South Africa can definitely turn the tables this time around. They are one of the most balanced and strongest side coming into this world cup which has been a cliché for them since their debut at 1992 world cup. Three things South Africa need to overcome to lift the 2015 cricket world cup :
- The Rain God
- D/L method
- They, themselves
Do they really need it? SA coach Russel Domingo strongly denied it by glossing over that their participation is just like playing in any other cricket tournament. But not to forget, their Performance Director was Patrick (Paddy) Upton till June 2014. The same man who was a catalyst in the process of India conquering the 2011 world cup. South Africa has been vulnerable in pressure situations as was/is India. Paddy Upton must be some personality to have galvanized the Indian squad of 2011. His contribution certainly cannot be forgotten. And this individual with huge inclination towards Indian Spiritual Philosophy should not be neglected when considering South Africa’s probability to lift this edition of world cup. Although he is head coach of Sydney Thunder BBL team since July 2014 (also with Rajasthan Royals), i am sure he must have conditioned the players in supreme manner as they get ready to face their demons in this tournament. Paddy has the know-how of all the ingredients a team should have to get to the coveted trophy in cricketing world. It will be interesting to see how the team copes with soon-to-come nail biting situations but believe you me, Paddy Upton must be having some secret back room pep-talk. Also news is out that Mike Hussey & Gary Kirsten will be coaching consultants for South Africa. Kirsten can turn out to be perfect mentor for the players and Mr.Cricket will certainly be valuable with his experience (I still remember him destroying Saeed Ajmal in the final over of T20 world cup semi final). The environment around this team cannot get better than this. One can only prepare this much to handle the mental side of the game.
No matter what, it all boils down to the chores between the 22 yards and the lush greens engulfing it. South Africa have faced a heavy defeat in one of their warm up matches against New Zealand (equally strong contenders in their backyard). Also their first encounter against minnows gave them some hiccups during batting but given the quality of the side, it was a comfortable victory in the end. One thing to be noticed was that there was no sign of panic in the camp. Going ahead, they should easily sail through the pool B even though they would face India, West Indies and Pakistan on their way to the quarter finals. Then on, its about winning three consecutive matches where South Africa’s mettle and temperament will be tested.
South Africa’s elimination in previous world cup editions of 1996, 2007 & 2011 (not to forget choking of 1999) have been because of their batting debacle. The current group of batsmen : Quinton de Kock, Amla, AB Devilliers, Faf, Duminy, Miller, Roussow are far from the pack to face such a batting collapse (never say never). There is high degree of reliability which can be associated with these batters. When Amla bats, its almost like a meditation session on a cricket pitch. Hardly any signs of disturbance for the soul who knows nothing about the word pressure. De Kock for his baby face can bat with immense maturity. The class and elegance of Faf, Duminy & Miller can win a game single-handedly. The game against Zimbabwe which showcased a possibility of yet another African batting debacle is a live example. A professional batting display by Miller and Duminy turned the match around and helped SA achieve a huge total. The addition of Hussey & Kirsten as coaching consultants is only going to strengthen the talented left-handers of SA (Yuvraj Singh was in form of his life under Kirsten at the 2011 world cup) and the overall batting compartment. Also the bowling unit of SA can have a nice swing with their willows. They can certainly add a minimum of 50-70 runs which can come handy. Lastly, a human being named Abraham Benjamin De Villiers bats in this side’s middle order. He would certainly lead from the front as a captain.
I believe that at this world cup, you need not have a bowling attack who can demolish a side. But an attack which is good enough to contain runs when defending a total or keeping a check on scoreboard when bowling first should get you over the finishing line. With South Africa’s batting line up such a bowling attack would do more good than bad. The SA bowling unit is capable of cleaning up a side as well as containing runs. Steyn gun firing would cause heavy damage. Morkel, Abbott & Philander shall relish the conditions down under. I feel Imran Tahir will play the role of Anil Kumble for the South African side. His overs in the middle of an innings should earn SA some valuable opposition wickets. Steyn did go for runs against Zimbabwe but Tahir was terrific in the middle innings. As was Philander with his impeccable line and length. South Africa are known for world class all rounders. They do not have the likes of Kallis & Klusener but Parnell has enough potential to turn a match on its heads. The slow spin of Duminy will be instrumental in breaking partnerships. Aaron Phangiso will add a new dimension to Proteas bowling attack with his left arm orthodox. And with Alan Donald guiding them, they are a formidable force.
One of best fielding sides in the cricketing universe. The Proteas set a benchmark for fielding standards which is difficult to match. Their fielding perfectly complements the bowling attack. Its almost like an extra bowler who stops runs and takes wickets too. Don’t be surprised to see spiders at this cricket world cup when Proteas take to the field. And AB Devilliers showed some glimpses against Zimbabwe with two stunning catches.
There is hardly a cricket fan who would hate to see South Africa get their hands on the world cup. They have played sublime cricket and entertained us over the past 20 years. Its high time according to law of averages for them to win the world cup. My mind says, its South Africa all the way. It will be a pleasure to see A B De Villiers raise the world cup. He and his country deserve it big time. God help the opposition if all three departments click for South Africa.
PS: God (Sachin Tendulkar – you shall be missed) will forever be on India’s side. Heart beats for team India. #bleedblue #wewontgiveitback