Proteas were never really contenders


Cape Town – South Africa never really “hit their straps” at the Cricket World Cup and their departure from the tournament at the semi-final stage should not have come as a surprise.

With the Proteas’ 2015 Cricket World Cup campaign abruptly halted on March 24, the chorus of “what ifs” and “but what about that’s” have begun to circulate as pundits and fans alike are left scratching their heads at how such a talented bunch of individuals again managed to squander an opportunity to make the final of world’s cricket’s biggest event.

The 2015 Cricket World Cup will be remembered from a South African point of view for failing to make the final – losing to New Zealand, in a match that had it all. A hostile crowd greeted the Proteas and the hosts were never going to let their guests from the south of Africa get to far ahead in the contest – in the end a brilliant innings from former South African Under-19 all-rounder, Grant Elliott, finished the job for New Zealand. 

The question remains, did South Africa really deserve a place in the final?

<p> This side’s record at the tournament was poor in comparison to the team who dumped them out of the competition. New Zealand remain unbeaten after the Eden Park thriller, having got past the likes of Australia and Sri Lanka, while also beating England, Bangladesh and minnows, Afghanistan and Scotland.

In total, the Proteas only won four of their fixtures at the World Cup despite playing in conditions expected to aid the chances of the national team.

The AB de Villiers led team, in fact, managed to beat just one side truly capable of contending for the title of world champions in the entire tournament. Perhaps, the crushing win over Sri Lanka in the quarter-finals, provided a false hope that this side could either actually be in-form and contest the final or go toe-to-toe with any of the tournament’s three leading sides – the two co-hosts and India.

With the spotlight continuously shone on Quinton de Kock’s poor form, several key players including Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander all fell short of the expectations placed on them and did not have a great time in Australia and New Zealand. That’s a staggering 4 out of 11 players struggling to raise their game in the majority of the team’s fixtures.

The side also struggled to find an adequate solution to the troublesome fifth bowler conundrum and this again proved costly as De Villiers was left with little option should any one bowler struggle during a game.

Russell Domingo’s side were never at full strength, both on-and-off the field throughout the event (and for a variety of reasons too), and this was made abundantly clear when the Proteas were humbled by India (lost by 130 runs) and capitulated against Pakistan (lost by 29 runs) in the pool stages.

A small dose of realism, a true reflection of the team’s current form and it should’ve been clear to see that it was always going to take something extra special to see this side make the final.

The Proteas fell agonisingly short against New Zealand despite the heroics of David Miller, Faf du Plessis and De Villiers – in the end losing the thrilling semi-final by four wickets and with just one ball to spare after Duckworth-Lewis adjusted the South African total. – Sport 24

March 2015
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