new team puts on brave front

AFTER AN emotional week in which coach Mickey Arthur stepped down after five years with the national cricket team, the Proteas left on Saturday for a tour of India.

"We're looking forward to getting down to cricket again and focusing on cricket issues," said captain Graeme Smith. "It's been an emotional week for everyone, but the players have dealt with hard times before, and I expect them to be as professional as they normally are.

"It's an important tour, and I think the emotions will drift away when we get to India and start preparing for what is a very important tour."

Corrie van Zyl, who was appointed coach for this tour, said he believed difficult times such as the team had just experienced, often contributed to building a team rather than breaking it down.

"I was part of the management team when the Hansie (Cronje) issue came about. It really does sometimes just pull the team together. I don't see a problem - if there are guys who have emotions to deal with, then they must deal with them.

"We are going over to India for a very important series and the focus must be on preparation."

Van Zyl acknowledged he was a strong believer in discipline, but said he expected discipline to be driven by the team itself.

"Discipline is an integral part of any team's success," he said. "What's important is creating a culture of discipline rather than being a disciplinarian.

"I'm not saying there isn't a culture of discipline in the team already, but if we want a culture of discipline, it must be driven by the team. If somebody's out of line, I expect the team to take action."

Smith rejected suggestions that senior players formed part of a clique and exercised too much power.

"You've got guys who've been around for 10 years. It's easy to point fingers at those guys with familiar faces. I look to my senior players for responsibility, I look to them for guidance in terms of the young players, and they play an integral part in keeping the team strong." - Sapa