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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 February, 2003, 11:45 GMT
Proteas endure rain pain
By Martin Gough
BBC Sport in South Africa

It is hardly surprising that South Africans are not big fans of rain rules.

Meyrick Pringle and Alec Stewart
Pringle was a regular after South Africa's isolation was ended

As the rain fell at the Wanderers last Sunday, dealing a major blow to the national team's World Cup hopes, it must have all seemed very familiar to Meyrick Pringle.

The pace bowler was part of the side that stared up at the Sydney scoreboard on a drizzly night in 1992 to find themselves needing an impossible 21 from a single ball to beat England in the World Cup semi-final.

But it is there that comparisons between those two sides stop.

The 1992 South Africans had only been included in the tournament at the last minute after their country's return from sporting isolation.

Their finest game in the tournament was arguably a victory over West Indies in Christchurch.

Pringle's opening spell saw Brian Lara, Richie Richardson and Carl Hooper and Keith Arthurton fall in the space of 16 minutes, bringing him career-best figures of four for 11.

"We were underdogs, No-one really knew about us and we just went there to enjoy ourselves and get some experience for the future," Pringle recalls.

"It just happened that we did so well. We beat Australia in the first game, lost the next two and then came back and beat the West Indies in Christchurch and on went from there."

Eleven years later, it was the West Indies who gained an upset, with a three-run win in the opening match of the tournament.

Black clouds over Wanderers
The weather did South Africa no favours against New Zealand

And last Sunday's nine-wicket defeat to New Zealand left the hosts, already under massive pressure to win their first World Cup, feeling the heat from an expectant public.

"The South African public expect a lot from us and we try and give it to them.

"But sometimes they must realise that we are under pressure and things don't always go our way."

The careers of South Africa's opening bowlers in 1992 have contrasted too.

Pringle made the last of 21 international appearances in 1995, although he played provincial cricket until the end of last season, finishing with 429 first-class wickets.

But Allan Donald, also 36, has only in the last year faced suggestions that he should call an end to a glittering career.

Pringle was captained by Kepler Wessels and Hansie Cronje during his international career, and believes current skipper Shaun Pollock cannot compare to either man.

"Kepler Wessels was a phenomenal captain, both on and off the field, and Hansie Cronje was probably the best captain I've ever been under.

Shaun Pollock
Captain Pollock feels the weight of public expectation

"Those two stand out and I think Shaun is behind them. His captaincy needs looking at."

Pringle is especially critical of Pollock's negative tactics as New Zealand closed in on victory, needing 44 from 51 balls.

"He only had four people in the ring. He should have taken more of a gamble. We had to take wickets urgently and he should have put in a couple more slips."

But Pringle still believes the home side stand a chance of fulfilling their dreams of their fans.

"In all the World Cups we've done well, got so close and haven't made it. Here we are with one of the worst starts that we could have had but we could still end up winning it."




SEE ALSO
Fleming stuns South Africa
18 Feb 03 |  Team Pages
Pollock remains hopeful
16 Feb 03 |  South Africa
Fleming hails fine performance
16 Feb 03 |  New Zealand


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