Johannesburg, Feb.24 (ANI): Former South African middle order bat Daryll Cullinan is on top of the world these days, as for the first time in years, a South African team is entering a Test series against Australia without fear.
"Ultimately it comes down to the belief they have that they can compete," The Age quoted him as telling the cricket web site Cricinfo.
Cullinan's bumbling attempts to combat Shane Warne epitomised the Proteas' past struggles, but those days are over and he believes the catalysts have been an injection of self-belief and a refining of Graeme Smith's previously combative captaincy.
"I think you have got to give some credit to the leaders - the captain Graeme Smith and coach Mickey Arthur," Cullinan says.
"There have been problems in the past with other coaches and Smith. There is stability, the leadership is strong and the young players have come through and started expressing themselves. Arthur's style has been very much one of a facilitator. They have redefined what the team is about and what they stand for," he added.
The Proteas will become the No. 1 team in the world if they win the three-Test series against Ricky Ponting's side.
The opening stoush starts at the Wanderers Ground in Johannesburg when Smith continues his reign in an increasingly more relaxed and respectful manner.
"We have seen of late a very humble and quiet form of leadership emerge from Smith. Smith now seems to be very comfortable in his role and with his personnel. There doesn't seem to be any influence of any previous captain and he has good support in the form of the senior players. The junior players admire him for his leadership. It's a settled team. It's a good time and good period," said Cullinan.
"The big thing with this generation is that we have moved beyond the struggles of the 1990s. They've moved beyond the Hansie Cronje era," he added.
Jean-Paul Duminy is doing what Cullinan never could against Australia, building a mountain of runs while appearing to barely raise a sweat.
"I like his style of batting, standing still and picking the bat up, he looks to get forward and doesn't allow the bowlers to push him back," Cullinan said.
"He's done very well and has got a lovely touch and class about him. He is very soft-spoken. He has handled all the success very well. Just looking at his stats - he has only played three Tests and a handful of ODIs so how he gets through the lean periods, which the best go through at some stage, will be crucial. But I'm sure he will manage; he's an exciting player. We're thrilled here that he has come through and done well."
Cullinan had an artistry about his batting at its best, averaging 44 from 70 Tests, but he became a bumbling fool against Australia, averaging just 12. (ANI)