge victorious without the world’s numero uno fast bowler.
“We’ve won games without him and with him. It’s a semi-final game. It’s a big knock-out game, and there will be a lot of pressure around, a lot of hype. Not having him on the side will be big for us, but then again, like I said, we’re playing good cricket and we’re confident we can beat England without Dale,” de Villiers said.
“I said before that I don’t believe we’re lost without him.”
Steyn’s fitness is being monitored as he was said to be struggling after their last game against the West Indies. He bowled six overs in the rain-affected match — his only appearance in the tournament — but has not trained at full intensity in the lead up to the semi-final.
“He’s obviously one of the best in the world, and he’s good against any team in any format. He’s taking another day off just to make sure we rest him really well, managing his workload really well, and hopefully we can have him on the park. He’s close to 100 per cent, he’s running around.”
Though England will be playing in front of the home crowd, the Proteas skipper felt the pressure will be on the hosts.
“I believe last two matches were big crunch games which might give us a lot of confidence, and I believe we can beat them. But yeah, if they’re playing in front of the home crowd, I think all the pressure is on them.
“We’ll make sure we do the basics well, like I said before, and if things go our way we’ll end up on top.”
South Africa will look to shed their big tournament ’chokers’ tag that has haunted them for long when they go into the marquee clash at the Kennington Oval.
“Look, we’ve had two big games, the last two games we played, and we didn’t choke there. Obviously that’s a good start. We owned up to it before. It’s something that’s been around for a while. I believe all teams choke in certain situations. It’s just a —— we somehow managed to get that tag behind our names.
“Unless we win this tournament, people will say you’re chokers, so no matter what happens, it’s something we’ve dealt with. I think we’re very comfortable with it in the team. We know what we’re capable as a team, we’re in a very good space.
We’re not thinking of stuff like that. It’s not something that really bothers us at the moment.
Keywords: ICC Champions Trophy, South Africa-England semi-final, reverse swing, ball tampering controversy.