South Africa: Proteas - 'C-Word' Off Limits for World Cup

(file photo).

Cape Town — On Tuesday, Ottis Gibson gave a press conference where a sizeable group of Cape Town media gathered to quiz the Proteas coach on all things Cricket World Cup.

Gibson gave fitness updates on Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada, spoke about Hashim Amla's quest for form, opened up on the complexities of team selection and gave insight into his squad's preparations on and off the field for what is their latest charge at bringing home a World Cup title for the first time.

And then, 18 minutes into the press briefing, it happened.

"Have you spoken about 1999 and the run out and people maybe bringing that up again once you get over there?" a journalist probed.

"You mean the thing that you just brought up now?" Gibson offered in return, met by nervous laughter.

"We haven't spoken about that."

It was all light-hearted and innocent, but the hard truth is that this Proteas side remains haunted by that Lance Klusener/Allan Donald catastrophe no less than 20 years after it happened.

Rest assured, Gibson will be asked about that incident and others countless more times between now and the end of the World Cup.

"We've had discussions around everything, and we've decided that we aren't going to speak about it ... so when you ask about it then it is going to be a no comment," the coach added.

"The decision is that we're not going to talk about that.

"There are seven or eight youngsters there that have never been in that situation before, so why ask them questions about that?"

The 'C-word' is off limits.

Instead, this South African group is approaching the World Cup with a sense of freedom and little expectation.

Their first match, after all, is a clash against the hosts and tournament favourites England at The Oval on May 30.

"We're looking forward to that game," Gibson said.

"For us to play the No 1 team in the world and the tournament favourites in their own country is great for us. It gives us a feeling of where we are as a team and we've got nothing to lose, really.

"We're not the favourites anymore. Normally we've gone as the favourites and that hasn't worked out for us, so we're happy to be trying to fly a little bit under the radar and try and produce our best on the pitch."


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