World Cups have been disheartening for South Africa. Will this season be something new?
Who would believe the team ranked third in latest ICC Rankings has never won any World Cup. Even though South Africa has been a great side since the 1992 World Cup, they have had dismal outings in the World Cups held in the past.
The way South Africa lost to New Zealand in 2015 World Cup was heart-breaking. The run out mix-up between Allan Donald and Lance Klustener in the 1999 World Cup semi-final is still fresh in our minds.
Dependency on Faf du Plessis
Faf brings echoes of each of South Africa’s previous World Cup captains — Kepler Wessels’ grit, Hansie Cronjé’s flair, though happily not his corruption, Shaun Pollock’s sense of duty, Graeme Smith’s gut feel, and, admittedly as rarely as anyone else, AB de Villiers’ dazzle — to his damnably difficult job. Australians cannot stand him, which is always a good sign.
Infamously, South Africa have not played as well as they could and should have at World Cups past. If anyone is able to change that narrative, it is Du Plessis. He can do that because:
His life is not in cricket,
cricket is in his life.
The experienced will have to perform
It will be tempting to plump for the ebbing Hashim Amla or Dale Steyn, and not only because they deserve more than past World Cups have given them. A good tournament by either would restore South Africa’s faith in themselves and by both could make them unstoppable.
Big Guns for the team
Kagiso Rabada has the personality and the presence to step, flaming eyes, flared nostrils and all, into that role.
Also made for greatness is Quinton de Kock, the game’s Huckleberry Gump, as skilled a smiter of a cricket ball as there is. When he is not on a cricket ground is a penguin not in water.
Probability for the Cup
If they lose to the better team, fine. If they help beat themselves, as they have done in the past, their compatriots may never take them seriously again.
They will be happy to reach the semi-finals
and beside themselves, if they make the final.
Then what? Who knows. South Africans have no clue what that feels like.