South Africa have been one of the best ODI sides in the world for the last two decades but they have always choked at the Cricket World Cup. In fact, South Africa has never won an ICC World Cup despite having some of the most talented players.
Their current squad is probably the weakest South Africa have ever sent to a World Cup. Hence, the South African public and bookmakers alike haven’t placed a lot of expectations on this squad. This might work in favour of the Proteas, though, and present an interesting proposition for cricket bettors. After all, the lack of pressure might enable them to play without fear.
South Africa Whitewash Sri Lanka
South Africa just completed a 5-0 ODI whitewash against Sri Lanka at home and this will give them a certain amount of confidence. At least they’ll board the plane to England on a high.
Although the Proteas know that the current Sri Lankan ODI team certainly isn’t the best in the world, they will take a few positives from the tour such as the form of Quinton de Kock, Faf Du Plessis and Imran Tahir.
That being said, the form of senior players like Hashim Amla, David Miller, Dale Steyn and JP Duminy will also be key. They need everyone performing on top form if they’re going to threaten the best teams in England.
Will AB de Villiers Absence Hurt Them?
Most people expected AB de Villiers to take part in the 2019 World Cup and then retire. However, ABD caught everyone off-guard and retired early. This has really hurt South Africa’s prospects. They’ve tried to move on but haven’t yet found an adequate replacement for him.
It must be painful for South Africa supporters to see AB de Villiers playing well in the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore. They must be hoping that ABD will have a change of heart, return to the Proteas, and play out the World Cup before retiring permanently.
Unfortunately, there’s a very slim chance of that happening. Instead the South Africans will need someone else to put their hand up and become the next big star.
The Last Hurrah For Senior Players
A number of senior South African players have prolonged their ODI careers just to win the World Cup in the past. Gary Kirsten, Jacques Kallis, Shaun Pollock, Graeme Smith, Allan Donald, and Mark Boucher were always desperate to win the ICC World Cup but failed to do so.
This time around captain Du Plessis, Steyn, Amla, Duminy and Tahir are in a similar boat. This could be their last crack at winning the trophy. In fact, Tahir has already announced his plans to quite ODI cricket at the end of the World Cup.
Motivation therefore clearly won’t be a problem. What’s more, South Africa have a nice infusion of younger players to complement the old guard.
Good But Not Great?
This South African squad boasts several good batsmen and bowlers but how many would you consider great? Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi are extremely talented but their relative lack of experience in high pressured ODI World Cup games could be a problem. South Africa will have to balance their attack for English conditions carefully.
The batting, however, will be the biggest concern. Quinton de Kock is a class act at the top of the order but if he doesn’t fire then it will put a lot of pressure on the middle order. And this, of course, can lead to collapses.
Conclusion: This South African team will need to start the tournament well. Early victories will build confidence but they can’t afford to peak too early either given their tendency to choke in the knock-out stages. It could be a roller-coaster ride yet again.