Jonty Rhodes

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Miss a game at your peril

Just about every game is a knockout from here onwards which is a fantastic endorsement of the format of the tournament because there's no cruising for the players and no blinking for the supporters. Miss a game at your peril - you might not see your favourite team again.

 

I've thoroughly enjoyed the tournament so far although I have the feeling that we've only seen the support act so far and the real thing is about to burst onto stage. It only takes a couple of brilliant individual performances or a really close game, a classic contest and suddenly everyone is talking cricket. 

 

It looks very obvious to me that the tournament is being played in a great spirit and there are plenty of smiles on the players' faces. I wonder whether that might become a feature of the ICC Champions Trophy. With $2 million at stake for the winners I'm not suggesting for a moment that the players won't be taking it seriously but it's not the ICC World Cup and, perhaps, this tournament can provide an opportunity for players to remember the spirit of cricket.

 

Andrew Strauss set a great example in that regard when he called the batsman back when he was run out after colliding with the bowler. That sort of gesture sets an example that thousands of kids might, one day, decided to copy. Just as kids can swear and spit and do other nasty things if they see their heroes doing them, so they can mimic the good stuff.

 

 

England were very good indeed against Sri Lanka and if they pitch up in the same frame of mind against South Africa on Sunday then they could well ruin the hosts' party. Supersport Park in Centurion is very different to the Wanderers, however, and a dry surface has favoured the spinners more than the seamers. Up until now the ball hasn't really swung at Centurion - if anyone can make it happen I guess James Anderson would be a contender.

 

Herschelle Gibbs is available for the Proteas once again although it was interesting to hear Graeme Smith speculating about the possibility of Hashim Amla retaining his place at the top of the order. Hashim is playing well and is probably a more ‘reliable' option than Herschelle but it would take a brave man to leave Hersch out. He's unique – capable of playing more audacious innings than just about anyone else. And he's still got the X factor in the field, even at the ago of 35.

 

It is still possible that at least one semi-final place could be decided on net run-rate. In my opinion the players shouldn't even consider that until well into the game. Get yourself into a winning position and take it from there. If you take anything for granted, if you assume victory, you will lose. Then run-rates are irrelevant anyway!

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