South Africa have just completed their World Cup pool games. Quite unremarkably, they have qualified for the quarter finals.
What have we learnt about this highly fancied team over the last 4 weeks?
AB de Villiers is a Freak
You already knew this. We’ve seen plenty of his astonishing batting exploits over the years. However, to put up in a World Cup ticks one of those final boxes that place him on the immortals platform.
He enters the final having made the fastest ever 50, 100 and 150. He is second on the runs table behind Kumar Sangakkara. No shame here. Sanga became the first man to score 4 consecutive ODI hundreds in the history of cricket during this tournament.
de Villiers sits 4th on the strike rate table and will be a favourite for the best bloke at the tournament award.
He has also turned his hand to bowling. 4 wickets have fallen to his mystery straight breaks. That’s as many as James Anderson has so far, and more than Stuart Broad.
Hashim Amla is a Freak too
It’s hard enough facing a team with ABdV. It becomes exponentially more difficult when a layer of Hash is added.
His role in this tournament has been crucial, primarily due to the failures of his opening partner Quentin de Kock.
During the World Cup pool games, Amla became the fastest player to reach 20 ODI hundreds. That’s faster than ABdV, Sachin, Gilchrist, Kohli, Sangakkara, Gayle or anyone else you want to offer up. This, from a guy who primarily plays orthodox cricket shots.
He doesn’t need to say much with words. He uses his bat instead.
He’s not in peak form, but even at 80%, he just keeps delivering.
South Africa are in a Slumber
On paper, South Africa have the best batting a bowling lineup of any team in the competition. On the field, this hasn’t shown to be true. They are performing like an old car desperately in need of an oil change and an injector clean.
Apart from the two batsmen mentioned above, we are yet to see legitimate signs that any one else is in form. It has all been rather sporadic.
The bowling is even more troublesome. Steyn, Philander, Morkel and Tahir is as good a quartet in the white ball format as you can get. They may have beaten a few associates, but they haven’t rolled through a team like New Zealand or Australia have. Even India’s fast bowling attack looks more dangerous.
These guys have run out of time to find form.
However, this presents opportunity and upside.
Of concern will be the heavy loss to India in what could have been a dress rehearsal for a final, and their failure to get over a rather unimpressive Pakistani side.
The facts show that South Africa, since November, have lost 6 ODI’s in Australia against Test status nations. That’s a trend, not a blip.
There are Structural Weaknesses
Numbers 6 and 7 are big holes. In the ODI format, these need to be strengths. What South Africa wouldn’t give for a Lance Kluesner right now.
Behardien and Parnell have demonstrated that bits and pieces players are not what’s required. They only have 1 wicket for the tournament between them. Add Duminy, and it is only rises to 3.
The fifth bowler is seen as so weak by the skipper that he is throwing down overs himself. We are still not clear what their best side looks like.
Rousseau, Duminy and Miller surprisingly have all averaged over 50 in the pool games. However, when you look at their scores against the Test status nations, there is not too much to talk about.
De Kock’s failures with the bat, averaging 8.83 from 6 innings, means that Faf is coming in consistently early. No team can continue to absorb this kind of pressure match after match.
South Africa now move on to play an in-form Sri Lanka in knockout quarter final at the SCG. It could be one of the best games we see at the World Cup.
However, it is noted that South Africa have never won a knock out match at a World Cup.