South Africa relaxed and ready
St Lucia - After all the grumbles about airlines so far in the World Cup, I am pleased to report my luggage turned up on schedule after the flight from Barbados. The trouble was, I wasn’t with it.
The charter plane that was supposed to be taking us, and the South Africa team, was inexplicably delayed for almost two hours but when we finally boarded we were told what had happened.
The same plane had been used to ferry Australia (and my bags) to St Lucia, leaving South Africa’s players – all kitted out in team polo shirts and khaki shorts – kicking their heels in the departure lounge.
It has been a difficult tournament for Graeme Smith’s side, who came under heavy fire following their loss to Australia in St Kitts, suffered a massive upset at the hands of Bangladesh in Guyana, then had to deal with an exposé of their post-match drinking in Grenada.
Victory over England, though, followed by a week of taking it easy at the Barbados Hilton and surrounds, seems to have lifted their collective mood massively.
They made a conscious effort to quell the comparisons to the heart-breaking World Cup semi-final of 1999 by offering the four remaining players – Shaun Pollock, Mark Boucher, Herschelle Gibbs and Jacques Kallis – to the media on Saturday.
It didn’t help the media that the news conference took place at around the same time Brian Lara came out to bat for the last time in international cricket but the players seem now to have put the comparisons behind them.
They are now safely ensconced in the same hotel from which Andrew Flintoff launched his pedalo all of six weeks ago.
And, should they win on Wednesday, they may be tempted to try the new cocktail doing the rounds, called The Flintoff and featuring rum and pineapple juice.
While the rest of the World Cup sides take to the skies, England have remained grounded as flights back to the UK are apparently full until Tuesday.
Before heading to the golf course, though, they bade farewell to their WAGs – Jessica Taylor, ex of Liberty X and current of Kevin Pietersen, was among a group at the airport.
And they gave a cheery wave to Stuart Broad, whose reward for hitting the winning runs at a sweltering Kensington Oval on Saturday is a place in the Leicestershire side to face Somerset at Grace Road on Wednesday.