I won’t bore you with the failings of the past World Cup performances, nor will I take cheap shots at past players and captains as so many have. I’ll instead focus on why we have a real chance, yet again.
Firstly let’s address this thing called pressure, it’s no secret that South Africa have struggled when under pressure and the World Cup is the ultimate form of pressure in international cricket. I don’t believe all this hype and talk of ‘lower expectations’ that’s being touted by the media and team management. We can’t just say there is a lower expectation because of past performances and the fact that there are inexperienced players in the squad. I’m a dedicated Proteas supporter and I expect my team to win the World Cup, they have the skill, experience and expertise to do so. If we don’t expect to win then why are we even going?
And here is why I believe we have a realistic chance of winning the World Cup:
We have three batsmen in the ODI ranking top ten, Hashim Amla (1), AB de Villiers (2) and Jacques Kallis (8) as well as three bowlers in the top ten, Morne Morkel (2), Dale Steyn (8) and Lonwabo Tsotsobe (10). Only India have three batsmen in the top ten and no other team has three bowlers in the top ten.
The Proteas go into the World Cup, ranked fourth just one ranking point behind Sri Lanka and India, jointly holding places two and three.
Those ranking are a direct result of consistent quality performances, the most significant of which I believe is the power of our bowling attack.
The bowling pair of Morkel and Steyn is one of the best in world cricket at the moment, with the further development of Lonwabo Tsotsobe as first change, we are in a position of strength. I expect the swing bowling of Tsotsobe to be a major factor on the subcontinent; I’ll stick my neck out and put in writing that Tsotsobe will be the best of the South African bowlers in this World Cup. It’s the first time in a long time that we have a genuine pair of spin bowlers in Tahir and Botha, who are backed up by Peterson. The Tahir selection has been controversial, he’s under massive pressure to prove the selectors right.
The South African batting line up has all the talent and experience in the world to pull this off for our nation, our top five reads; Graeme Smith, Amla, Kallis, de Villiers and J.P. Duminy. Any of those five players would be selected in most World Cup teams, they have the ability, experience and now it’s time to convert.
Another significant factor is the imminent departure of Graeme Smith as ODI captain and this will be Kallis’ last World Cup. Both these players have been magnificent servants of South African cricket. I’m sure they’ll give their all in an attempt to go out on top.
Best case scenario – The Proteas win their first four stage matches which will allow the fringe players time to play without being under pressure. Tsotsobe get’s his maiden ODI hat-trick and Tahir fits into the team well.
Worst case scenario – Implosion, pressure and poor umpiring… early losses would cripple our confidence and render our chances hopeless.
Prediction – Proteas win their maiden Cricket World Cup, thrashing Sri Lanka in the final.
Preview by Shaun Custers