24 August 1997
By: Colin Bryden
Source: Sunday Times
A NEW sense of purpose and discipline has been pledged by the
South African cricket team following a "jolt" when they lost at
home against Australia last season. Managing director Ali Bacher
had heart-to-heart talks with 18 of the 19 contracted players
during the winter to communicate the United Cricket Board's
requirements, compiling his own assessments of the frame of mind
of each cricketer going into a 12-month period during which
South Africa will play in 16 Tests and as many as 28 one-day
"The players got a jolt last season," said Dr Bacher. "The defeat
by the Aussies hurt them and they really want to turn the tables
when they tour Australia this season."
Among the measures aimed at making sure the players are focused
on the task at hand will be a ban on promotional activities
during the two days immediately before home Test matches.
Dr Bacher said his travels around the country had followed
discussions between senior board members, including president
Krish Mackerdhuj and the convenor of selectors, Peter Pollock.
"I spent about an hour with each player individually, going
through their new contracts and conveying our views on some
aspects which we thought might have been lacking," said Dr
"We were concerned that the pride and passion of playing
for South Africa might have diminished. The initial euphoria of
being back in international cricket has worn off and a reaction
might have set in. Discipline goes hand in hand with pride in
playing for your country. It is so easy to get diverted by
commercial or other activities.
"We also wanted to emphasise the importance of tradition, which
includes respect for their own senior players, officials and
former great players."
As a result of the discussions, the two greatest South African
batsmen of modern times will assist the national team's
Graeme Pollock will join national squad in Durban during their
pre-season matches next month and Barry Richards, now based in
Perth, will be with them for the first week of their tour of
Australia in November.
Dr Bacher said a particular emphasis this season would be on
winning series and finals.
"Last season the team had some excellent wins but we lost two
series," he added.
"South Africa's record was 4 wins and 4 defeats in 9 matches.
Over the same period Australia also played 9. They won 5 and
"Australia were acclaimed as the best side in the world but the
perception of the South African team was that it was a poor
season. The difference was that Australia won the big matches
and took the series."
British Lions rugby captain Martin Johnson was cited as a role
"After the Lions won the first test against the Springboks he
was barely e***d," noted Bacher. "He said it was only one step
towards winning the series. That sort of focus and toughness is
what we need."
Bacher was encouraged by the response of the players to the
"They accept that a huge effort will be needed in the next 12
months," he said. "They will be spending a lot of time away from
home but they understand the effort that is needed."
The players will assemble in Cape Town on September 1 to start
preparing for the tour of Pakistan later that month.
Dr Bacher's assessment of the players:
HANSIE CRONJE: Extraordinary commitment to SA cricket. Sometimes
too harsh on himself. Dedicated to leading a winning team.
PAUL ADAMS: Unaffected by his ascent to fame. He has kept his
feet on the ground and enjoys his cricket.
ADAM BACHER: Focused and determined to succeed at Test level.
DARYLL CULLINAN: Has matured as a person and his performances
ALLAN DONALD: A role model for all cricketers with his dedication
and pride in playing for South Africa.
FANIE DE VILLIERS: Contracted to end of December. Even if he does
not succeed in getting back into the team, can play a big role in
promoting cricket, particularly in rural areas and among the
HERSCHELLE GIBBS: Very laid-back and not stressed by
international cricket. Singled out by Steve Waugh as an
exceptional striker of the ball, there is no need to change him.
ANDREW HUDSON: Very disappointed only to be given a B category
contract. Determined to win back a regular place.
JACQUES KALLIS: Quietly determined to prove himself as a top-
class international player.
GARY KIRSTEN: By his own admission lost confidence last season
but is back to normal. His temperament and determination are
LANCE KLUSENER: Personifies the pride and passion that is needed
in an international player.
CRAIG MATTHEWS: Contracted to end of December. Has much to offer
either as a player or as an administrator.
BRIAN McMILLAN: In exceptionally good shape. As important as his
batting and bowling is his mental toughness.
SHAUN POLLOCK: Admitted his bowling last season was not up to his
best but feels he has regained his rhythm. Determined to be a
JONTY RHODES: A year ago he had lost some motivation and wasn't
enjoying the limelight and being away from home for long periods.
Has come to terms with his situation and is bursting with
DAVE RICHARDSON: The team's senior player is a vital link
between the board and the team who have appointed him as their
commercial manager. He ensures there are no conflicts between
deals done by the board and the players. Remains focused on his
BRETT SCHULTZ: Has astounded trainers at the Sports Science
Institute with his fitness and hard work in the gym. Hungry for
sustained Test success after numerous injury blows.
PAT SYMCOX: Another mentally tough player. Preparing for season
by bowling for two hours, twice a day, five days a week, the
equivalent of 60 overs a day.
The only contracted player not yet seen by Dr Bacher is Derek
Crookes, who is playing club cricket in England.
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