Rabada and de Kock will lead South Africa in new era
South Africa produced some of their best cricket to defeat Australia by 10 runs in their final World Cup group match. But this performance came too late for the beleaguered Proteas, who packed their bags after the match.
The win was built on a dominant batting display. Faf du Plessis (100 runs) and Rassie van der Dussen (95) lifted South Africa’s total to 325-6. Kagiso Rabada then bowled exceptionally at the death and Australia were bowled out for 315 runs.
It was the perfect end for the team after a disappointing campaign.
A tournament of mixed fortunes
It was another below-par World Cup for the Men in Green and Gold (they haven’t reached the final after eight attempts). They lost their first three matches against England, Bangladesh and India and never really recovered.
This bad start meant South Africa had to win their last six matches in order to advance to the next phase. It was not to be.
They comfortably defeated Afghanistan in their next match. But further losses to New Zealand and Pakistan put their semi-final aspirations to bed.
South Africa played their last two matches, against Sri Lanka and Australia, for pride. They looked liberated, released from the pressure of having to win matches. They played with confidence and swagger and, unsurprisingly, won both matches (including a nine-wicket rout over the islanders).
The end of an era
It was a fitting way to send two of their stalwarts into retirement. Imran Tahir and JP Duminy played their last ODI against Australia. The pair’s longevity stood out; they played a combined 306 matches.
The cricket world will especially mourn Tahir’s retirement. The passionate South African is renowned for his wicket celebrations. Every time he takes a wicket, Tahir throws his arms open, shouts in delight and sprints to the opposite side of the field, inadvertently leaving his team-mates far behind.
Duminy is known for his calming influence on the team.
Captain Faf du Plessis talked about the pair at the post-match presentation: “Imran has got such incredible passion and love for the game of cricket. He commits to whatever team he plays for and is such a big-hearted player."
“He is hands down South Africa’s best celebrator ever. And JP is the father figure of the side. He has been my sounding board. He is one of the guys who have conversations with players.”
“He is perfectly suited as a mentor and someone who can help young players”.
Exciting times for South African cricket
It is time for a new era in South African cricket. Dale Steyn, Hashim Amla and Du Plessis are expected to retire soon.
The mantle will be handed over to the next generation. Quinton de Kock and Kagiso Rabada have to steer the ship in the post du Plessis era. Both of them are experienced players and will know how to deal with the situation.
The pair has plenty of talented players at their disposal. Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phelukwayo and Aiden Markram ooze class and potential.
The trio, bar Markram, have already made their mark on the ODI stage. Markram (140 runs, average of 23.33) showed glimpses of his ability at the World Cup. He was dismissed three times between 30 and 50 runs, but looked a million dollars every time he was at the crease.
Moving down the ranks, there is just as much talent on the domestic circuit. Some players, such as Wiaan Mulder, Theunis de Bruyn and Lutho Sipamla, have performed outstandingly for their various franchises. They will be given opportunities in the near future, once du Plessis and co hand over the reins.
Yes, South Africa suffered a poor World Cup 2019. But with the available talent, they can be real title contenders at the next event.
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