At last, the ICC Cricket World Cup is here. Well, almost.
The 10 captains gathered in the east of London on Thursday for the pre-tournament press conference, and South Africa’s Faf du Plessis just wants it to “actually start now”.
He will have to wait another week for the real deal to get under way, when the Proteas take on England at The Oval (11.30am SA time) next Thursday, 30 May.
But at least the South Africans will take to the field on Friday, against Sri Lanka in Cardiff, where they will have a few selection issues to sort out.
Who should partner Quinton de Kock at the top – Hashim Amla or Aiden Markram? Should they lengthen the batting line-up by playing all three and one less bowler?
Considering the big scores in England recently, what about two spinners – especially with some doubts about Dale Steyn and perhaps Kagiso Rabada?
We’ll see what coach Ottis Gibson comes up with on Friday, but for now, Du Plessis feels that the bowlers will decide the tournament.
“Your bowling attack and the kind of wicket-takers that you have in your resources is going to be very important for us as captains. There are a few X-factor bowlers in every single team who are going to play a pivotal role in making sure your team is successful,” Du Plessis said on Thursday.
“But with good wickets come boundaries, so you just have to make sure you keep the boys nice and calm.
“There are a few bowlers who are hot – Jasprit Bumrah, multi-format bowler. Exciting spinner Rashid Khan is going to make an appearance in 50-over cricket. Pat Cummins from Australia.
“Generally, your batters will score runs on good wickets, so I think the team towards the end of the tournament will be one who has done really well with the ball, and have the capability to take wickets, even on flat wickets.”
Of course, the inevitable question about past failed World Cup campaigns came up, but Du Plessis produced a solid drive on the front foot.
“For me, it’s about the guys that are here – it’s a lot younger names on the team-sheet. We’ve got some players who have been at previous World Cups. There is no guarantee that South Africa will win the World Cup,” he said.
“If you’re playing your best cricket, and the opposition is better than you on the day, then you hold your head up high.
“You can’t control history, so it’s something I’m a firm believer in – you can’t control the past or the future.
“Just excited for the tournament to actually start now – it’s been a long process of looking forward to this World Cup, and in a week’s time, we will get there.
“All of us are really excited to try out this new tournament, where you play everyone once. I think it is a great format.”@ashfakmohamed