- Sanjay Sanapoori | November 8, 2022 | 12:52 am
South Africa’s future thoughts are going to be rather tough. They’ve had some bad World Cup exits, losing to rain, Brian Lara, and themselves. This World Cup though is likely to top the list. Coming into the World Cup, South Africa were not favorites like they generally are, but were seen as a dangerous side. With their bowling attack, and list of talented batters, they were expected to be competitive. In the last World Cup as well, South Africa lost only one game, but failed to make the next round. This time round, they were given a bigger chance from fans and media, and lived up to expectations for most parts of the tournament.
A win against India put them on top of the table, and South Africa looked set to make the next round. Facing Netherlands, a victory was a mere formality, given the gulf in skill between both sides. What transpired though is still tough to take in. Sunday turned out to be one of the darkest days in South African Cricket as they lost to Netherlands, resulting in South Africa getting knocked out of the tournament. The Semi-Finals spot was theirs for the taking and they blew it in typical South African style.
Disappointments are common in World Cups. West Indies failed to make the Super 12s, while there has been a handful of upsets in this edition. New Zealand are another side known for disappointments, losing their last three World Cup Finals. South Africa though are at the top in history of dissapointments at a World Cup. Each defeat of theirs tends to send a negative spiral towards the next with 2015 likely to be at the top, until the recent Netherlands defeat.
Starting in 1992, each defeat stung hard, with the pain of choking peaking in 2015. A fair few members of the side is still in the squad now after the defeat in 2015, and will know the pain of that night well. The selection issues, Dale Steyn’s pain of bowling length in the penultimate ball and De Villiers in tears remains fresh. The loss led to a changed South African team heading towards a downfall. AB De Villiers was a shadow of himself, Faf Du Plessis took over a struggling side, and Dale Steyn’s struggle with injuries began. In the end, South Africa reached lows as they lost a home test series to Sri Lanka, and were knocked out in the group stage of the 2019 World Cup.
Transformation targets became an issue, dominating South African cricket. During the period between 2019 and 2021, captaincy became another issue. Faf Du Plessis was replaced by Quinton De Kock, who later stepped down citing mental health. As a result, Temba Bavuma was announced white-ball skipper. Despite average numbers, his appointment seemed ok as there were not too many choices.
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After taking captaincy though, Bavuma continued to play with average numbers. His scoring rate was an issue, which was highlighted when he missed games due to an elbow injury. In his absence, Reeza Hendricks came in and was very positive at the top. His performances prompted critics to wonder if he would do better than Bavuma in the eleven. As captain though, Bavuma remained in the side despite poor performances, leaving Hendricks out, handing South Africa another selection debacle.
Selection debacles due to transformation is what formed the headache in 2015, and is a key part of the headache in 2022 as well. With transformation continuing to be an issue in South African Cricket, teams around the world are improving and innovating. The board though continues to be concerned about of other matters. The likes of Faf Du Plessis, is another interesting case. Faf has been in pretty good form in domestic leagues but has been left out of the T20 sides despite being available for the national team.
In the present World Cup, South Africa looked good, but still struggled. With the ball, barring Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi, the bowlers lacked variety. Rabada was good, but the lack of variations proved their lack of innovation. With the bat as well, South Africa were good, but lacked the experience to take the game to their next level. Coming into their final game though, a semi-final spot looked set for them. South Africa though bought out a word that has been forgetten but is rather famous in their history.
The famous C-word returns. In their chase, South Africa were rather comfortable, until a flurry of wickets in the middle-changed things. David Miller did try taking the game deep but a spectacular catch from Roloef Van Der Merwe took the game away from South Africa, as they spiraled to what is now probably their worst choke.
The recent loss will definitely be a tough one to come out of. They had the game in their hands, and after some good performances were favorites for the trophy. Now, South Africa are battling a heartbreak. They start afresh, with a new coach now. Their captain’s future remains uncertain. How South Africa crawl back up from here will be a sight to see as they get past their recent choke.