Ashwell Prince: Proteas’ big players need right mentality to deliver on T20 World Cup stage

Former Proteas batsman Ashwell Prince wants to see the Proteas’ big players stand up during the later stage of the tournament. Picture: Greg Wood / AFP

Former Proteas batsman Ashwell Prince wants to see the Proteas’ big players stand up during the later stage of the tournament. Picture: Greg Wood / AFP

Published May 6, 2024


Former star Proteas batsman Ashwell Prince says “mentality” and “adaptability” should be the talented Proteas batters’ buzzwords ahead of the T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the United States.

The Proteas go into the tournament with one of the most powerful and exciting batting line-ups in years, with clean strikers of the cricket ball throughout the team.

The majority of those batters are currently putting in top performances in the Indian Premier League, with players such as Heinrich Klaasen, Aiden Markram and Tristan Stubbs shining for their franchises.

It’s also the core of the side who shone with the bat at last year’s 50-over World Cup in India, with the Proteas regularly going over the 300-run mark.

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“We have a quality of batting line-up That line-up can hurt any bowling line-up on any given day,” Prince told IOL Sport.

“Over the years we have improved against spin, particularly the middle order, being able to hit boundaries against the slow bowlers after the Power Play.

“Guys like [David] Miller, Stubbs and Klaasen can be destructive and transfer pressure. Even Reeza [Hendricks] at the top of the order is a very good player of spin.

“The guys have also been performing well in the Indian Premier League and are playing with a positive mindset. They will bring that mindset into the group for the World Cup and share with other batsmen who are not at the IPL.”

However, the Proteas have three matches in New York, where a stadium was basically built from scratch to host the tournament.

The Nassau County International Cricket Stadium will host the Proteas in matches against Sri Lanka (June 3), the Netherlands (June 8), who essentially knocked South Africa out of the previous T20 World Cup in Australia, and Bangladesh (June 10).

The Proteas finish their group stage assignments against Nepal on June 15 in Kingston, Jamaica.

At this point, ahead of the tournament, nobody knows what sort of conditions to expect in the US, and it’s why Prince thinks that adaptability may be a key part of their game management.

“In the West Indies and the United States, you will have to assess the conditions because the conditions won’t be the same as what they are currently experiencing in the IPL,” the former stylish left-hander said.

“Between now and when the World Cup starts, you won’t have enough time to get a good understanding of what the conditions will be like in New York.

“The adaptability I’m taking about is in-game. A night before the match starts, you might be sitting in a batting or bowling meeting to make plans, but then the surface may not not align with those plans.

“So you must be able to adapt in-game and then game management becomes key.”

Moreover, Prince wants to see the Proteas’ big players finally stand up during the later stage of the tournament.

The Proteas’ failures to get over the line in World Cup knockout matches are well-documented, the team last year again bundled out at the semi-final stage against Australia.

Prince wants the South Africans to take a leaf out of Australia’s book. The team looked dead and buried halfway through the 50-over showpiece in India, only for them to fight back and walk away with the trophy.

“Mentality is very important on the big stage, whether it’s ODI or T20 cricket, and we still haven’t delivered that big match-winning performance at the knockout stage,” said Prince.

“If you look at the other teams around the world, their big big players stand up and almost say ‘we’ll show you why we are the big players and why we earn the big bucks’.

“When it comes to the business end of the competitions, the guys who have the big local contracts and big IPL contracts must show their quality when the pressure is on. Believe me, the youngsters will then follow with top performances.”