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South Africa’s Woes in the Cricket World Cup

Cricket World Cup has always been a thorn for South Africa. They have good stats to show for the World Cup but unfortunately could never win one and are usually called Choker.

Ritik Goel
Last updated: 08.06.2019
South Africa team in Cricket World Cup 2019 | Sports Social Blog

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Ever since the readmission of South African cricket into the international circuit in 1992, it has been a team to beat. It has always produced eye-catching performances and gifted some magnificent players to world cricket. If you look at the greatest batsmen of the modern era, the likes Jacques Kallis, Ab De Villers, Graeme Smith are right up there with the very best. Same is the case for their bowlers such as Shaun Pollock, Allan Donald and Dale Steyn. In fact, South Africa is called the powerhouse of seam-bowling all-rounders. Such is the quality of this sensational team.


No wonder why they have gone as one of the favourites in every edition of the Cricket World Cup since 1992. However, the horrible relationship between South Africa and the World Cups is the one to take a note of. This time though, no one was calling South Africa, “the favourites”.


The hype has been created around India, England and Australia. South Africa just fell under the radar. Definitely, their side was not as intimidating as India’s or England’s - the overwhelming favourites for this tournament. However, stats suggest a slightly different story.

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TEAMS WITH THE HIGHEST WIN-LOSS RATIO POST THE 2015 CRICKET WORLD CUP

Team

Matches Played

Matches Won

Win-Loss Ratio

England

86

56

2.43

India

86

56

2.07

South Africa

74

47

1.80

New Zealand

76

43

1.43

Afghanistan

61

33

1.37

Bangladesh

61

32

1.28

Australia

76

37

1.02

Pakistan

78

35

0.87

West Indies

66

19

0.46

Sri Lanka

84

23

0.41


Clearly, South Africa has been the third-best One-Day team in this period.


Best Batsmen since the 2015 Cricket World Cup

Batsman

Average*Strike Rate/100

Virat Kohli

76.98

Jos Buttler

64.67

Ross Taylor

59.95

Rohit Sharma

58.95

Faf Du Plesis

55.74

Joe Root

55.16

Quinton De Kock

52.77


In the list of best 7 batsmen post 2015 World Cup, two South Africans make a mark. In fact, South Africa have scored the second joint-most number of 300 plus totals since the last World Cup. Moreover, their “runs per over” is 5.71, only third in the list post-2015 World Cup.


Despite pretty decent stats, they are not going in the tournament as favourites. Now, it is also imperative to look at their records in World Cups. Their win percentage in World Cups is 65%, which is second best to Australia and just above India. Now, this is a pretty astonishing stat as they have not managed to win a single World Cup. The reason behind is that they lose when it matters the most. They have won just one knockout match in all World Cups. They find a way to lose. This is in stark comparison with the Aussies as they know how to win and raise their game when it matters. No wonder why Australia has won 5 World Cups.



South Africa’s chances were bleak but their bowling attack was as good as any in the tournament. The pace trio of Steyn, Rabada and Ngidi, backed by the spin of Tahir would have been the key for them. Steyn exit from the tournament came as a massive shock and Ngidi’s love affair with injuries is not helping their cause either. Tahir has looked a shadow of what he was in the IPL 2019. Rabada seems to be fighting the battle alone.


South Africa’s worry has been Hashim Amla. Virat Kohli’s One-Day record seems to be unreal but we don’t talk about Amla much. However, Amla has been the most consistent ODI batsman with Kohli in the history of the game. But he is in the twilight of his career as he averaged 25 in 2018. Obviously, you could have not left a batsman of Amla’s stature out for such a big tournament.


What did not help South Africa’s case was the retirement of De Villiers a year before. He was the one who won them lost battles. His retirement has left a big hole in this batting line-up which still has not been filled. Aiden Markram looks very organised and offers a lot of promise. But to succeed at the highest level, promises need to be converted into performances which is not happening for Markram. The case of David Miller is quite curious. You hear the name of Miller, you feel you have got a match-winning finisher. However, South Africa has been living on past laurels as he has hardly won them a game in the last two seasons. Duminy seems to be a utility cricketer with his handy off-spin but he has also literally dragged himself into his last World Cup on the back of some inconsistent performances.


Clearly, this team has been carried by 3 or 4 people and when they don’t perform, the team looks in shambles. Moreover, this is an ageing side which is evident in their fielding. The South African teams of the past were gun fielding units.


Who would have thought that South Africa would have to field two spinners against a side like India? But that has been their story in this tournament, luck has deserted them, injuries have plagued them and they have choked under pressure like typical South Africa.


The timing of AB De Villers news coming out makes matters worse for them. When you have lost 3 in a row, you would think that what if he was there? The decision to leave him out just before the team selection would not have been easy but it was a logical one. You can’t come out of retirement just to play in the World Cup and occupy the space of a youngster who has worked hard for a year to fill up the void left by you. This controversy may lead to further tensions in the dressing room.


It’s not over yet for the South Africans. They seem to be down and out but it will be silly to write them off at this stage. They still have some experience and talent in their ranks. It will require an Imran Khan-led Pakistan effort of 1992 to lift them up from this stage. It is certainly possible but not easy by any stretch of the imagination!


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