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Graeme Smith Highlights South Africa’s Need for a Quality All-Rounder at the No.7 Position Ahead of the World Cup

Cricket World Cup 2023: Former South African captain Graeme Smith has expressed concerns about South Africa’s batting depth and the absence of a quality all-rounder in the team, potentially affecting their chances in the upcoming World Cup. Smith, who retired from international cricket in 2014, also emphasized the importance of key players like Kagiso Rabada and Keshav Maharaj in shaping the team’s performance.

In the past, South Africa boasted world-class all-rounders such as Lance Klusener, Jacques Kallis, and Shaun Pollock. However, the current South African team, led by Temba Bavuma, lacks a quality batter at the No. 7 position.

Smith discussed this batting deficiency, saying, “Where they fall short is, they don’t have a lot of depth in batting like some of the other teams have. Who is going to be that all-rounder for them at No. 7? Marco Jansen or someone else.”

To succeed in the World Cup, Smith believes that left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj’s control and wicket-taking ability will be crucial for the team, especially if Bavuma wants to make an impact as a leader. “Whether they go with two spinners or not, Keshav Maharaj needs to have an outstanding tournament,” Smith added.

Smith, who scored nearly 7000 runs in ODIs during his career, also highlighted the significance of Kagiso Rabada’s role in the absence of Anrich Nortje and Sisanda Magala due to injuries. “Rabada, we all know how world-class he is, and we would like him to have an incredible World Cup tournament,” Smith emphasized.

Nortje’s absence, particularly on batting-friendly tracks, could be a challenge for South Africa. Smith noted, “I think Nortje, in particular, to win in India in a long tournament, you need players who can contribute. Nortje’s pace through the air and wicket-taking ability are certainly going to be missed.”

According to Smith, the key to South Africa’s World Cup campaign lies in the performance of the top six batters. “If South Africa needs to be successful, they would need their 6-7 big players to really have a great World Cup,” he said.

Regarding the team’s mental approach, Smith emphasized the importance of keeping the focus on cricket-related conversations and avoiding external distractions. South African cricket has been surrounded by controversies and off-field issues, and Smith believes that the team should concentrate on the game itself.

Smith reflected on the team’s past performances, stating, “There has been so much happening around South African cricket that the key for the group is to have strong cricket conversations. Keeping it to cricket will be the most important thing for this group.”

In recent times, South African cricket faced challenges related to players’ involvement in social justice movements. Smith did not explicitly mention these issues but suggested that the team should prioritize cricket conversations and training.

As for the future of ODI cricket, Smith acknowledged the changing landscape of the sport and the ongoing debate about the format’s relevance. He mentioned that the cricket calendar is already packed with franchise and bilateral cricket, and finding a place for ODI cricket between World Cups could be a challenge.

Lastly, Smith commented on Quinton de Kock’s decision to retire from ODIs after the World Cup, calling it a logical choice. He noted that De Kock has played a substantial amount of ODI cricket and mentioned the importance of cricket boards in keeping players interested in representing their country.

In conclusion, as South Africa prepares for the Cricket World Cup 2023, the team faces challenges related to batting depth and the absence of key players due to injuries. The performance of top-order batters and the contributions of key players like Kagiso Rabada and Keshav Maharaj will be crucial to their campaign. Additionally, Smith stressed the importance of maintaining a strong focus on cricket-related discussions and training, while the future of ODI cricket remains a topic of interest in the evolving cricket landscape.

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