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

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - STU­ART HESS

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.”

PIC­TURE: BACK­PAGE P

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.

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