Mumbai: Aiden Markram says South Africa’s cricketers are taking “inspiration” from the Springboks’ run to the Rugby World Cup final as they continue their own quest for global glory in India.
Just hours after South Africa thrashed England by a mammoth 229 runs in a Cricket World Cup pool match in Mumbai on Saturday, their reigning rugby union world champion compatriots edged England 16-15 in a tense semi-final in Paris.
The Springboks will now face arch-rivals and fellow three-time world champions New Zealand in the final this Saturday.
“We’re following the rugby as much as everyone else, to be honest,” said top-order batsman Markram on Monday during a pre-match press conference ahead of the Proteas’ pool game against Bangladesh in Mumbai.
“I suppose a lot of the hype is around them right now and rightly so. They’re doing some special things once again as a team.
“It inspires us. We try to take motivation and inspiration from them. And certainly, their performance to get into another final provided us with an extra bit of oomph as well going into tomorrow (Tuesday).”
Colossal margin of victory
As well as the colossal margin of victory, South Africa’s match against England was also notable for the oppressive conditions, with Proteas century-maker Heinrich Klaasen saying temperatures of up to 36 degrees made it feel as if he was “batting in a sauna”.
“I do certainly think our previous game here was a bit of a rude awakening,” said Markram, a stand-in captain against England after regular skipper Temba Bavuma was ruled out through illness.
“We always knew it was going to be hot and humid coming to India in general, and especially Mumbai and places like Chennai. But it was quite brutal the other night.”
Klaasen, repeatedly troubled by cramp, looked out on his feet at several stages during his innings and did not field.
But Markram said he expected the big-hitting middle-order batsman to be fit to face Bangladesh despite a 109 that “took quite a lot out of him”.
“You will do well to keep him off the cricket field. He’s quite a tough guy and he’ll be itching to go again tomorrow, I’m sure.”
“He’s a competitor and he’s really passionate about trying to do well for his country. I think you combine all of those factors together and come the end of the game I think you’re quite fatigued.”
As for Bavuma, the 29-year-old Markram said he was “definitely improving” but no “final call” had been made on the skipper’s availability to face Bangladesh.
The Tigers have proved tricky opponents in recent encounters for South Africa, who like their rugby counterparts are trying to reach a World Cup final with just one pool phase loss — in their case a shock defeat by non-Test nation the Netherlands.
And even though Bangladesh have lost three of their four games at the World Cup, wary batsman Markram said: “If your skills let you down on the day against a team like Bangladesh, you will be put under a lot of pressure.
“So that’s probably where we’ve got it wrong in the past
“They bring a great attack that is well rounded now. You can’t just say they’re going to bring fantastic spinners because their seamers have done a great job in the recent past.”