ICC Cricket World Cup - South Africa SWOT Analysis - Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat
There's a strange relationship between ICC events and South Africa; so close, yet so far. South Africa have been the antithesis of New Zealand in ICC events over the years.
The Kiwis have not often boasted of an extremely impressive side but have punched above their weight and went on to create an impact most of the times. On the contrary, South Africa, despite having a World Cup winning squad almost each time, have slipped on crucial junctures, earning themselves the the tag of chokers.
In the last World Cup in 2015, the team was going as good as ever before meeting a roadblock in New Zealand in the semi-final at Eden Park in Auckland.
And when South Africa and World Cup were together, how could have rain lagged behing. It came pouring down and ensured that New Zealand won the match by four wickets and South Africa were knocked out of the tournament to a sobbing AB de Villiers, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn and company.
However, things as South Africa would like to believe, are a bit different this time. Eight out of their 15 players in World Cup squad are all set to make their World Cup debut. These players would probably not carry the baggage of the years gone by and would employ their youthful energy in achieving something that their seniors could never achieve.
South Africa have been successful in putting together one of the most formidable bowling attacks in world cricket. Led by young prodigy Kagiso Rabada, the team also has the experience of Dale Steyn, the bouce of Lungi Ngidi, the pace of Dwayne Pretorius and the awkward angle and length of Chris Morris.
Apart from these pacers, they also have Imran Tahir who has shown time and again what a crucial player he can prove to be. Tahir will be accompanied by left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi, who will fill in the boots of Tahir once he bows out after the World Cup.
Both Hashim Amla and Aiden Markram have had a horrid run leading up to the World Cup. It was expected that one of them would be selected to provide some solidity to the batting line up. As it turned out, the South African team management has gone with class over form and has included both these players in the squad at the cost of Reeza Hendricks.
While there is no doubt about the class of Aiden Markram, and more so about that of Hashim Amla, they have been awfully out of touch and can create some problems for the South African batting line up.
Apart from skipper Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock to a certain extent, South Africa do not have the batters to bank upon. The likes of David Miller and JP Dumniy are not at the peak of their career and would need players around them.
The team also does not have a good lower-order batsman apart from all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo, which can cost the team 20-30 runs in the slog overs. Dwaine Pretorius has ability but he is yet to prove himself at the highest level. Wian Muddler was a good option but he has not been included in the 15-man squad.
The World Cup will bring an opportunity for batsman Rassie van der Dussen to make himself known at the world stage. He averages 88.25 from his nine ODIs and is expected to bat at number four. Hence, the 30-year-old will get the opportunity to play big innings.
Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir will be playing their last ODI World Cup and would want to end on a high. There is no question about the talent of either of them and if they are able to keep themselves fit throughout the tournament, it is more than likely that they will have a big impact and will help boost South Africa's chances of qualifying to the semi-finals.
Apart from Quinton de Kock, who has become an integral part of the team over the years, South Africa do not have another frontline backup wicketkeeper. In the case that de Kock picks up an injury, the team would be caught in a fix. They do have David Miller but he has hardly kept after his under-19 days. Rassie van der Dussen is the other option that the team has, who can handle himself behind the wickets.
Both Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn picked up niggles during the Indian Premier League and are currently recuperating. While Rabada had a back spasm, Steyn suffered from a shoulder injury.
One is more hopeful of Rabada's recovery as he is young and his body can afford to take the burden. On the other hand, Steyn has been picking up one injury after the other recently and it would be a huge blow for South Africa if the veteran pacer is not at his 100%.
Squad: Faf du Plessis (c), Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, JP Duminy, Dwaine Pretorius, Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Chris Morris, Imran Tahir, Tabraiz Shamsi
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