World Cup 2015, South Africa vs India: Will the real Proteas please stand up?

It is time for South Africa to pour a bucket of cold water over their collective heads and wake up.

Dennis Freedman February 19, 2015 07:39:45 IST
World Cup 2015, South Africa vs India: Will the real Proteas please stand up?

A World Cup has started, yet it feels as if they aren't quite aware.

Any team that boasts a batting line-up consisting of Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Quintob de Kock, David Miller, Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy is always going to score runs. Lots of runs. Any team boasting a bowling line-up of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and Imran Tahir will contain plenty of teams.

However, South Africa have been unconvincing in their last two games.

Firstly, they took on the highly fancied New Zealand in a warm-up game. The Kiwis know how to punch above their weight. The South African teams of yesteryear would have hit that warm-up game in Christchurch like a Mohammed Ali uppercut lands on a chin. They would have shown these young upstarts who is boss. South Africa doesn't tolerate teams they don't admire. They don't admire New Zealand. There are no shrines to their feats anywhere in Cape Town.

World Cup 2015 South Africa vs India Will the real Proteas please stand up

AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir and Hashim Amla. Getty

But steamroll they did not. Instead, they were slaughtered.

Some could write that off as an aberration. It was just a warm-up game. New Zealand are actually pretty good. It won't happen again. Well, it hasn't happened again in the same sense, but their World Cup opener against Zimbabwe was a disaster of a different kind.

Yes, Duminy and Miller created a world record 5th wicket partnership. Yes, they restricted their opposition to under 300 on the small Seddon Park ground. Yes, the scoreboard shows South won comfortably. But that would be missing the point.

Zimbabwe are no world beaters yet had South Africa tottering at 83 for 4. With de Kock, Amla, Faf and ABdV back in the shed, the world stood up and took notice. It could have been a fluke by Zimbabwe, but it wasn't. They bowled well and kept the pressure on. The pitch held no demons. Dav Whatmore's plans were working.

Then Duminy and Miller put on 256 and helped South Africa post 339. But these two lads will never again feature in a partnership like that. They batted well, but South Africa got lucky. A better bowling attack would have kept the pressure on.

In the normal scheme of things, you’d expect South Africa to be 200-plus for 4, with the middle-order and tail left to make the final 100 runs. Against Zimbabwe, it was flipped. Some will argue that this is a strength. Batting depth should not be scoffed at. However, batting depth is only useful when used in fits and spurts. At the moment, it is a constant. Against New Zealand, the whole team couldn't even crack 200 runs.

The bowling attack is also still asleep.

It is the best one in the tournament. Steyn, Philander and Morkel are at least on a par or better than Johnson, Starc and Hazelwood. Tahir is the best leg spinner in the World Cup. He may not be a good Test bowler, but it is difficult to fault his ODI record.

Why then did this attack leak over 330 runs against New Zealand?

Against Zimbabwe, they took only three wickets in the first 36 overs. They had also leaked 214 runs in that time against an ODI team ranked 10th.

South Africa did clean up the last seven wickets cheaply, but 277 is still more than Zimbabwe should ever get.

The reality is to win a World Cup, teams don’t have to hit their stride until the second half of the tournament. The last time the World Cup was in Australia and New Zealand, Pakistan walked away with the trophy after only winning one of their first five matches.

South Africa know this well. They have never managed to do it. They don't have an ICC trophy of any kind to show off to guests.

It is time for South Africa to pour a bucket of cold water over their collective heads and wake up.

At the risk of closing with a cliche, they are clearly a team of champions. I hope they will prove to us that they are also a champion team.

Updated Date:

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