Chokers! A term that has been sewn on, iron-branded and tattooed on the South African cricketing team for over 20 years in ICC events.
But 2019 was supposed to be different. 2019 was supposed to be the year that entering an ICC event – the Cricket World Cup – without a favourites tag should have given the Proteas the freedom to play some adventurous cricket.
But this tournament has seen anything but adventurous cricket. The storm clouds brewed overhead even before Faf du Plessis’ men left the sunny shores of the southern tip of Africa.
Hashim Amla was so down on form that his selection was called into question right up until the final team announcement. Chris Morris was not in contention due to his “lack of consistency” and was only included due to the injury to new sensation Anrich Nortje.
Dale Steyn was back to being injured again but taken along anyway, missed the first few games and then sent home with Lions left-armer Beuran Hendricks being hurriedly loaded onto an SAA flight off to Heathrow.
JP Duminy came back from injury – just in time – to supposedly bolster the middle-order and provide some right-arm off-spin but has hardly featured. I doubt that Ottis Gibson and Co even know which way to turn at the moment!
The performance from the Proteas has been disastrous, lacking in intensity, ingenuity and discipline. South Africa have relied heavily on their bowlers to win games and paper over the cracks that the batting unit has faced over the last year and a bit – no doubt because of the excellent batting coach that replaced the ever succeeding Neil McKenzie – Dale Benkenstein.
McKenzie has shown what the Proteas threw away when he was appointed as the Bangladesh batting guru in July last year. In his time with the Tigers, they have played 30 ODI’s with 17 wins and two abandoned matches.
They have posted scores above 250 on 15 occasions of which four have been above 300. Of those 15 occasions, Bangladesh have won 11 times.
But the whole Mac story is another road to travel!
For some reason – and only Cricket South Africa know – the Proteas have gone from being Lions hunting their prey to rabid dogs being chased by the SPCA.
With the Proteas having being knocked of of semi final contention at the World Cup, any performances in the remaining fixtures against Sri Lanka on Friday and Australia on 6 July will be meaningless, so I decided to draw up the report card.
Quinton de Kock – 6/10: De Kock’s natural attacking instinct has been lacking and this could be down to his concern for his opening partner Amla, who has forgotten how to bat. The left-handed opener has failed to score at a run-a-ball in any of his his 7 innings, with two scores of 68, against England and Afghanistan, and a 47 against Pakistan.
Hashim Amla – 2/10: I was going to give Amla a 1/10 but two laboured innings of 55 against New Zealand and an unbeaten 41 from a million balls against Afghanistan raised his point level by 1. Amla’s struggles should have been left at home and this has cost the team dearly.
Aiden Markram – 4/10: Markram has been earmarked as a future Proteas captain – and yes, he will make a good one. Though he has not taken his ODI chances as he should have. Markram’s knocks of 45 against Bangladesh and 38 against New Zealand edged him up a notch but moving him up to open with De Kock and working with that might just be a trick being missed.
Faf du Plessis – 4/10: Du Plessis is a shadow of the captain he was leading into the World Cup. He showed some of his old self in the defeat to Pakistan in which he was trying to marshal his beleaguered troops as well as top-scoring with 63 but his only other meaningful contribution was a 62 from 53 balls against Bangladesh. His captaincy has been called into question in his decisions to bat or bowl first. There seems to have been no fight left in the skipper.
Rassie van der Dussen – 8/10: In reference to a Bradley Cooper film – “A Star is Born”, Van der Dussen has been the only batsman in the Proteas lineup that can actually walk around without any disguise on. The right-handed Van der Dussen has really shone almost everytime he has walked out to the crease. He scored 50 against England, 41 off 38 against Bangladesh, 67 off 64 against New Zealand and added 36 and 22 to his knocks. But South Africa were always under pressure by the time he came to the wicket and did exceptionally well under the circumstances.
JP Duminy – 2/10: Duminy only played in the first three matches and well, that’s it really. Only one knock of 45 from 37 balls against Bangladesh to talk about. Should really been left at home with the likes of Reeza Hendricks filling in the role.
Andile Phehlukwayo – 5/10: Phehlukwayo was always fighting for the allrounder spot with Dwaine Pretorius and Chris Morris and seemed to always have the inside line but has not failed nor raised any eyebrows so far. His highest score of 46* against Pakistan came when the cause was already lost while his best bowling of 2-18 came against Afghanistan. Phehlukwayo could be the Lance Klusener of the future but needs to back up Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi far better with the ball.
Kagiso Rabada – 3/10: Much was expected from Rabada but considering the workload he has had to carry over the last two years, no wonder he has failed to perform. Rabada’s job is to grab early wickets up front, something he has not managed to do or to build early pressure and let his partner do the business. But Rabada’s efforts resulted in 2-66 against England and 2-39 against India while taking a pasting from Pakistan. Player management has never been more evident than with Rabada.
Lungi Ndigi – 6/10: Ngidi started well, taking 3-66 against England but then only bowled four overs against Bangladesh, conceding 34 in the process before suffering an injury which kept him out of the next games against India, West Indies and Afghanistan before returning with 1-47 against New Zealand and 3-64 against Pakistan. Ngidi is the perfect foil for Rabada but too often too much is asked of the young men.
Imran Tahir – 8/10: Oh could we just clone him and keep him for the next 50 years? Tahir is the oldest player at this World Cup and has broken so many records along the way. Despite not taking wickets against India (0-58) and New Zealand (0-33), he has been a threat in every game. His 10 wickets has made him South Africa’s leading wicket taker and the leading spinner in the tournament and once his retirement becomes effective after the Australian game, he will be missed!
Dwaine Pretorius – n/a: Pretorius has played just one game, against England in the opening match where he ended with 0-42 from 7 overs and scored just a single. Has he gone home?
Chris Morris – 7/10: Morris was not supposed to be here. He was marked as inconsistent, too erratic. Oh boy has he proved everyone wrong. Morris, since starting against Bangladesh, has just gotten better as the tournament has gone on. Morris has not done much with the bat, just one score of note – 42 against India – but his bowling has kept the Proteas in the contest up to a point. His 9 wickets puts him just behind Tahir, including 3-13 against Afghanistan and 3-49 against New Zealand.
David Miller – 4/10: Miller-time – “ja well no fine” as the South African saying goes. Miller has batted four times, top score of 38 and lowest of 31. He has failed to take the game by storm and will be bitterly disappointed that he has not turned his four 30’s into bigger scores. His fielding has also let him down badly at times during the tournament. Something South Africa have suffered with since Gibson took over.
Beuran Hendricks – n/a: Hendricks was called up to replace the injured Dale Steyn and has just been given one opportunity, against Afganistan in which he finished with 0-25.
Tabraiz Shamsi – n/a: Labelled to take over from Tahir as South Africa’s premier spinner after the World Cup but has only been given one opportunity so far – against India! Result, 0-54.
Gibson will need to use the last two games against Sri Lanka and Australia to give the likes of Hendricks, Pretorius and Shamsi some game time. The cats out of the bag and the rooster has crowed his song. No matter what happens now, I doubt anyone will be waiting at OR International Airport to greet the Proteas – or maybe a few with some rotten tomatoes at hand.