Collingwood tips hat to Proteas
Paul Collingwood believes South Africa are displaying all the traits of ICC World Twenty20 champions after they saw off England by seven wickets at Trent Bridge.
The Proteas produced an immaculate all-round performance to see off the hosts in the first Super Eights encounter for both sides.
Captain Collingwood chose to bat first but his side could muster only 111 against a disciplined and varied attack.
Jacques Kallis’ unbeaten 57 then saw South Africa to their target with 10 balls to spare.
“Probably a good total on that wicket was more like 150, I think,” Collingwood admitted.
“It was a pretty good deck. Obviously we lost early wickets in the first six overs and they really put us behind the eight ball.
“And I think they really proved why they are the favourites in the competition. They set the standards with their fielding and the bowling, and put us under a lot of pressure to rebuild the innings and get a big partnership going.
“You know, 111 was never really going to be enough.”
South Africa skipper Graeme Smith is well aware of the favourites' tag many have given his team.
However, he remains entirely focused on reaching the last four, where the competition enters its knockout phase.
“I think it’s been on our heads since the first game we played,” he said.
“It’s not important to us. This phase of the tournament, the important thing is to get a semi-final and move on to that challenge.
“We’re thoroughly enjoying our cricket at the moment. We’re enjoying being in England.
“It’s been an incredibly successful campaign for us for a period of time now and this is the last challenge for us before we get a break.
"We’re just excited by the prospect of the next game and that’s the West Indies.”
Smith’s side go into that match knowing another victory will all but secure a semi-final berth.
The left-handed opener, who made just 11 today, stressed the importance of beating the tournament hosts as another step towards the Proteas’ goal.
“Today was big game for us - playing England in England in a competition like this,” he added.
“The crowd was quite hostile up front and the only way to control the situation was to really focus on our performance and the level of performance we can play.
“We know there was a lot of pressure on England today with a big crowd and a big build-up.
“If we could just create that environment where we just squeeze them - that’s the challenge for us.
“We did that today. We were calm, we were focused, we were well led by Dale (Steyn) and ‘Parny’ (Wayne Parnell) up front and everyone else followed, so you can’t argue today with the way we performed.”
It was South Africa’s bowlers, including spin duo Johan Botha and Roelof van der Merwe, who laid the foundation for victory.
Man-of-the-match Kallis, who also picked up two wickets, used all his experience to see the Proteas over the line.
“Chasing 110 we didn’t need to attack too much,” Kallis revealed. “We needed one guy to bat at roughly a run-a-ball and we needed guys to play around him.
“There are times when you’ve got to play sensibly in this game chasing totals. Sometimes you can get into a little bit of trouble if you go too hard at those totals.
“But as a batting unit we’ve chased totals like that before and the guys know how to go about that.”
Collingwood conceded England had planned to work around the formula that saw them beat Pakistan to reach the Super Eights.
They were able to make first use of a wearing wicket but South Africa’s excellence, such as van der Merwe’s diving catch at mid-on to dismiss Kevin Pietersen, pegged England back.
“We’ve just won the last game very convincingly against Pakistan and I think it was pretty similar conditions with the wicket,” Collingwood added.
“So we were hoping to get another total like that and put them under pressure with the turning ball in the second innings.
“Today it was just the fact that we lost so many early wickets, so it was due to some bad shots or some exceptional fielding by then.
“As I said, it only takes sometimes a 50/50 chance and a great catch like KP’s catch to turn the game. I think that’s why they are the favourites.”