How the Proteas can win the World Cup

2015-01-25 21:46

The South Africans go into this year’s edition on the back of what some may see as a convincing series victory over the West Indies. What lies ahead, however, will pose a greater threat to the Proteas’ chances. With a solid history of underperforming at ICC tournaments (save the 1998 Champions Trophy, who remembers that anyway?), the Proteas will be looking to finally shed the dreaded chokers tag. The following pointers, I believe, will give us a good chance of becoming world champions for the first time.

Less contemplation and more decisiveness

If we are going with an offensive game plan, we should back it 100 per cent. There should be no room for tentativeness. In the past, conservative approaches have been our undoing. Look back at how the Australians approached their game against us in the 2007 group stage. Hayden and Gilchrist came out firing. Our frontline bowlers, Pollock and Ntini, were smashed to all corners of the Warner Park field (St Kitts and Nevis). Such a gameplan, if executed to perfection, will give us a good chance of overcoming any opposition.

Pick the team on form, not reputation

It must be said that this is arguably the weakest side we have ever taken to a 50-over World Cup. With that said, it would make no sense to field a player who is going through a rough patch. The argument of experience superceding everything holds no water if that player is not troubling the scorers or disturbing the woodwork.

Bat AB de Villiers at 4

Oftentimes we’ve lost matches because our best player, de Villiers, did not get enough time at the crease to take the match away from the opposition. We all saw what he did in the second ODI against the Windies. Imagine if he had faced more than those 44 deliveries. JP Duminy is reliable enough to hold on to the number 5 spot. This allows him to come in when the innings is at a crucial stage. His ability to rotate the strike when boundaries dry up will prove vital. Next up would be David Miller. His ability to power his way to a 40 or the occasional 80 will come in handy, especially when we are chasing.

Play each match on its merits

After the heartaches of the past, we cannot afford to take any team lightly. Hence, we should be as clinical when we are playing Bangladesh as we are when playing Australia. Quite frankly, every match should be approached as if it's a final.

Get the mathematics right

In the 2003 World Cup we succumbed to what can simply be described as a mathematical error. In a group B match against Sri Lanka, South Africa were 229/5 chasing Sri Lanka's 268 with 5 overs remaining when rain interrupted play. Mark Boucher, under the impression that the Duckworth-Lewis revised target was 229(and not 230), blocked the last ball (with scores tied at 229) to effectively end the match as a tie. The hosts then shamefully exited their own tournament.

Tidy fielding will be crucial

At no point should we have to utter the old cricket adage, "you drop a catch, you lose a match." Similarly, the opposition should not be given any freebies in the field. We've already "dropped" one world cup (Steve Waugh may not have said that to Gibbs, though), we would not want to drop another one.

Everyone needs to step up to the challenge

We cannot always rely on a match-winning/saving partnership from De Villiers and Amla, your Behardiens and Russouws need to step up and win us a few matches when needed. Big-match temperament will be vital.

Fear of failure can no longer be blamed for humble performances. It is time to absorb the pressure and conquer. Our players should not crumble under pressure (Lasith Malinga, 2007). They should step up and be clinical, especially against the top teams in order to send a clear message.

Can the Proteas be crowned world champions or will they move closer to comparisons with the mighty Bafana Bafana?

Tweet me @uncle_uhuru

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AB praises selfless skipper

2010-11-21 18:15

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