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Last Updated:  Thursday, 6 February, 2003, 10:35 GMT
Time to make amends
Allan Donald
By Allan Donald
South African fast bowler

I read an article the other day that said this South Africa team is the best ever but I have to say I disagree.

The 1999 team was better - I believe the best team in that tournament - but we messed up in a couple of matches, especially that fateful tied semi-final against Australia.

The current squad is certainly not a bad one, there is certainly a strong first-choice eleven with the majority of guys in good nick.

But the key will be whether the fringe guys in the squad can slot in seamlessly if there are injuries, in the way that guys did four years ago.

Lance Klusener, Donald and Hansie Cronje
Losing the 1999 semi-final was a bitter experience

The last four years have been a long road, both for the team and for me.

We had to recover from a heart-breaking loss and I've had my own struggles with injury.

I only really decided that I definitely wanted to make a fourth World Cup a priority was when I was injured in the Newlands Test against Australia last year.

I feel in better condition now than I have for a couple of years. Not having to play in Tests has helped and I've played 22 one-day internationals already this year.

That is a world away from the way I felt after than final ball run-out in the 1999 semi-final.

There were just no words to describe the feeling in the dressing-room - I thought the world was just going to swallow me up and spit me out after.

But Hansie Cronje said that it wasn't my fault, that I should never have been there in the first place.

One positive to come out of it, though, was that it brought out the best of my character - it tested me under the most extreme conditions and I worked out how to get out of it.

It was with those kind of mental preparations in mind that the whole team went on a mini-boot-camp in the Drakensburg mountains last week.

We were put under pressure to see how we would respond to our mates, but some of the squad were more successful than others.

The first day saw us doing a 12km run through the bush using a compass.

Allan Donald and Jacques Kallis in training
The team are fighting fit

Most of the team were home in just under an hour but it took Gary Kirsten, Monde Zondeki and me over three!

The rest of the build-up has slowly gathered momentum, with some of the guys showing a bit of rust after a month off in the first warm-up game.

There is a definitely pressure on us as hosts - this sports-mad country demands winners - but we have to accept that pressure and thrive on it.

I'll be glad when we can get all of this final preparation out of the way and get out onto the field against the West Indies on Saturday.

I'm sure the atmosphere at Newlands will be amazing.

I'm not nervous but there's a certain nervous excitement and I just want to get this show on the road.

Donald dreams of glory
25 Jan 03 |  South Africa
Donald quits Test stage
25 Feb 02 |  Australia v South Africa
Lightning strikes for final time
25 Feb 02 |  Australia v South Africa
Donald's decade comes full circle
28 Sep 01 |  India in South Africa

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