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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 16:27 GMT

Time to take some wickets
Allan Donald
By Allan Donald
South Africa fast bowler

South Africa against Canada at East London may not have stood out on the fixture cards when this World Cup began, but for me especially it is crucial.

We need to win - and after the last week we must not take that for granted - but it is also an important match for the entire side as we look to prepare for a crunch match against Sri Lanka.

I know if I have a bad game against Canada then I'm history. It is as simple as that.

Allan Donald
The pressure to perform is intense

I need to bowl 10 overs for 26 and get three wickets, get my confidence back to hang onto my place in the side.

There are so many technical aspects to my game that could have been playing a part in a disappointing two games so far, but the key has been how tense I have been.

Normally I'm very relaxed, but observers have said that I've looked tight and frustrated, that my body language has not looked right.

My uncle suggested some relaxation exercises - something I haven't tried before - and they have really helped.

It is a technique he uses with his hockey players. You use some soft music, relax and work through the problems.

I've gone back to a longer run in search of some rhythm

I've had to swallow my pride in dealing with this. It is the first time that I have faced this much stick, and that I haven't performed when it really mattered.

I've gone back to a longer run in search of some rhythm and the coaches have already said I look more relaxed in the nets.

Now it's a matter of getting it right in the middle.

The way the schedule has been put together could not have been better. It has been good to get the tough games out of the way and we did well against Bangladesh.

Monday's game against Sri Lanka is, of course, in the back of everyone's minds but we cannot allow our concentration to waver from Canada.

They showed against West Indies that they are no rollover. They are under no pressure because they have nothing to lose: we have everything to lose.

Canadian all-rounder John Davison
Davison had the time of his life against West Indies

Equally, John Davison thrived on being able to play fearlessly.

He clearly thrives on taking on an attack so we will have to be aggressive early on a Buffalo Park pitch that is expected to have a decent amount of bounce.

We know that we have improvements to make in our fielding too.

As a team we have been known as brilliant fielders but there has been an occasional lapse of late. We cannot rely on Jonty Rhodes any longer.

Just as he used to set the tone - almost like a bowler - by taking a vital wicket, someone else has to take the lead in the field, maybe Herschelle Gibbs or Nicky Boje.

The other big Group B match this weekend is between Sri Lanka and West Indies, but at least that no longer has a bearing on what we do.

If we win the next two matches then there will be three teams tied on 16 points, looking for two places.

We have already had wins over Kenya and Bangladesh, and another clinical performance here will mean we have the edge in terms of the all-important net run rate.

Links to more South Africa stories


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