There has never been a weak South African side ever since they returned to the international fold. They have been among the top teams always , however they are without a major trophy to their name. The way that they have been dumped out of the World Cups , through stupidity or quirks of fate, has earned them the unenviable tag of “Chokers”. What is it different this time? I have put the current South African team through the MBA scanner below.
Batting Talent: Greame Smith, Hashim Amla, De Villiers, Kallis, Duminy is possibly the best in form batting lineup at the moment. Though Dhoni and Raina may have put India back level pegging as I write.
Fast Bowling Stocks: Steyn, Morkel , Totsobe,Parnell form a honest fast bowling attack. Though not as quick or penetrative as the Australian fast bowling attack, they are more accurate and predictable. Steyn is the super star and the best bowler in the world right now.
Record in sub continent: South Africa is one team that has a good record in the sub continent and that will stand them in good stead
Fielding: SA fielding remains top class and gives them an edge over India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka
Middle Order: In the absence of Jacques Kallis the soft belly of the South Africans was exposed in the Indian series. De Villiers was not in form and the all rounders were inadequate leading to sudden collapses
Spin: Though SA have introduced Imran Tahir, Botha nad Peterson dont inspire wicket tacking confidence that is needed in such conditions. Tahir may run into some problems against India and Sri Lanka who play leg spin really well
Lack of the X factor: Though Steyn, Amla, Kallis can provide some of this, the Kluesner kind of presence is lacking in this team. Yusuf, Afridi, Malinga, Razzaq, Johnson all provide a more unstoppable feeling when in the groove. So SA definitely lack this.
Kallis’ Ambition – The legend is in great form and hungry to make the World Cup his own. Like Sachin he could single handedly carry the Springboks to the cup
Smith’s Captaincy Swansong: Smith will be ODI captain for the last time in the World Cup. He would desperately wish SA win this to establish them as a great team
The Proverbial “Choke” – Can SA not choke? Can they control their urge to self destruct in crunch situations? Questions that will echo till they win the World Cup. The team will be under pressure and it is not going to be easy to erase a decade old tag.
The fitness of Kallis: Kallis has just returned after an injury and he is critical to the Proteas chances but his bowling may be limited in the World Cup
South Africa have a very good side and their problems are more in the mind than in the skills. However they have taken the steps to have more variety in the attack and be more aggressive in recent times.
Theoretical Chances of Winning – 80%
Practical Chances of Choking – 50%
The erratic Pakistanis come up in the next post