With the kickoff of the Cricket World Cup just 10 days away, Udo Carelse chatted to the Minister of Sport and Haroon Lorgat of Cricket SA ahead of a fans farewell for the Castle Lager Proteas squad. They leave tonight for the ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
We are going to send you knowing that when you go, you represent a nation and the pride of a nation. When you come back as Champions we will roll out the red carpet for you.— Fikile Mbalula, Minister of Sport & Recreation
Joburg's Melrose Arch will host the official send off later today at the Piazza with the official programme starting at midday. Entrance is free for all fans wishing to convey their precious greetings and well wishes to the players before the World Cup starts.
When we lose it affects our health... our spirit of the nation. Make them (the Proteas) remember that when they get on that aircraft, they are representing this great nation!— Fikile Mbalula, Minister of Sport & Recreation
Cricket SA Haroon Lorgat shared the Minister's sentiments saying that it is the pressure of each matchday that will need to be managed.
Speaking to Udo Carelse on SportsTalk, Lorgat defended the decision to keep the Proteas on home soil for as long as possible, when many of their World Cup opponents were playing matches in other countries. He explained the conditions in South Africa are similar to Australia/ New Zealand at this time of the year so it had always been their plan to keep the Proteas at home and reduce the time touring to as little as possible.
He acknowledged that in-form Australia would be one of the favourites to lift the World Cup trophy but was quick to warn that homesoil advantage also brings with it challenges.
Lorgat had this to say in response to sports psychologist Dr Henning Gericke's assessment that the unity within the squad was optimal...
We're blessed with a fantastic group of players. We've worked hard to build something where everybody looks in the same direction, so to speak. They've come to the party each and every one of those players. You know the identity we've built with ProteaFire - and they've been central to it - in fact, it's very much their doing!— Cricket SA CEO, Haroon Lorgat
Fans are encouraged to wear their proudly South African colours on the day and Inspire #ProteaFire.
The Protea’s warm-up match is against Sri Lanka takes place on February 9th (at midnight SA time) with their second warm-up is against New Zealand on February 11th, at the same time.