BEHARDIEN BACKS YOUNGSTERS TO SHINE
South Africa’s T20 side may be inexperienced, but they are in top form domestically as they prepare to face Sri Lanka
LONG before his appearance under the TV lights yesterday, Farhaan Behardien’s excitement about captaining South Africa had been illustrated in requests to coach Russell Domingo about the times of training sessions and possible T20 tactics. He wanted to know from the media manager about when he had to be available for press conferences.
That all happened while they were busy with the third Test against Sri Lanka last week.
He’s flown his family up from Cape Town to see him toss the coin today before the opening T20 International against Sri Lanka at what has been his home-ground for 11 years as a professional.
The old phrase “bursting with pride” might, in the case of Behardien this week, be an understatement.
“I’m super-excited, it’s a very proud moment in my career,” Behardien said yesterday.
“Super-excited” could be a pervading feeling throughout this South African squad, devoid of superstars, but packed with players keen to impress and in very good T20 form.
They’ve not had a lot of time together as a group, having only gathered on Tuesday, but training sessions have been intense and Behardien indicated they have a responsibility to the big names not involved in the three-match T20 series to continue the good play South Africa have produced.
“Sri Lanka has not done too well with the red ball but I’m sure they are looking forward to playing some white ball cricket. The (SA) ODI and Test side have laid a foundation throughout the summer and we, as a group, have high expectations of ourselves. If we drop our intensity against Sri Lanka we could let them into the game and (help) build momentum for them for the ODI series.”
Besides creating some team spirit, much time this week has been spent planning the composition of the starting team. The squad is blessed with a number of batsmen who can fulfil the the roles of No 3 and four in the order.
Behardien highlighted David Miller, who this week hoped to bat in a position higher up the order than normal. “I think I’ll grant David Miller his wish,” Behardien said, no doubt recalling the 120 not out Miller scored at No 4 for the Knights against the Titans in the T20 Challenge this season.
However, the likes of Theunis de Bruyn, Heino Kuhn and Mangaliso Mosehle have all had success at domestic level when batting up the order. “What we’ve reiterated within the group is that a lot of the players can fulfil different roles,” Behardien said.
“Heino’s opened the batting a lot for the Titans, so he’s not unfamiliar with that role, Mangi could slot in at three but he’s also batted at five and six for the Titans. It depends on the way the team shapes up and what conditions are like.”
It’s a similar theme for the bowlers. “Everyone has been told to expect to bowl at any time in the game.”
Behardien said his style of captaincy would be a very relaxed one, with an emphasis on players taking responsibility for their roles and creating a relaxed atmosphere in the change-room.
“(My) style is for the players to empower themselves to make their own decisions, that’s a style I will try and put across to the players. When the pressure moments are on they need to make good decisions. We must empower batsmen and bowlers to make those good decisions.”
HARD AT WORK: Russell Domingo, coach of South Africa, (left) and T20 skipper Farhaan Behardien will have a rookie team to lead as they face Sri Lanka in their first clash of the three-match series at SuperSport Park tonight.