But their captain, Hansie Cronje, remained cautious about the 11-4 odds, which placed them just above Australia at 3-1. "Our team is not going to play any better or worse because people think we're better than some other sides," he said. "We've got to go out there and play some good cricket."
He warned against writing off any of the other contenders. "It's going to be interesting because there are five or six teams which could be there right at the end."
Cronje said he was keeping a close eye on the hosts. "England at home will always be a side to be reckoned with. They haven't had a great record over the past 12 months but certainly at home they can play."
South Africa's coach, Bob Woolmer, who is leaving the job at the end of the tournament, would not be drawn on rumours he may take charge of England when David Lloyd stands down later this year. "I will make a decision on my future at the end of the World Cup," he said. "I owe it to South Africa and the team I've been with for five years to concentrate totally on the World Cup."
New Zealand, who arrived on the same flight, were quite content to be languishing at 14-1 in the odds. "I think it's great not to be one of the hot favourites," their captain, Stephen Fleming, said. "The beauty of this tournament as we see it is that teams around the world are consistently beating each other and there's no one who's really dominated the world scene over the last 12 months."
Asked if New Zealand had enough in their armoury to upset a few teams, he said: "We think we can do a little more than that. But obviously it's going to be very tough."