'My goal is to play the 2003 World Cup'

Published : Nov 17, 2001 00:00 IST


ALLAN DONALD, who says he is old at 35 and his body is weak, wants to play in the World Cup at home. A stomach related problem has delayed his return to international cricket. He missed the first part of the Summer Spice one-day series and afterwards was ruled out of the Test series as well. Now Donald is keen to make the Australia tour.

The Sportstar spoke to the pace ace. Excerpts:

Question: It's difficult to be away from the centrestage. Especially when a series is on in your home country.

Answer: Injuries are beyond the control of the players. I am no exception. I have got to be very patient and hope to return for the tour of Australia. I think the county cricket has taken a lot out of me. But I have no regrets. That's part and parcel of the game. I started playing international cricket quite late. I had to make a living some where and county cricket was it.

The present problem seems to be related to abdomen muscles.

I have not had serious injuries; it's all been niggles. The concern is when you get older you get more niggles and at 35 I have got to train harder than the others and unfortunately that's the way of life. I am feeling pretty good at the moment and hopefully I should be alright by the end of the month.

I tore it (abdomen muscle) in New Zealand three years ago. The problem has come back to me after three years. It's got something to do with being old and not strong enough and therefore I am picking up injuries. As of now we are working pretty hard and the deadline (to be declared fit) I think is end of the month. Let's see what the selectors will say.

Well, looking back at your career you have taken more than 300 wickets. Did you ever think in the beginning of your career that you will be able to achieve this target?

If I had started at 18, I might have by now taken 400 plus wickets. But I am very happy with what I have achieved in nine years or ten years of international cricket. To have played 63 Test matches and to have picked up 325 wickets, to me it is almost like getting to 400 wickets. I feel like that.

I am very happy with what I have done. The game has done great things to me. I still have this goal in my mind to play the 2003 World Cup. That's what I am looking forward to, playing in the home World Cup. There are six more Tests against the Aussies, and let's see from where I go from there, but my main aim now is really to play one-day cricket.

You were called the 'White Lightning'. Are you comfortable with the nick-name?

It was just a tag that never really bothered me. It's just that people started calling me. It's not that I thought I should live up to it. I just went out there and played my game and did to the best of my ability and potential. That tag never really bothered me at all.

Many feel that there won't be another Allan Donald in world cricket. Bob Woolmer also shares the same opinion.

Well, time would eventually come for some one else to be acclaimed as good as me. I think the guys out there now, everybody can see them and say they have the potential. A guy like Mornantau Hayward is there. He does not need guidance anymore.

He has matured nicely over the last few years. Shaun Pollock, Lance Klusener and Jacques Kallis... you don't have to even talk about them. Makhaya Ntini... he has moulded himself into the team nicely now. But it would be good for me to bowl with a guy like Shaun (Pollock) again and 'Nantie' Hayward following me or bowling with me.

What about Mfuneko Ngam? He made a big impact last year, but he is out of action with stress fractures and other injuries?

It would be hell of a loss if he cannot come back from this because there is a lot of medical problems with him. His bone density is not strong enough. Yes, Ngam is a great worry for all of us, especially for South African cricket. He is an exciting young fast bowler. It would have been fantastic to take him and Hayward to Australia. These are two guys with real pace. It's not happening for him, but I hope he will be back. Some how I cannot see him coming back from this. He is young and medical opinion says that it is difficult for him to come back. But who am I to say all this? People have come back from stranger things.

The South African cricket team is said to be second only to Australia. On occasions the South Africans have been up there, but have not managed to outwit the Australians. How would you describe a contest between South Africa and Australia?

There is not a lot between us, in fact there is absolutely nothing between us. They have still got some world class players. The only reason why people put Australia ahead of us is, the Australians take their chances better than us. If you miss one chance, well the Australians make you pay for it heavily. And if we have them on the rope, we have got to nail them right there, then and then. That's that.

We have seen Steve Waugh dropped on seven in a Test match and then going on to make a hundred. That's what I am talking about. I think, mentally, there is absolutely nothing between the two teams. We are tough and we have been in recent times playing the same players at the same place and we are as disciplined as they are, But they take their chances better than the other teams. That's why they are so good.

Would you say that South Africa is a better fielding team than Australia? Colin Croft said that the South Africans outplayed the West Indies (in South Africa) whereas the Australians could not do so (in the West Indies before the World Cup 99) because the West Indian batsmen were given chances.

We are similar. Ricky Ponting makes a big difference in Test matches. We have Jonty Rhodes and Herschelle Gibbs and Boeta Dieppenaar who can contribute in the field. One-day cricket is obviously different. I mean everybody loves to see Jonty Rhodes dive around. He is still the best in that position. I think we are on a par with the Australians. Definitely.

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