World Cup 2019: Post-tournament analysis of South Africa
Despite not going into this tournament as favorites, South Africa returned home in ignominy with their worst performance at a World Cup since a misreading of the Duckworth-Lewis target saw them eliminated at home in 2003.
A lot of things went wrong for the Proteas and they never recovered from it. Dale Steyn, their premier fast bowler, was ruled out with injury, their batsmen were in poor form until the last few matches, their fast bowling stocks were ineffective, and their fielding was a reflection of low confidence.
Lungi Ngidi was injured after a few games and the form of key batsmen, Hashim Amla and David Miller, was poor. Going into the games, they lost important wickets at key junctures and poor batting against spin has cost them dearly. Also, they had to deal with the controversy surrounding the availability of AB de Villiers.
Even though South Africa went into the World Cup having lost only one ODI series since September 2017 and with key batsmen and bowlers in good form, injury woes meant that South Africa never got to implement their plans.
Plan A was to go with a pace attack spearheaded by Dale Steyn in what was likely to be his final appearance in a limited overs tournament. However, his tournament-ending injury meant that South Africa were forced to rely upon their all-rounders for pace.
Their batting was held up by Faf du Plessis, who scored South Africa's only century at the tournament, apart from Quinton de Kock and Rassie van der Dussen. The latter was one of the few shining lights in South Africa's campaign, continuing a strong run of form that saw him average 73.77 in ODI cricket.
The rest of the batting - Aiden Markram, Hashim Amla, David Miller, and JP Duminy - fared poorly at the tournament. Amla started his tournament on the receiving end of a vicious bouncer from Jofra Archer and ended with a knee injury and doubts over his international future.
Miller's poor form bled into his fielding as well, uncharacteristically dropping chances that he would have taken otherwise. On the bowling front, Imran Tahir (11 wickets) bowled with the same passion and commitment that had driven him so far and was one of South Africa's best bowlers.
Along with Tahir, all-rounders Chris Morris (13 wickets) and Andile Phehlukwayo (11 wickets) had a good outing as well. Kagiso Rabada had a decent tournament (11 wickets), if one went by the numbers, but was often ineffective when needed the most.
Even though South Africa managed to end their campaign on a positive note by defeating Australia, an uncertain future awaits them with the imminent retirement of several senior players and the possible departure of their coach.
How they progress remains to be seen but rebuilding the team from scratch is a must to avoid such a performance in future editions.
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