South Africa’s journey in the Cricket World Cup
- A look back at South Africa’s performance in the Cricket World Cup
For a lot of people, South Africa is the best team never to have won a cricket World Cup. For others, they are a team that cannot perform well in big matches. This article takes a look at South Africa’s journey in the Cricket World Cup. Big match underperformers or just plain unlucky, you decide.
1992 World Cup, Australia & New Zealand
This was the first time South Africa featured in a World Cup, after being reinstated as a Test playing nation in 1991 (South Africa were banned from international cricket, 1970 onwards due to apartheid). Having started playing One Day Cricket in 1991, no one expected much from the South African team. But they surprised everyone by qualifying for the Semi-Finals, by winning 5 of their 8 matches in the Round Robin stage.
In the Semi-Final against England, with 22 runs needed from 13 balls, they looked on course for a victory. But a 10-minute delay due to the rain saw the target controversially revised to 21 runs of 1 ball. England went on to win the match. They lost to the eventual winners Pakistan in the finals.
1996 World Cup, India, Pakistan & Sri Lanka
The 1996 World Cup saw a strong start from the South Africans, winning all 5 matches and topping the group comprising of South Africa, Pakistan, New Zealand, England, UAE & Netherlands. Their dominant performance led many to believe that this was South Africa’s year. But that was not to be as they were eliminated in the Quarter Finals by West Indies.
1999 World Cup, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales & Netherlands
The South Africans again had a strong start and again topped the Group (comprising of South Africa, India, Zimbabwe, England, Sri Lanka & Kenya), winning 4 of their 5 matches. They qualified for the Semi-Finals, by coming third in the Super Six Stage, winning 3 of their 5 matches. The Semi-Final against Australia was a tie with both teams scoring 213. But Australia since they had defeated South Africa in the Super Six Stage, qualified for the Finals. The match is also well remembered for the last over miscommunication between Lance Klusener & Allan Donald, which saw Donald staying at his crease while Klusener attempted a run. If that run was taken South Africa would have reached the finals.
2003 World Cup, South Africa, Zimbabwe & Kenya
This was the worst performance by a South African team, where they were eliminated in the Group Stages after winning 3 out their 6 matches.
2007 World Cup, West Indies
South Africa qualified for the Super Eight Stage by winning 2 of its 3 matches and coming second in the Group Stage. They narrowly made it to the Semi-Finals by coming fourth in the Super Eight Stage. The Semi-Final saw them again lose to Australia. Batting first South Africa were all out for 149 runs, with Australia reaching the target in 31.3 overs.
2011 World Cup, India, Sri Lanka & Bangladesh
2011 again saw the South Africans topping the Group Stage, winning 5 of their 6 matches. South Africa was the only team to beat the eventual winners India in the tournament. In the Quarter-Finals, they restricted New Zealand to 221 runs from 50 Overs. This time it looked like that South Africa was going through to the next round. But again the Curse of Big Matches struck as they were bundled off for 172 runs.
2015 World Cup, Australia & New Zealand
The Proteas again had a good start, coming second in the Group stage by winning 4 of their 6 matches. They defeated Sri Lanka in the Quarter Finals, chasing down their total of 133 in 18 overs. As had happened in the past, South Africa failed to clear the Semi-Final hurdle for the fourth time when they lost to New Zealand.
That, in a nutshell, was South Africa’s journey in the Cricket World Cup. Chokers or unlucky depends on one's perception. But in my opinion, singling them out as chokers is not fair. There have been other teams also that have reached the knock out stages multiple times but could not lift the trophy. One never knows, 2019 maybe is South Africa’s year.