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SA’s failure to deliver down to batsman


But the main problem with the Proteas this time was not enough runs on the board

Imran Tahir in action against New Zealand on wednesday. Photo: Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Once again South African cricket fans have had to endure the demoralising sight of the Proteas failing to deliver on the biggest stage of the game, the World Cup.

There have been a long list of heartbreaking World Cup episodes for South African cricket, stretching all the way back to 1992, with the dreaded “choke” word at the centre of the story. Now, unfortunately, the team of 2019 has joined that list.

Many critics will point fingers at coach Ottis Gibson and captain Faf du Plessis. Others will ask why a “60% fit” Dale Steyn was taken to the World Cup in the first place. The tactical awareness of the team will be questioned.

And those are all valid criticisms.

But the main problem with the Proteas this time was not enough runs on the board.

These days, more than ever, international cricket, and especially limited overs cricket, is a game ruled by batsmen. You simply must have a couple of Virat Kohlis or Shakib al-Hasan’s or Joe Roots in your team. Batsmen who can tear the best bowling attacks to shreds.

Not one South African batsman was able to even come close to that. (Should Temba Bavuma not have been at the World Cup?) The batting was brittle at best, with poor shot selection and slow scoring common ailments. The team’s bowlers tried their best, but the totals they defended were too small.

There will obviously be a lot of soul-searching, because it is not only on the field that results have been disappointing. There has also been tension between the players union and the administrators for quite some time, and these need to be fixed urgently.

One person who should not be blamed for the World Cup woes is Andile Phehlukwayo. Already there have been some disturbing, bigoted comments made about him on social media.

Yes, he had an off-day against New Zealand, but until then he had an excellent tournament. Phehlukwayo, Bavuma, Sinethemba Qeshile, Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada are the kind of players who can make the Proteas bloom again.