Home Sport Cricket Bavuma’s Proteas by far SA’s best World Cup team

Bavuma’s Proteas by far SA’s best World Cup team

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On most metrics, the Class of 2023 are the best World Cup team South Africa has produced, and they achieved this feat with very few superstars, something that Proteas teams of the past had in abundance.

South Africa’s captain Temba Bavuma walks out ahead of the game against Australia at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup semi-final. Picture: Pankaj Nangia, Shutterstock (14208104d)

Reviewing South Africa’s 2023 Cricket World Cup campaign, it is safe to say that the Temba Bavuma-led unit has been relatively successful.

Only three losses in the World Cup, a campaign which saw the Proteas feature in a semi-final, means South Africa enjoyed a fruitful tournament.

Going into the World Cup, there were very few who gave them a chance.

To be frank, many were banking on the Proteas featuring in World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe as efforts to secure an automatic qualification spot for the 13th edition of the showpiece event looked doomed.

The team had suffered an embarrassing series defeat at home to a strong Bangladesh outfit, opponents who had never won a series in South Africa before last year’s tour.

Fast bowlers Taskin Ahmed and Shoriful Islam dictated terms during that series and had the Proteas batters in all sorts of trouble. Bangladesh beat the Proteas 2-1, a result that left no doubt about their dominance over a full-strength Proteas team.

A year before, South Africa went on to lose a series in Sri Lanka after Bavuma’s series-ending injury in the opener, leaving SA at the tail end of the ODI Super League points table and in jeopardy of being the first Proteas team to play in a World Cup qualifier tournament.

However, this year, Bavuma played an important hand alongside Heinrich Klaasen, Rassie van der Dussen and Aiden Markram to take the team straight to the World Cup, avoiding the embarrassment of touring Zimbabwe.

They beat England who, heading to India, were the defending champions, and showed character in a 1-1 series draw against the West Indies before they whitewashed the Dutch here at home.

In relation to South Africa’s 2019 World Cup campaign, Bavuma’s team were far more successful. And more successful than what is considered the best Proteas World Cup team – the 2015 World Cup squad.

In 2019, only one batter, Faf du Plessis, passed the century mark and that was against Australia – a game that was essentially a dead rubber, given South Africa’s confirmed exit way before that fixture.

In 2015, the AB de Villiers-led Proteas registered five tons, whereas the Class of 2023 saw Quinton de Kock alone cross the three-figure mark four times.

Even on the bowling front, the Class of 2023 are unmatched by any bowling attack of the past in terms of wickets taken in a single World Cup campaign.

Gerald Coetzee (20 wickets) and Marco Jansen (17), both at only 23 years of age, became the first SA bowlers to cross the 16-wicket mark in a single campaign. Coetzee even featured in the ICC team of the tournament, albeit as the 12th man. The success of this team is clearly evident, and can be further seen in the fact that they are currently placed third in the ICC ODI rankings after the conclusion of the World Cup.

On most metrics, the Class of 2023 are the best World Cup team South Africa has produced, and they achieved this feat with very few superstars, something that Proteas teams of the past had in abundance.

They have quietly gone about their business amid all the critiques and negativity that came their way.

When was the last time a South African sat at the top of the rankings? Be it the bowlers, batters or all-rounders’ rankings, it has been a number of years since a Proteas player was at No.1.

However, after the 2023 World Cup, spinner Keshav Maharaj deservingly sits at the top of the ICC bowlers’ rankings, and this is after the spinner miraculously recovered from a major injury a month before the World Cup.

The most exciting factor about this team is that the majority of the players will likely feature in the 2027 World Cup here at home, and it is then that they can be expected to win the World Cup having had a successful 2023 campaign.

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