Proteas in tough Cham­pi­ons group

The Witness - Wheels - - SPORT -

THE 2017 ICC Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy is set to be a com­pet­i­tive tour­na­ment for the Proteas, as the top eight ranked ODI sides will bat­tle it out in the 18-day tour­na­ment from June 1 to 18, 2017 in Eng­land.

South Africa are placed in Group B, along­side Sri Lanka, In­dia and Pak­istan, and Proteas skip­per AB de Vil­liers is look­ing for­ward to guid­ing his team to their first sil­ver­ware in nearly 19-years — since South Africa won the in­au­gu­ral tour­na­ment in 1998.

“I’m es­pe­cially look­ing for­ward to the ICC Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy in Eng­land and Wales next year as it is an­other op­por­tu­nity for our ODI unit to make an at­tempt at win­ning sil­ver­ware for South Africa.

“There has been a lot of fo­cus on Twenty20 cricket over the last few months and an up­com­ing tri­an­gu­lar se­ries against the West Indies and Aus­tralia is the start of an im­por­tant jour­ney of prepa­ra­tion lead­ing up to the tour­na­ment,” he added.

South Africa are sched­uled to start a tri-se­ries be­tween West Indies and Aus­tralia in the Caribbean on Fri­day.

And while De Vil­liers ad­mits that their group does seem in­cred­i­bly tough, he is con­fi­dent that they will over­come the Asian “gi­ants”.

“We are in an in­cred­i­bly tough group with the three Asian gi­ants in In­dia, Pak­istan and Sri Lanka, so we are go­ing to have to play at our op­ti­mum best to have a chance of lift­ing that elu­sive tro­phy,” he said.

De Vil­liers also added that he was look­ing for­ward to trav­el­ling and play­ing in Eng­land and Wales where he has al­ways en­joyed play­ing cricket.

“I par­tic­u­larly en­joy play­ing cricket in Eng­land and Wales; with its rich cricket her­itage, its renowned venues with just the right mix of tra­di­tion and moder­nity, and cul­tur­ally di­verse and ap­pre­cia­tive crowds, all of which are per­fect in­gre­di­ents to make it a mem­o­rable event.

“We have al­ways en­joyed great sup­port in Eng­land and Wales, there is a pas­sion­ate South Africa ex­pat crowd, so hope­fully that can count in our favour,” De Vil­liers said.

“It is go­ing to be a highly com­pet­i­tive tour­na­ment as it fea­tures the eight top ODI play­ing na­tions and the quick na­ture of the sched­ule opens up the pos­si­bil­ity of good qual­ity and ac­tion-packed viewing for those 18 days.

“Ev­ery match will be a vir­tual knock-out so there will be plenty at stake and lit­tle room for slip-ups.”

South Africa play their first Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy game on June 3, 2017 against Sri Lanka. — Sport24.

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