Proteas must bloom at World Cup

2011-02-19 19:37

Will it be sixth-time lucky for the Proteas?

From the fairytale, Steve ­Tshwete-inspired debut in the game’s greatest event in 1992, to the humiliating capitulation against Australia in the semifinals four years ago, it has been a ­roller-coaster ride of emotions – many high, but all ending on a low.

Twenty years ago, a naive but exuberant South African team were denied a place in the final by a ludicrous rule which changed the target in the final overs from 21 runs from 13 balls to 21 from a single delivery when rain fell for barely 25 minutes.

Those who witnessed the sight of then sports minister Tshwete consoling a tearful Peter Kirsten in the changing room will never ­forget it.

Neither man thought beyond emotion at the time, but it was – and remains – an iconic moment in the transformation of the game.

Four years later, a far more worldly team was blinded by the brilliance of Brian Lara’s century in the quarterfinals and then, perhaps the best team South Africa has sent to the World Cup, ­suffered the horror of a semifinal elimination against Australia, ­despite the game finishing in a tie.

Lance Klusener and last man ­Allan Donald had four balls to score one run but a nightmare ­run-out ended their dreams.

In 2003, on home soil, the dream ended in even more desperate circumstances when Mark Boucher blocked what turned out to be the final ball from Sri Lankan spin legend Muttiah ­Muralitharan in the belief that the team had scored enough to win on the Duckworth-Lewis calculation with rain falling steadily at ­Kingsmead in Durban.

In fact, their score was only enough to tie. And the Proteas lost out at the group stage.

Finally, four years ago, it was the second time they suffered the ­ignominy of defeat to Australia at the semifinal stage when the tournament was held in the ­Caribbean.

Despite their protestations to the contrary, the team – especially the batsmen – did not cope with the pressure of the situation and collapsed miserably.

At 27/5 inside the first 10 overs, the game was over.

So, given the misfortunes of the past, what should the class of 2011 do and not do to change the fortunes of the nation this time around?
The do’s:

» Forget the past. Only four of the 15-man squad this time have ever played in a World Cup so there is no point in them trying to
“correct” the errors of previous World Cup campaigns.

» Trust their instincts. Play the way that earned them their selection, not the way a World Cup “should” be played.

» Be bold enough to play spinners, including Pakistan-born leggy ­Imran Tahir, who can be a ­match-winner in these conditions.

The don’ts:

» Leave the middle order ­exposed. The Proteas’ top five batsmen are all ranked in the world’s top 20 – why leave newcomers Faf du ­Plessis or Colin ­Ingram exposed in a pressure situation batting at numbers six and seven?

» Try to keep too many overs in hand for the “big name” bowlers for the final overs of the innings.

The “big three”: Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Morne Morkel are all ranked in the world’s top three – use them to take wickets and win the match before it gets to the final overs.

» Read the newspapers. Already the pundits have moved the ­Proteas up from fifth favourites to second on the basis of their ­demolition of minnows Zimbabwe and defending champions ­Australia in their two warm-up matches.

If they read the press, they might believe it.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.