Kass Naidoo

Why SA will beat the Aussies

2007-04-25 10:59

So, it's South Africa v Sri Lanka in the Cricket World Cup Final! I knew I'd get you to smile! Lighten up, no need to be so uptight, it's just a game.

Seriously though, against all informed opinion, I'm backing South Africa to beat the Australians, to advance to Saturday's final against Sri Lanka in Barbados!

If the experts are to be believed, and if statistics count for anything, Australia should brush aside the Proteas in St Lucia.

After all, critics will tell you that Nathan Bracken is lethal with the new ball, Shaun Tait is almost unplayable when the ball is reverse swinging, Brad Hogg is a match turner, and crucially, Matthew Hayden is playing some of the best cricket of his career.

As for South Africa, we have heard enough reasons why they can't beat Australia: Their bowling attack is one-dimensional, they've failed to adapt adequately to the conditions, and they lack a quality spinner.

But I get a sneaky feeling about today, because it's the World Cup last four knock-out stage, and anything is possible.

Like on Tuesday night when Sanath Jayasuriya astonishingly failed to put away a half volley, and was instead cleaned up by James Franklin having scored just 1. On another day, he would have hoisted the ball over midwicket.

And then Shane Bond, having been so consistent during the World Cup, struggled to find his rhythm and leaked runs uncharacteristically.

In the end, Sri Lanka showed that if you do the basics right, and you play calm cricket, you can put pressure on your opponents and defy the odds.

New Zealand have been left to ponder a fifth World Cup semi-final exit; I wonder if it's time to ship over the chokers tag? Anyone know where it is?

Form will often take the best four teams to the semi-finals, but once there, it's a straight shoot-out, which any of the teams can win, and if the Proteas play to their potential, they could find themselves in the final for a historic first time.

To do that, they will have to bat, bowl, and field out of their skins, and then some; to quote Stephen Fleming: "You've got to be there for 100 overs" to compete against Australia.

If the unbeaten Aussies do klap South Africa (and there's no logical reason why they shouldn't), my inbox is going to be jam-packed with stern but righteous comments, which I'll face with a dose of fortitude and an extra strong pot of coffee.

But if South Africa win, I hope I'm going to receive many e-mails acknowledging that the Proteas, inconsistent as they have been, deserve our unconditional support.

  • Kass Naidoo is editor of gsport... for Girls!

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