We examine how South Africa are shaping up ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, as they bid to lose the tag of ‘serial chokers’ after a string of semi-final exits.
ODI ranking: 3
World Cup wins: 0
Final appearances: 0
World Cup record
Tournament appearances: 7
Ways they can win it
South Africa arrive in good shape, having won six of their last seven ODI series, and a seam-dominant attack led by Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi, with the veteran Imran Tahir offering spin support, should prosper in English conditions. The batting raises more question marks. In AB de Villiers’ absence, Quinton de Kock will need to provide the spark.
Take your pick. Calamitous run-out? Horrible miscalculation? Collective brain-freeze? Whatever happens, it’ll most likely happen in the semis.
Team professor: Hashim Amla
A quiet colossus of ODI cricket, Amla is the fastest man to 7,000 ODI runs – in 11 innings fewer than Kohli – and South Africa will need all his nous and experience after a relatively poor run of form which was rumoured to have left his place in doubt. With an ODI average of 57 in England, they’d have been mad not to pick him.
Mad dog: Dale Steyn
Still steaming in as though his life depends on it. Still mad as a box of frogs. Still a damn fine bowler. The sight of the greatest fast bowler of the century lying flat on his back, staring into the Auckland night sky, wondering how another semi-final had escaped South Africa’s grasp, was one of the more poignant images of the last World Cup. On his farewell to ODI cricket, he’ll be moving heaven and earth to take his country to their first final.
Your next favourite player: Tabraiz Shamsi
What’s not to love about a left-arm wrist-spinner who celebrates his wickets by donning a skeleton mask? Unfortunately the ICC have outlawed the ‘Masked Magician’ routine but Shamsi’s got plenty more where that came from, be it the ‘Bus Driver’ dance (which upset David Warner, who described it as “a bit fancy”), the classic shoe-phone celebration first pioneered by West Indian spinner Dave Mohammed, or ‘Sub Zero’ based on a finishing move from bloodbath video game Mortal Kombat.
Weak link (by CricViz)
South Africa have a very long tail with Rabada, Steyn, Ngidi and Tahir likely to occupy spots 8 to 11. Since the 2017 Champions Trophy, South Africa’s 8-11 average just 12.16 runs per dismissal.
South Africa squad
Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Chris Morris, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, Rassie van der Dussen.
Betfair Exchange odds: 13.5
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