A pace attack comprising of Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje meant South Africa looked like the best bowling unit at the world cup. They also had one of the best leg spinners in the world hence they ticked all the boxes which could designate them as 'Deadliest bowling attack'. Despite some struggles with the bat, people expected South Africa to make an impact at the world cup. They were expected to be among the top four at the end of the league phase.
Where they finished?
They finished seventh after losing 5 out of their 9 games. South Africa was knocked out of the tournament even before any of the top four teams could be finalized. They were the second team to be knocked out of the world cup after Afghanistan, much before Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. A couple of late victories against Australia and Sri Lanka were maybe good enough for them to leave the tournament on a high; it was not enough for them to make it to the knockouts. The only other game they won was against Afghanistan and a game was washed out.
What went wrong?
South Africa entered the tournament with their batsmen misfiring and all their hopes were with the bowlers. Unfortunately, they had to deal with injuries and they failed to field all four of their gun fast bowlers in a single game. Dale Steyn was ruled out of the tournament midway while Rabada and Tahir misfired throughout. They failed to achieve even 50% of what was expected of them. Rabada especially showed the signs of fatigue which he acquired from the long international and IPL seasons behind him. In fact, the talks of players suffering burnout during the IPL emerged from the South African dressing room regularly as they failed to make an impact. The proteas were a bit unlucky in terms of schedule as well. Most of their games were locked in during the first phase of the tournament which made the schedule pretty jaded and they had a minimum time for recovering physically as well as mentally.
Player who disappointed the most
At 35, JP Duminy has probably played his last world cup. Being a senior player with over 12 years of experience with him, Duminy was expected to be the trump card of South Africa but he failed miserably. Duminy could only manage 70 runs at 17.50 and his strike rate of 97 was on a lower side too for a finisher. He could neither accelerate the inning nor consolidate. He bowled 9 overs at the tournament for 1 wicket at an economy rate of 6.77. We probably saw him for the last time wearing the protea colors.
A collective failure meant it is a bit tough to find a bright side out of the darkness for the proteas. The youngsters like Shamsi, Lungi and Markram failed so badly that it's not even worth talking about their contributions at the world cup. The only positives that came out of the tournament for them are their victories in last two games along with Rassie Van Der Dussen. Rassie who is already in his 30s racked up 311 runs at 62.20 and South Africa must be expecting him to do what Mike Hussey did for Australia in his 30s.
What's next for them?
If you honestly analyze the condition of South African cricket, it doesn't look promising. They have to unearth a replacement of AB De Villiers as soon as possible and it's not just one, soon they have to find out players who can replace Hashim Amla and Faf Du Plessis too. Most of their players are in the thirties and those who are young, ain't performing up to the standard. Likes of David Miller have been underperforming since a long time now and South Africa might need a replacement there too.
Apart from the headaches related to a player's form and fitness, CSA also needs to find out a solution on how to prevent their top players from leaving the country and head towards England on Kolpak deal. They have already lost the players with the calibre of Colin Ingram, Richard Levi, Hardus Viljoen, Simon Harmer, David Wiese, Kyle Abbott, Rilee Rossouw, Wayne Parnell, Duanne Olivier and even Morne Morkel. I might have missed at least 4-5 names still in the list but the once who are listed here, still had a lot of cricket in them to offer. The list indicates that there's something not right within the board and CSA needs to sort it out before it gets too late.
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