posted on 2019-07-08 07:26:10
posted by Sahil Jain
Image Courtesy: ICC
Maybe for the first time, South Africa didn’t enter a multi-nation tournament as favourites. They had a good team which did have their flaws but they had won decently in the last few series. However, things went haywire right from the first game when they suffered a 104-run loss at the Oval. It took them four games to register their first win in this World Cup and could only a couple more to that win tally. Thus, it was perhaps South Africa’s worst World Cup.
What went wrong
Batting. The batting was at the forefront of most of South Africa’s struggles. South Africa were the worst team batting in the powerplay. They were often slow and cautious and also, lost early wickets more often than not. Despite scoring a couple of fifties, Hashim Amla struggled, Aiden Markram promised but didn’t deliver, Quinton de Kock wasn’t fluent enough and the middle order was under quite a bit of pressure. Experienced campaigners like JP Duminy and David Miller never really came to the party as well.
Hence, barring Faf du Plessis and Rassie van der Dussen, South Africa’s batting failed big time. Moreover, all the South African batsmen were stuck in two minds and barring Duminy no batsman had a strike-rate in excess of 90. Even Duminy didn’t score big as he could muster only 70 runs in four innings.
Also, Kagiso Rabada didn’t have the best of tournaments either. He had six wickets in as many innings before he picked up five in the last two matches. Hence, he was off-colour and the injuries to Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi didn’t help their cause either. Thus, their bowling attack lacked teeth and it costed them dearly.
South Africa’s World Cup was a pretty disappointing one and there were not a lot of positives in this campaign. However, if there were any, it has to be the way Rassie van der Dussen batted and Chris Morris’ performance with the ball. The latter was South Africa’s highest wicket-taker but he bowled pretty well. He bowled with great pace and was the best South African pacer in this World Cup. Meanwhile, van der Dussen has to be South Africa’s best batsman. He never got a chance to bat against low-key teams or relatively weaker bowling attacks. He faced all tough oppositions and always got a score. In fact, his lowest score in this tournament was 22. Thus, these two have to be their biggest positives.
Despite getting a substantial score in every game he batted, van der Dussen was not the leading run-getter. Faf du Plessis had a better tournament and was consistent enough to carry the batting on his shoulders. The South African skipper scored 387 runs which included three fifties and a hundred. Van der Dussen got 311 runs in six innings.
Until the final group-stage game against Australia, no South African batsman had scored a hundred in this tournament. However, skipper du Plessis broke that jinx.
Meanwhile, Chris Morris was the leading wicket-taker for the Proteas. He took 13 wickets at an average of 26.23. There were three other bowlers who picked up 11 wickets each – Rabada, Imran Tahir and Andile Phehlukwayo.
What could change?
The ever-energetic Imran Tahir bids adieu to 50-over cricket. He had announced it a few months back and he finished his ODI career with a win. And so did JP Duminy. The left-handed batsman also hung up his boots in ODI cricket.
This could also well be Faf du Plessis’ last World Cup if not his last ODI game. Hashim Amla’s future remains uncertain as well. Hence, we could see a change in captaincy too. Also, South Africa may need to look beyond Dale Steyn and settle down on a fast bowling core across all formats.
Another important thing is that Kagiso Rabada needs a break. The South African spearhead has been bowling quite a lot since the start of this year. He barely missed a game or two. Thus, he certainly needs a break and his workload management along with that of the other fast bowlers is going to be key.