South Africa are known to have one of the best team combinations, and the perfect balance to dominate world cricket. Unfortunately for them, they have never won a major ICC event. They have also never been able to shed the chokers tag.
The 2015 ICC World Cup was the best chance they had, but they crumbled to the heroics of the New Zealand team. Things have just worsened for them ever since.
The home series loss to Sri Lanka, where they were whitewashed, will surely add salt to their injuries. Going into the series, they would have been expected to win it 2-0 or worse draw it, but they lost both the Test matches, and one of them was a massive defeat.
Every team undergoes a cycle, where they have to rebuild as and when their experienced players retire. Once Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher and Graeme Smith retired, the balance of the team became very fragile. And now with AB de Villiers gone too, their entire team is shaken.
Suddenly, there are just too many new faces, and their performances have suffered accordingly.
The next shock they could face is the retirement of Dale Steyn. Steyn, one of the premier fast bowlers, probably doesn’t have too much fuel left in the tank.
There is no doubt that players like Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander, Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma have stepped up their performances. But cricket is an 11-man game and performances from just a few players won’t help the team’s cause.
Another issue that the Proteas are facing is losing out key players to Kolpak. When a player signs a Kolpak deal, he gives up the right he has to play for his own nation. Though that does not mean that the player can never play for the Proteas again, it does rule out his participation for a significant amount of time.
Jacques Rudolph is the only name which comes to mind, who signed a Kolpak deal, but later came back to play for South Africa.
Generally, if a player signs a Kolpak deal, his priority is not to play for the nation. The Proteas have lost a lot of good players, some of them being Rilee Rossouw, Kyle Abbott and most recently Duanne Olivier, to Kolpak contracts.
Olivier came up with strong performances against both Pakistan and Sri Lanka and was touted to be a definite front-line fast bowler for South Africa. It is therefore very unfortunate that he too has signed the Kolpak deal with Yorkshire, and left South Africa.
With less than 100 days to go for the World Cup 2019, South Africa are in a bit of a shambles. Though their ODI performances may not be significantly affected, Olivier's departure will still haunt them mentally.
Faf Du Plessis has to rally his troops and be the pivot around which this new team will have to revolve.