Proteas spinner Bjorn Fortuin says they must hit the ground running at the T20 World Cup
As the Proteas edge closer to the ICC Men's T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman later in the month, left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin has accepted that he is beginning to feel the pressure.
The Proteas, who arrived in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, will remain in quarantine until Monday and then will begin the final stage of preparations ahead of the tournament due to be held between October 23 and November 14.
Before they take on Australia in the opening match of the tournament in Abu Dhabi on October 23, the Proteas will play two practice matches against Afghanistan and Pakistan, on October 18 and 20 respectively.
“There is definitely pressure. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t pressure, but that is always going to be the case,” said Fortuin, who added that they will have to handle big moments well at the tournament.
“Whether we won the World Cup before or not, there was always going to be expectations on our shoulders because people back home expect things from us all the time.
“We must make sure that we embrace that pressure and use it as a source of energy, and as the driving force, or we could crumble under it. That is a very realistic possibility.
“We just have to make sure that we handle the big moments very well as a team. We must face high pressure situations as a unit, because it is not just about the individual who can stand up, but it is about the team.”
Fortuin added that when they come out of quarantine next week, South Africa will focus on their preparations and try to adapt to the searing heat of the Arabian Peninsula.
“I have asked myself the question of how we are going to play cricket in this heat because this is something I have never experienced before. It is just gone past 11am and it feels like it has been baking outside for hours.
“The heat is going to be a massive challenge for us, but everything we need is available for us to succeed. It is just about getting our minds right, but the weather is going to be part of those challenges.
“Physical and mental preparedness go hand-in-hand because without mental strength, the physical is useless and it is the same thing vice versa. It is a long time before we play our first game, so the big thing is to make sure that we peak at the right time.
“We have a couple of warm-up games lined up, but as soon as that first ball is bowled against Australia, we have to make sure that we are in the right space to hit the ground running.”
Fortuin said they must be ready to play against all the big teams.
“There is extra motivation whenever you play against these big teams. As I look at this World Cup, there are about six to seven teams that could win the tournament on paper and we have to be ready for each of them.
“There is history between SA and Australia and what happened at the 1999 World Cup and those sorts of things. We can’t control that because it is in the past.
“We can only control our journey to make sure that when that first ball is bowled, we hit the ground running. The same goes for the other team.”